Northwest Iowa Industries

Some of the most fertile soil in the country is found in Iowa, and agriculture has been a dominant means of survival for the people of Iowa for hundreds of years. During the colonial era, the ambitious people of Iowa established their land in the northwestern region of the state for an agricultural based economy, right in the heart of the Corn Belt. Throughout the 20th century, Iowa’s agricultural economy progressed into a diversified economy of innovative manufacturing, processing, financial services, information technology, biotechnology, and green production. Thanks to the industrial revolution, Iowa has remained an agricultural powerhouse and was one of the biggest wheat and corn producers in the world. To this day, Iowa’s large-scale farming operations have ignited many other industries involved in agriculture, offering a strong job market and education system. Let’s take a look at some of the top-performing, booming industries in the heart of the heartland.

Biotechnology in Northwest Iowa

As the leader in the production of grains, livestock, and poultry, Iowa has a plethora of raw materials and expert knowledge to support continued growth in innovation within various industries. What makes Northwest Iowa a hotbed for biotech company headquarters? It’s skilled workforce of 300,000 workers, a seamless transportation system, easy access to the Northwest Iowa Foreign Trade Zone, and schools with advanced education that support a budding industry. Iowa also has a favorable business landscape for investors and MNCs providing the second lowest cost of doing business over a five-year average.

Part of the biotechnology industry growth comes from the government support with Iowa Economic Development Authority (IDEA), focusing on building a strong base for research with the state's universities. Some companies include Exemplar Genetics, IDT, Behavioral Diagnostics, Elanco, and KemPharm.

Fact: Iowa spends 12% more than the national average on biosciences research. Iowa State University cultivates 67% of their research into the sector.

Dairy Farms in Northwest Iowa

Agriculture in the Northwest Iowa region makes up 27.4% of the total employment with over 1,700 workers in the Dairy Products Industry. Dairy product production in this region is handled by Wells Dairy, Agropur, Dean Foods, and a few more. Northwestern Iowa is the home of 204 farms across the six counties with over 45,000 milk cows. Over 20% of the nation’s milk cows are within a day’s driving. Iowa is taking center stage in the cheese market with over 21 cheese producers. Don’t be surprised the next time if you pick up some cheese from the supermarket with a label that says “Made in Iowa”. Many people forget that dairy products are an international market commodity.

Wind Energy in Northwest Iowa

The Northwest Iowa region is one of the windiest areas in the country, with most of the area falling into the Class 4 wind category,  which is more than beneficial for wind power and large wind turbines. With more than 500 wind turbines in the area, the wide-ranging impacts of long-term economic success are promising. In Osceola County, the wind generation project will generate enough electricity to power up 45,000 homes. Future developments include implementation of high-voltage transmission lines that will move the Northwestern Iowa’s wind-generated electricity to metropolitan areas reaching as far as to the east of Iowa.

Northwest Iowa is the leader in wind-power generation with a percentage of total power output at just under 27% and is third in the nation. Because of this, a booming supply chain has been developed, which has involved the manufacturing of all major wind turbine components. Over five schools in the region offer Wind Energy Technician Programs. In 2016, Iowa got 36.6% of its power from wind turbines. No other utility can promise rate stability for the next decade like wind energy can.

Advanced Manufacturing

As of 2010, the Manufacturing Sector accounted for just under 15% of total employment in the Northwest Iowa Region, which is more than double than the national percentage in this sector. What makes this region so savvy in this sector is having strong education and training opportunities, which in turn have created a skilled workforce. The Northwest Iowa region draws in its labor from 100,000 potential workers living in the region and surrounding areas.

Manufacturing careers with growth expected by 2020 in Iowa:

  • Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Machining + 23%
  • Transportation & Logistics +19%
  • Machining +17%
  • Industrial Automation +16%
  • Welding +14%
  • Industrial Maintenance + 11
  • Tool & Die +8%
  • Manufacturing Technology +3%

Middle-skill jobs represent nearly 60% of the jobs that make up Iowa’s economy. These are jobs that require training beyond secondary education, but less than a university degree. The jobs are considered high-paying and can be found in all of the state’s industries. In fact, workers with a diploma in high-demand occupations can earn higher salaries than those with college degrees.

Fact: Manufacturing accounts for 87.9% of Iowa’s exports.

If you have any questions about living in Northwestern Iowa, be sure to get in touch with us today! We've lived here for over 65 years. 

Posted by Eric Hoien on
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