As thousands of farmers and ag industry professionals descend on Boone, Iowa, for the 2022 Farm Progress Show, Iowa’s leadership in the ag industry will be in the spotlight. With more than 600 exhibitors and attendance from 46 states on average each year, the nation’s largest outdoor farm event is where the industry’s leaders, innovators, and founders come to learn and connect.
Held every other year at its Iowa location, Farm Progress is just one of many examples of Iowa serving as the epicenter for global leadership in agriculture, food, and biosciences. World Pork Expo, World Food Prize and numerous trade, consulate visits and a variety of national and regional events bring the world to Iowa throughout the year, highlighting the robust network of resources across the state.
“Farmers, ag professionals, and leaders around the world know that when they come to Iowa, they are in close proximity to leading researchers, companies, and funders to make the next generation of technologies and ideas possible,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “Whether it is founding or scaling up a startup, connecting with leading global brands, taking a job at a growing company, or joining the ranks of research scientists in the state, there are opportunities in nearly every sector of agriculture and in communities of all sizes.”
Learning and Connecting
As travel and in-person events fill calendars again, Iowa is seeing a boom in events, meetings and shows of all sizes, highlighting the critical role the state plays in connecting the world’s agricultural leaders.
“We are honored to host a number of signature agriculture industry events in the Greater Des Moines region in the heart of America’s Cultivation Corridor, including the Farm Progress Show, World Pork Expo, World Food Prize, and many others,” said Jay Byers, president & CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Attendees from across the world have an opportunity to meet with Iowa’s ag business leaders, tour companies and farms across the state, learn about the latest trends in ag technology and research, explore opportunities to do business in Iowa, and experience the restaurants, hotels, and attractions that contribute to our region’s vibrancy.”
World Pork Expo draws more than 10,000 pork producers and ag professionals over its three-day run each June, and the events of the World Food Prize attract scientists, government officials, and development organizations from around the world every October. Events like the Iowa State Fair, cultural festivals, music events, and local farmers markets bring Iowans together to celebrate the state’s culture and communities.
Even in the state’s urban centers, it is just a short drive to a farm field or livestock barn to see technologies in action and get feedback from potential customers on how new ideas can be applied in a real-world setting.
Building and Innovating
Iowa’s entrepreneur and start-up ecosystem continues to boom thanks to a strong combination of research capabilities, funding and support resources, lower operating costs, and access to building and office space.
From the Ag Startup Engine in Ames to NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids to John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers and Small Business Development Centers across the state, resources are available to help entrepreneurs at every stage in the research, development, scaleup and commercialization phase.
“Iowa is the center of the universe for both educating students and on-the-ground use of row crop and livestock products and services,” said Roger Underwood, entrepreneur and partner in Riverwood Management, LLC. “If your goal is to conduct research to tailor your product to the U.S. market and get it in fields or barns quickly, Iowa is where you need to be. The long list of leading companies located at Iowa State University Research Park is a great example of this.”
More than 100 companies are located in the ISU Research Park located just south of the university’s main campus. These range from the 33,000 square feet Technology Innovation Center that John Deere opened in 2019, to research and development facilities for leading companies like Kent Corporation, Sukup Manufacturing Co, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck, Vermeer Corporation, and Zoetis, to office and lab spaces for new startups in every phase of development.
Living and Working
Career opportunities in nearly every segment of agriculture, renewable fuels, biosciences, and food are available in the state, with a strong concentration of industry professionals to network and connect with. The state of Iowa claims the highest concentration of agricultural engineers, the second highest concentration of animal scientists, and the third most plant and soil scientists of any state in the U.S.
Ames, Iowa, is not only the home of Iowa State University and its College of Veterinary Medicine, but also the USDA’s National Animal Disease Center, National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Center for Veterinary Biologics, as well as several private animal health companies. Together, these organizations have made Ames a hub for animal health research and animal vaccine development.
Finally, Iowa’s communities are earning spots at the top of lists for quality of life and opportunities, such as CNBC’s Top Ten Best Places to Live, one of 25 up-and-coming technology markets, and top 10 most livable college towns. In addition to a top-notch quality of life, the lower cost of living makes Iowa a perfect place to call home.
“Whether it is a one-on-one meeting with industry or government leaders, or trade shows drawing tens of thousands of guests, anyone interested in the latest innovations, technologies or breakthroughs in agriculture and biosciences is coming to Iowa,” said Dan Culhane, president and CEO of Ames Chamber of Commerce.