The Corridor’s Best of 2017: Cultivating an Innovative Iowa

Screen-Shot-2017-01-09-at-1.10.01-PM1-11.) Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) was awarded a five-year MEP contract renewal. Funds will be matched with state, university and private investment, to create a total five-year program budget of roughly $18.6 million.

The award means CIRAS will continue to serve as Iowa’s affiliate of the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Manufacturers Extension Partnership, a nationwide network of centers created to enhance the performance of U.S. manufacturing. Through this partnership, CIRAS will continue providing services to help small- to mid-sized manufacturers improve their businesses and will add new services to help all Iowa manufacturers navigate rapidly changing technologies and business models.

2.) Kemin Industries opened a new worldwide headquarters in Des Moines. The new building is a $30 million investment, and completes a five-year, $125.5 million overall investment in Kemin Des Moines facilities.

In a February 7 press release, Kemin Industries announced more than 600 Des Moines-based Kemin employees moved in to their new worldwide headquarters building, located at 1900 Scott Avenue.

In August, Kemin hosted a ceremony to celebrate the grand opening for its worldwide headquarters. 

3.) Deere & Company opened a strategic technology office in the Iowa State University Research Park. The office will collaborate with the company’s business units to complement John Deere’s global network of technology and innovation centers.

“Working with Iowa State University helps John Deere continue its leadership in precision agriculture and many other areas of technology that are important to our customers,” said John May, Deere’s president of agricultural solutions and its chief information officer.

Deere’s recent work with Iowa State that has included funding some activities at the university’s research farm will expand with this effort.

4.) Exemplar Genetics founder and CEO John Swart received the Cultivation Corridor Iowa Biotech Leadership Award at this year’s Partner for Growth Forum. Former Monsanto executive Ted Crosbie was also honored posthumously for his contributions to the State and industry.

According to the press release, Swart founded Exemplar Genetics in 2008 in Sioux Center, Iowa. The company develops specialized miniature swine models that are genetically engineered to exhibit a wide variety of human disease states, to provide a more accurate platform to test the efficacy of new medications and devices. Exemplar Genetics is now part of the Intrexon family of companies, which provide innovative products in the health, food, environment, energy and consumer sectors.

Additionally, special recognition was awarded posthumously to former Monsanto executive and industry leader Dr. Ted Crosbie who passed away suddenly in 2017.

5.) Ames-based animal health company GlobalVetLINK (GVL®) was named the Iowa Agricultural Technology Company of the Year during the Technology Association’s 2017 Prometheus Awards.

Sponsored by Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor, the award recognizes an Ag tech company that demonstrates industry leadership in the development and deployment of hardware/software agricultural technologies and applications.

6.) The Greater Des Moines Partnership was recognized as a top economic development organization, receiving a Site Selection magazine’s Mac Conway Award. 

The award was based on six criteria: total projects, total investment associated with those projects and total jobs associated with those projects; and those same three numbers calculated per capita for the metro area. The Partnership reported contributing to:

  • $569 million in new capital investments
  • 24 local business expansion projects
  • 12 new companies relocating to Greater Des Moines (DSM) in 2016

This led to 1,842 new or retained jobs. Since 1999, The Partnership has assisted with more than 500 projects that located or expanded in the region.

7.) The Corridor’s 2016-2017 annual report, Growing Forward: Breakthrough stories from inside Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor, was released in June.

The report documents 36 months of agritech innovation and economic achievements in the corridor from the Cultivation Corridor’s launch in 2014 up to its accomplishments in 2017. The report also includes four individual’s success stories from inside the Corridor.

8.) In August, Apple announced a significant investment to build a data center in Waukee, Iowa.

The data center will:

  • >$1.3 billion investment
  • 100% wind powered
  • Set on 2,000 acres of land
  • Create at least 50 jobs at a qualifying wage of at least $29.12 per hour

9.) The Kent Corporation committed $8 million, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board $4 million and Sukup Manufacturing Co. $2 million to support a new Iowa State University feed milling and grain science facility.

The $21.2 million feed mill and grain science complex will be committed to improving and accelerating education and work in feed milling and grain technology. A feed mill tower and feed milling and mixing structures, grain storage bins and a one-story classroom and laboratory building are predicted to be included at the complex.

10.) Sukup Manufacturing Company opened an office in the ISU Research Park in Ames, Iowa.

“Sukup Manufacturing has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, which has created the ideal time to grow in locations,” said Charles Sukup, company president. “We view opening this new office in Ames as an opportunity to capitalize on the engineering and technical expertise of both students at Iowa State University and professionals at the Iowa State University Research Park. Proximity to these exceptional institutions will only allow Sukup Manufacturing to leverage additional talent and realize further growth and success.”

11.) In September, Governor Kim Reynolds led a trade mission to Israel.

Reynolds’ main goals were to seek expanded trade and investment opportunities for Iowa. The Iowa Economic Development Authority coordinated the mission.

12.) The Cultivation Corridorhosted the Governor’s Reception, an official World Food Prize side event, during the 2017 Borlaug Dialogue international symposium.

On October 18th, Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor partnered with the Ames Chamber of Commerce, Greater Des Moines Partnership, and Iowa State University to host the reception, convening global food and Iowa leaders during the World Food Prize (WFP).

Highlights from the reception:

  • Iowa was emphasized as having a leading role in food and agriculture innovation
  • Governor Kim Reynolds gave a speech on the value agricultural entrepreneurs provide for people, communities, and Iowa as well as for the rest of the world by pursuing opportunities that make agriculture more productive, innovative, and resourceful.
  • Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in a special announcement said his State has laid the foundation for the establishment of a Seed Research and Technology Business Center and Mega Seed Park in the Kurnool district. Naidu stated the project is part of a public-private partnership between Iowa State University and others.
  • Representatives from the Ag Startup Engine, the ISU Startup Factory and Iowa AgriTech Accelerator programs, all of which make up the Cultivation Corridor’s “Ag Startup Ecosystem,” gave presentations to close the reception.

13.) Deere & Co. proposes $32.6 million facility expansion in Urbandale.

Deere & Co. is looking to build a $32.6 million facility in Urbandale to house its intelligent solutions group. Currently, Deere’s intelligent solutions group employs 343 workers in leased space in Urbandale, including software developers, systems engineers and product testers. The new facility would add 31 new jobs and retain 20 with the project.

The project, located on about six acres, will help anchor Urbandale’s business development area called the Urban Loop.

14.) Economic Development – Overall: The Corridor and its partners delivered close to 900 jobs to Central Iowa in 2017 and nearly $740 million in capital and research investments to Iowa!