Manufacturing’s Fast Growth Trajectory in Iowa

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In this podcast episode, Leisa Fox explores the significance of manufacturing in Iowa with guest Debbie Durham, Director at Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority.

Iowa has a rich history of supplying the world with various products, and manufacturing holds the largest share in the state’s GDP. The industry has a substantial impact on employment, with 3.6 supportive jobs created for every manufacturing job. Iowa received top marks for manufacturing health in 2020, highlighting its strong economy and diverse manufacturing sector.

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Despite agriculture’s association with Iowa, manufacturing surpasses it as the leading industry. While agriculture contributes around 8-9% to the GDP, manufacturing makes up approximately 18%. However, the foundational role of agriculture is also recognized as many manufacturing plants are located in Iowa due to its agricultural resources.

Creating a Manufacturing Economy in Iowa

Debbie Durham, Director at Iowa Economic Development Authority sits in Iowa Manufacturing Podcast with Host Leisa Fox
Debbie Durham, Director at Iowa Economic Development with Host Leisa Fox

Iowa is perfectly suited to grow its manufacturing base.  An administration that “gets it” doesn’t hurt.  Debi Durham, in her role leading Iowa’s economic development, is no stranger to manufacturing.  She tours hundreds of plants a year and listens closely to the needs of manufacturing leaders.  Iowa’s R & D tax credits, its access to water, affordable utilities, confluence of rivers,  and intersection of major roadways all work together to build a robust manufacturing footprint.  It’s no surprise that manufacturing leads Iowa’s Gross Domestic Product.  

What could make Iowa manufacturing better?

Workforce is an enormous challenging facing every industry.  It is even greater in manufacturing these days because if the inability to work remotely and in many cases, the need for around-the-clock production.  It is the hope of Debi and her team that Iowa manufacturers will take advantage of recent Industry 4.0 programs to leverage technology, data and efficiency to fill the labor gap.

While the gap is painful even in the most populated communities, it is even more pronounced in rural Iowa.  Debi and her team are passionate about getting the resources in place to help this important segment of our economy and livelihood take every advantage they can to compete with other manufacturing hubs like Indiana and Michigan.  These newest programs are just the beginning of the work to be done.

Connect with Debbie on LinkedIn.