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IEDA to Collaborate with Iowa International Center on Partner States Program

January 16, 2024


more information, contact:
Staci Hupp Ballard
515.348.6245 or

IEDA to Collaborate with Iowa International Center on Partner States Program

January 16, 2024 (Des Moines, IA) – The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced today a new collaborative agreement with the Iowa International Center (IIC) to manage and facilitate the citizen-to-citizen diplomacy components of Iowa’s Partner States, which were established as an opportunity to build connections between Iowans and the international community. From the first partner state of Yamanashi, Japan, in 1960, to Iowa’s most current relationship established with Kosovo in 2013, the partner states have hosted exchanges in agriculture, law, business, culture and education among other areas.

“Iowa’s robust network of partner states has generated goodwill and cooperation and served as the foundation for establishing trade and investment opportunities over the past several decades,” said Debi Durham, director of IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority. “As we begin this new chapter, I look forward to exploring greater opportunities for collaboration and ensuring strategic coordination for productive relationships with Iowa and our partner states.”

As a result of the state government realignment efforts this past legislative session, the authority of managing Iowa’s partner state programming, initiatives, functions and relationships formally transitioned from the non-profit Iowa Sister States organization to IEDA on July 1, 2023. IEDA’s International Trade Office now has a position dedicated to managing Iowa’s partner state relationships and the government and business-related exchanges associated with these entities and collaborating with IIC to facilitate the cultural and educational connections.

Founded in 1938, the IIC began by welcoming and providing safety for refugees fleeing Germany and Poland. Since that time, the non-profit has been providing personal and professional opportunities linking Iowans with people from around the world. Today, in addition to offering access to important educational and cultural resources to Iowans, new Iowans and international visitors in Iowa, IIC provides interpretation and translation services and a variety of programming that fosters international understanding and civic diplomacy.  

“We look forward to partnering with the State to further strengthen long-held and cherished global relationships. For 85 years Iowa International Center has welcomed hundreds of visiting delegations to Iowa. These people-to-people experiences have reinforced – and often been the catalyst for – important economic and cultural connections. We are honored to assist Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority with cultural and citizen diplomacy initiatives between Iowa and its Partner State Affiliates,” said Patricia Grote, executive director, Iowa International Center.

Iowa’s current partner states include:

  • Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan (1960)
  • Yucatan, Mexico (1965)
  • Hebei Province, China (1983)
  • Taiwan (1989)
  • Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine (1996)
  • Veneto Region, Italy (1997)
  • Kosovo (2013)

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