Iowa businesses unite against human trafficking in new statewide initiative

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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

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