With the addition of six certified industrial sites – bringing the total to 10 – Iowa jumps to the top of the list for companies looking for Midwest expansion, a low cost of doing business and a talented labor pool.
Created in 2012, the Iowa Certified Sites Program combines national site location standards with Iowa’s natural assets and business/targeted industry needs. The first four sites – all 200-plus acres – completed designation in 2014, with the additional six sites earning designation in summer 2015.
“Creating jobs and increasing family incomes for Iowans is my administration’s top priority,” said Gov. Branstad in a July 2015 statement. “With the announcement that six additional Iowa sites have gone through a rigorous certification process to be considered ‘development ready,’ we are moving Iowa to the top of the list for projects that are looking for a home.”
Zoned for Business Growth
With access to rail and major interstate and connection highways, several sites are ideally situated for large-scale industrial ag operations or high-tech data centers. The Cedar Rapids Land and Air Super Park boasts 582 acres, has rail access and is a mile from I-380. Fort Dodge’s 447-acre site is primed for large industrial users and sits near major Cargill, Valero and CJ BioAmerica global operations. Two miles from I-80 in Van Meter, a nearly 288-acre site is ideally zoned for a data center. Sitting off of I-80, Dexter’s 255-acre site is perfect for a modern distribution center or warehouse.
“Site certification is one of the fastest growing trends, and by introducing certified sites to the market Iowa is better able to compete for large-scale projects,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, in a July 2015 statement.
The 10 communities that now feature a certified site include: Cedar Rapids, Dexter, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Marion, Mason City, Norwalk, Perry, Quad Cities and Van Meter.
Iowa’s Economy is Full Steam Ahead
Iowa’s focused economic development strategy is paying off as the state had a record-breaking year in manufacturing exports in 2014 and has attracted more than $11 billion of private capital investment projects over the last four years. Every corner of the state has benefited from business expansions from top-tier companies — many already with significant Iowa locations — proving that Iowa is on the right track when companies in its own backyard continue to invest.
Iowa’s economy is able to quickly react to global market and industry needs, because its fiscal house is in order. It’s the fourth best-managed state in the United States, with a perfect credit rating and a balanced budget. Iowa’s fair regulatory environment allows for companies to confidently invest in R&D, hire additional employees and expand into new international markets.
The state’s efforts to build and strengthen international trade relationships over the years is coming to fruition. In 2014, Iowa reached a new export record of more than $15.1 billion in manufactured and value-added goods. The state’s exports have increased 39 percent since 2011.
Iowa Demonstrates Focused Economic Development Strategy
Today, as the nation deals with critical infrastructure issues, Iowa has recognized that a vital component of growing its economy and working with emerging international markets is transportation infrastructure. To keep Iowa a global force to be reckoned with, in 2015, the Iowa legislature approved the first significant increase for road and highway infrastructure in 25 years.
With that, Iowa will invest $3.2 billion over five years to improve the state’s highways, bridges and connections to U.S. interstates (I-29 / I-80 / I-35). These key improvements will elevate the state’s ability to attract major exporters who already benefit from a reliable statewide rail system, several regional airports and the Mississippi River along the state’s eastern border. Iowa also has invested in the first-ever statewide Freight Optimization Study to further assist Iowa businesses with international trade by identifying ways to cut freight costs.
By going through the rigorous site certification process, Iowa’s business-focused communities and local utility partners are bringing the whole package together for national and international companies looking to expand in the Midwest. With a top-notch education system, skilled and productive labor force, affordable housing and utilities, plus a 20-minute average commute, you’ve got a certifiable “risk-free” investment in Iowa.
To learn more about Iowa’s Certified Sites, visit iowaeconomicdevelopment.com to jumpstart your next project … the state will provide the shovels.
Visit http://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/iowa_ed for local economic development office directory listings.