By Billi Hunt
Welcome to Iowa! As an Iowa native and lifelong resident, let me be one of the first to welcome everyone arriving in Des Moines for the events of the 2018 World Food Prize. It is an honor to host thousands of passionate, focused innovators all working toward the goal of ending world hunger.
I believe it is especially appropriate to hold this world-renowned event in America’s Cultivation Corridor – a region that is leading the way in agricultural bioscience innovation, research and entrepreneurship. With 1,250 ag bioscience companies located in the Corridor, not only is this where big ideas start, but most importantly, it is where we have the resources to research, test and bring those ideas to reality to benefit farmers and consumers around the world.
Just as the Green Revolution started with the determination and focus of Iowa farm boy Norman Borlaug, the next generation of technologies to sustainably meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population are being developed in the laboratories and fields of the universities, companies and start-ups here in the Corridor.
Strong leadership from established agricultural leaders like John Deere, Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDuPont, Sukup Manufacturing Co., Kent Feeds and many more, provide the foundation of agbioscience industry in the Corridor. Start-ups are flourishing, too, with the support of programs like the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator, Iowa State Startup Factory, and Ag Startup Engine providing training, networking and mentorship opportunities. In the center of Iowa and the agricultural industry is Iowa State University, where innovation is leading the way to solve problems around the world.
The Corridor is a terrific place to call home, with affordable housing, short commutes, world-class education and top-notch dining, shopping and cultural activities. Whether you live in a city, suburb or rural community, you will never be far from the fertile fields that are the foundation of Iowa’s agricultural economy.
I hope you are inspired and invigorated by the Borlaug Dialogue and other World Food Prize events this week and return home ready to make a difference in your communities around the world. Know that your ideas and innovation are always welcome in America’s Cultivation Corridor.
Billi Hunt was named the Executive Director of the Cultivation Corridor in February 2018. She brings 20 years of experience in agriculture and the Iowa business community to the Corridor’s efforts to enhance agricultural sustainability and accelerate business development by attracting new companies, talent and capital to central Iowa. An Iowa native, Hunt received her Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University and her Master of Public Administration from Drake University. She and her husband, Mike Elam, and children live in Urbandale, Iowa.