Manufacturing coming to Iowa amid global economic shift.

Manufacturing floor inside a warehouse

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Manufacturers are streamlining supply chains and bringing manufacturing to the USA. Leisa Fox started MakeDSM to ensure the Iowa manufacturing sector capitalizes on this historic opportunity. 

Apple made huge news by announcing their drawdown of manufacturing in China, but their move is only the most visible sign of a global manufacturing trend ongoing for years.

In this interview, we dig into what increased manufacturing means for Iowa, why we’re strategically positioned to take advantage of the new USA-based manufacturing boom, and what Iowa business owners can do to prepare for the future. We also break down the economic value to Iowans.

Iowa Manufacturing

Iowa manufacturing has a bittersweet history. Most Iowans remember what happened to Newton, Iowa when Maytag left the state, but shipping jobs overseas and widening global supply chains took its toll on American manufacturers and shutdowns related to COVID-19 revealed just how shaky these supply chains had become.

In response, American manufacturers including Apple are tightening their supply chains, pulling out of China, and locating manufacturing facilities to be geographically closer to the markets they serve.

For Iowa manufacturing to thrive, Fox sees the need for a new resource and association where they can share ideas, collaborate and bring manufacturing into Iowa.

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Iowa manufacturing workforce

Fox says Iowa companies need to act today to prepare the future workforce. We can’t grow Iowa manufacturing if we lack the proper workforce and training. Iowa companies can act today to train up their own workforce and reach out to local high schools to recruit new talent.

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Iowa manufacturing advantages

Looking beyond the “rah rah Iowa” rhetoric, the Iowa manufacturing sector has some unique advantages other states can’t easily copy. We have easy access to I-35 and I-80, cheap energy due to wind turbines, centralized location, cheap land, fiber internet, and the Des Moines Airport is rapidly expanding and has International classification.

  • Cheap Iowa energy: Many people are unaware the reason for the state’s cheap energy and wind turbines is because of unique wind patterns through our state. Other states can’t replicate this.
  • Iowa Interstates: Being at the junction of two major interstates is a huge logistical advantage for Iowa over other states.
  • Centralized location: Obviously, our centralized location in the USA is impossible for coastal states to replicate.
  • Cheap land: Iowa is known for its expansive land and extremely low cost of living. Land here is cheap, and that is attractive to manufactures seeking to locate their operations in the USA.
  • Des Moines Airport: 1100 parking spaces will be added next year, and by 2028 the Des Moines International Airport will have a new terminal. A strong airport is vital to a growing manufacturing sector.

Leisa Fox, MakeDSM

Leisa Fox, Founder of Make DSM
Leisa Fox, Founder of MakeDSM

Lesia Fox, director of MakeDSM says for every dollar of domestic manufacturing value-added, another $3.60 of economic activity is generated elsewhere across the Iowa economy. Also for every Iowa manufacturing job, there are 3.4 jobs created in non-manufacturing industries—no other sector comes close to these numbers.

Listen to Leisa’s new podcast, the Iowa Manufacturing Podcast!


MakeDSM is a new entity, launching in March, under FuseDSM. MakeDSM’s goal is to deliver resources to central Iowa manufacturers, preparing them for Iowa’s new manufacturing future.

Founding partners include Spindustry, Raine Recruiting, Brick Gentry, Bergan KDV, The Iowa Clinic, Bing Bang, and TrueNorth.

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