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Iowa: A smart investment in America's Midwest

March 10, 2022
Iowa: A smart investment in America's Midwest

This story originally appeared on CFO Dive.

Though some may know Iowa for abundant cornfields, strong Midwestern work ethic and the spirited role it plays in presidential politics each quadrennium, there's much more to the state. With a pro-business regulatory environment, affordable operational costs and one of the lowest state insurance premium taxes in the nation, Iowa provides an ideal environment to expand, relocate or launch a business. As companies continue navigating uncertain waters, the state has implemented grant programs, tax deferrals, workforce development initiatives and other targeted programs to foster an environment where businesses can achieve sustained growth.

A business-friendly environment

Coupled with one of the United States' lowest costs of doing business and a skilled workforce, Iowa offers a business-friendly environment where innovation and growth aren't only encouraged, they're incentivized. Iowa's Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit (which benefits companies that produce renewable chemicals in Iowa by offering up to $1 million annually) was named by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the strongest state incentive for the bio-based chemical industry in the nation. Iowa offers innovation-based incentives as well — the Research Activities Tax Credit alleviates the potential financial risk associated with R&D investments, and ultimately, improves the potential for profitability.

Infrastructure that ships globally

Iowa's central geographic location in the heart of the United States provides for a transportation infrastructure that can support multi-modal logistics in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Two major coast-to-coast, border-to-border interstate arteries travel through Iowa, and the state has more public road miles than the entire United States Interstate System. This vast network of roads, highways and interstates connects to more than 3,800 miles of rail freight track as well as 60 barge terminals on the nearby Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Through the air, more than 616 million pounds of cargo make their way through Iowa's airports each year. 

Affordable sustainable energy

As industrial energy costs increase, the demand for cost-efficient renewable energy solutions has never been greater. Compounding this challenge is the need for companies to implement sustainable practices across all operations given the ever-changing regulatory landscape and premiums placed on limited natural resources. 

Thanks to an abundant supply of raw materials, Iowa is the nation's leader in renewable fuel production with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 4.2 billion gallons each year. Additionally, Iowa is home to 10 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce approximately 445 million gallons annually.

Iowa also ranks first in the nation in wind energy (as a percentage of total power output), and numerous companies have invested heavily in the state's wind power to fuel their operations. Both the public and private sectors are committed to furthering investments in wind energy with more than $19 billion allocated to wind-related projects and an additional 1,211 MW to wind capacity planned by the state's utilities.

Development-ready sites

When considering operational expansion, time is of the essence as companies typically don't have the luxury of investing significant amounts of time into the site selection process. As business needs rapidly change, scaling up quickly can be a game-changer for long-term profitability. With that need in mind, Iowa's Certified Sites program offers sites with large square footage options that are well-suited for fast-tracked projects. 

The Certified Sites program considers national site location standards, Iowa's natural assets and the needs of key business sectors, including advanced manufacturing, finance and insurance and biosciences. Unlike some states that certify shovel-ready sites by their own criteria (which vary widely), Iowa's certification program leverages nationally recognized standards and an independent, third-party site selection firm.

To become certified, sites go through a rigorous review process and all resulting issues must be mitigated within a pre-determined timeline. The outcome is a "risk-free" site which accelerates the development schedule for today's fast-moving business environment.

A smart investment

A unique combination of innate characteristics, strategic initiatives and shovel-ready sites have positioned Iowa as a leading option for domestic and international business. A vibrant economy provides the ideal climate for growth and innovation, while its central North American location, nationally recognized research centers and low cost of doing business give companies operating in the state a substantial competitive edge. For more information, contact