You may not be aware that Iowa is the No. 1 state in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report (2018). Iowa takes pride in this honor and is committed to exceeding expectations by revealing the “real” Iowa. At all levels across the public and private sectors, the state remains committed to continuing its upward trend, fostering an environment where businesses can succeed and achieve sustained growth.
Why Iowa? Take a Closer Look.
Those on the front lines of economic development in the state are always eager to answer this question. Though there are a variety of factors that make the state a best-in-class destination for businesses, a few are particularly noteworthy:
Pro-business environment: Businesses in Iowa have benefited from a low cost of doing business, robust infrastructure and continued support from a responsive state government.
Skilled and stable workforce: Public and private entities throughout the state have invested in offering apprenticeships, internships and other professional development opportunities to our workforce in an effort to close the skills gap.
Access and infrastructure: Iowa’s central location provides a transportation network that grants global market access and supports a wide array of needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Success in All Sectors
Despite the aforementioned benefits, the middle-of-the-Midwest location still brings assumptions that Iowa is just a flyover state with nothing but farms and fields. Though Iowa is proud of its agricultural heritage, the state is also home to leaders in other fields–global finance, biosciences, advanced manufacturing and big data. Iowa’s agricultural roots have paved the way for immense industry growth and job creation, particularly in the following sectors.
The critical mass of manufacturing expertise is well worth investigating for those companies seeking a competitive advantage. Making everything from heavy-duty construction equipment and aerospace components to micro-plastics used in medical devices, Iowa’s more than 6,000 manufacturers employ 14% of Iowa’s workforce. They also play a major role in the global marketplace–86% of Iowa’s exports are manufactured goods.
Global leaders like CNH Industrial, Deere & Company and Kinze Manufacturing, Inc. all choose Iowa for major production hubs. Similarly, 31 of the largest 100 food manufacturers have Iowa operations–Barilla, Hormel and Nestle to name just a few. Manufacturing continues to advance in Iowa because productivity can be taken to new heights.
Iowa has earned a reputation as a bioscience epicenter with a continuous focus on innovation and collaboration. Research institutions transfer breakthroughs to the private market and educate Iowa’s concentration of engineers and scientists in a variety of industries. The public and private organizations in Ames, Iowa have provided extensive animal health research and animal vaccine development innovations. Additionally, Iowa has long been a leader in crop genetics. The state has the highest concentration of agricultural feedstock and chemical employment, as well as the largest number of social scientists of anywhere in the country.
Education has also shifted focus to STEM curriculum and over 2,000 bioscience degrees are awarded by Iowa colleges and universities every year–this ensures the next wave of biomedical engineers and data analysts are ready to compete in the global economy. Iowa’s bioscience workforce has grown to be one of the best in the nation because residents live, learn and innovate here.
Finance and Insurance
Iowa has also become one of the nation’s top headquarters for insurance as more than 6,500 finance and insurance companies, including many that appear on the Fortune 500, are located in the state. Iowa has one of the lowest insurance premium tax in the country at 1%, real estate costs are low and capital funding is fast-tracked. The state has compiled a record of pro-business legislation that ranks it among the nation’s most business-friendly states, year after year.
Finance and insurance industries can take advantage of the diverse and robust economy because Iowa is a leader in employee-owned firms, entrepreneurial activity and job creation. This industry accounts for 6% of the state’s workforce. All of this benefits the bottom line for finance and insurance companies and is a primary reason the industry has boomed in Iowa alongside so many others.
Streamlined Success with Site Selection
Beyond the inherent logistical advantages, companies have also found success in Iowa due to the streamlined site selection process, making it easier for decision-makers to find the right option for their business needs on an accelerated timeline.
Designating Development-Ready Sites
Iowa wanted to go beyond leveraging its business-friendly assets and statistics. Ensuring the availability of suitable and low-risk development sites across Iowa inspired the launch of Iowa’s Certified Sites Program which offers more than 20 shovel-ready sites throughout the state. The program mirrors a typical site location process, but due diligence is completed in advance to streamline the site selection process.
Whether your business needs a large plot of land or just an available building, all issues identified during certification are mitigated, making the various categories of sites (including green business parks, mega sites and industrial sites) ready for immediate development. Unlike some states who certify shovel-ready sites by their own criteria (which can vary widely from state to state), Iowa’s certification program uses nationally recognized standards and an independent, third-party site selection firm, Quest Site Solutions.
For a comprehensive list of available sites as well as more information on the Iowa advantage, visit iowaeconomicdevelopment.com.
Visit http://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/iowa_ed for local economic development office directory listings.