A first-in-the-nation program is inviting entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Iowa by removing a major roadblock. The Helping Entrepreneurs Launch Program offers money for health insurance for up to three years. Curtis Brown, Mason City’s economic development director, says most would-be entrepreneurs see health insurance costs as the biggest obstacle.

Brown says they’re reluctant to leave their full-time employers’ health insurance policy, so the program offers up to $350 a month to be applied toward health insurance premiums or for direct deposit into a health savings account. Brown says the program aims to make it easier for investors with good ideas but limited resources to pursue their dreams.

He says: “Starting out a business is stressful enough without having the unknown of health insurance. As you’re putting a lot of time and capital into developing your business, you’ve got health insurance in the back of your mind but don’t have the financial resources to take care of that in the start-up phase.” This is the first program of its kind in the U-S and Brown says if the idea is successful here, it could spread from Iowa nationwide.

He says Iowa is “the best place in the country to do it, given all of the resources that can come to assist an entrepreneur.” For more information, call 800-944-1708.