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Governor visits Hoover’s Hatchery, touts high-speed Internet initiative

Press photo by Chris Baldus
Press photo by Chris Baldus Hoover’s Hatchery owner Tony Halsted, at left, Gov. Terry Branstad and Mary Halsted, Tony’s mother, speak in front of a small gathering Friday at Hoover’s Hatchery in Rudd.

Watch two clips of Gov. Branstad’s visit to Rudd. Clip 1  |  Clip 2

By Chris Baldus  |

RUDD — Tony Halsted, the 2016 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year, was very complimentary of  his guest Friday at Hoover’s Hatchery.

His main point was how much Gov. Terry Branstad has done for agriculture in the state. And when Halstad mentioned that his business needs fiberoptic access to remain competitive, the governor  touted his rural fiberoptic initiative.

Branstad toured Hoover’s Hatchery on Friday to recognize Halsted’s award from the U.S. Small Business Administration and celebrate the company’s success as a rural-owned small business.

“It’s really kind of exciting to see this happen right here in small town Iowa and we appreciate it and the plans you have for the future, the different markets you’ve gotten into,” Branstad said. “We all want to see your company succeed,  and want others to be able to as well.”

In 2011, Tony returned to his family’s chicken hatchery company to succeed his mother so she could plan for retirement, an SBA news release said.

“With assistance from one of the SBA’s resource partners – America’s SBDC Iowa – Tony has led the reincarnation of an established, regional family business into a growth company within both national and international markets,” the news release said. “Since Tony took over the business, he with partners and employees have expanded facilities by 200 percent, production capacity by 400 percent and grown company revenues extensively.”

Hoover’s Hatchery employs nearly 90 people in fulltime and part-time positions, Halsted said.

“We have good people, too,” Halsted said. “Our people are all mostly local and have been with my mom for a long time. That means more to us than about anything that we’re able to support people here locally.”

Halsted said his company has a specific need.

“We like being from a small town, like being in the rural (area), but we really have to have fiber optic to keep up with our competitors,” Halsted said.

Branstad responded: “We passed an initiative last year we call ‘Connect every acre,’ … we want high-speed Internet to cover every acre of this state. Our farmers need it, our small businesses need it, our residences need it. So we’re going to try to move that quickly.”

“That’s an example of what you have done for agriculture just being foresightfull in that too,” Halsted said.

According to the governor’s website, the initiative:

  • Provides for the coordination and facilitation of broadband access in targeted services throughout the state.
  • Establishes a grant program to award grants to communication service providers by installing broadband infrastructure in targeted service areas that prioritize connecting Iowa farms, schools and communities.
  • Creates uniform rules and limitations for wireless communications facilities and infrastructure pertaining to cell towers.
  • Tasks the office of the chief information officer to lead and coordinate the installation of fiberoptic conduit where it doesn’t currently exist.


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