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Iowa businesses unite against human trafficking in new statewide initiative

By: - January 13, 2022 2:03 pm

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced a new initiative to combat human trafficking on Jan. 13, 2022. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa launched a new statewide alliance Thursday to combat human trafficking.

The Iowa Business Against Trafficking (IBAT) initiative asks Iowa employers to promote awareness of human trafficking prevention resources. Businesses have to do two things each year to participate in the coalition: educate their employees and customers on the signs of human trafficking, and take action to prevent it by sharing resources.

“We are building an army to battle human trafficking,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said at a news conference Thursday.

The secretary of state’s office will manage the IBAT program.

Over three dozen companies and trade organizations have already joined the IBAT coalition, including the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Restaurant Association and the Greater Des Moines Partnership. 

Businesses who commit to the program will receive a window decal so customers “will know your business stands to help prevent human trafficking here in Iowa,” Pate said. He pledged to reach out to all 260,000 registered businesses in the state to ask them to participate. 

Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg attended the event in lieu of Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was ill on Thursday. She tested negative for COVID-19, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“Human trafficking in a global issue, with human beings enslaved all around the world,” Gregg said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s a world away – it’s here in Iowa.”

Businesses can get involved with IBAT through IBAT.iowa.gov.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.

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