Why Iowa? Q&A with Tracy Uhlman

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Tracy Uhlman has called Iowa home since moving to the state to work at John Deere after graduating from Washington State University. She spent nearly 19 years with John Deere in a variety of roles and locations across the state, including at Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group in Urbandale, Iowa.

She joined America’s Cultivation Corridor in 2021 as senior director of strategy and project management, to lead the Cultivo Virtual Academy and other Corridor programs. Tracy and her family live in central Iowa and enjoy spending time together outside. They also raise corn and soybeans in central Iowa with their family.

1. What brought you to Iowa … and why did you stay?

While a job opportunity brought me to Iowa, it is the quality of life that has kept me here. My husband is from Iowa and this is where we are raising our family and farming. The state of Iowa has an abundance of qualities including outdoor recreational opportunities, the arts, good schools and churches, and phenomenally kind people, just to name a few. I love the area that I grew up in, but Iowa is where I want my children to grow up and where I choose to spend my life!

2. What advantages does Iowa provide entrepreneurs and innovators?

The Iowa startup ecosystem is thriving and well positioned to support entrepreneurs and innovators in all spaces, especially those involved with the food and ag industry. “Accessible” is a word Director Durham with Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority used to describe the startup scene here and that resonated with me. That is what startups and innovators in Iowa experience. People are interested in what can be done to make things better, taking the next evolutionary step, and driving the industry forward. Here you can make a call, send an email or DM and chances are very good that a helpful connection will be made. Just a few of the resources for innovators and entrepreneurs include Cultivo Virtual Academy, Iowa State University Research Park, Ag Startup Engine, ISU John Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and CyBIZ Lab.

The Cultivo program is geared toward global companies looking to enter the U.S. marketplace. Why is Iowa the right place for those entrepreneurs to learn about the US market?
The Cultivo Virtual Academy is targeted towards international food and ag startups who are working towards US market entry in the next 1-3 years. The program focuses on connecting participants with Iowa’s agricultural leaders and the robust startup community. Iowa is well positioned to host this program with its leadership in the food and ag industry as well as biosciences.

3. What advice do you have for people considering a move to Iowa?

Come and check Iowa out with an open mind! There is something here for everyone from the Lauridsen Skatepark and endless bike trails to gorgeous parks and farmer’s markets and everything in between! I would recommend coming when the weather is good enough to get a round of golf in on one of the many courses. This is a wonderful place to enjoy life and have a career that you are passionate about.

4. Please give us three recommendations of place to go or things to do in Iowa.

The Des Moines Metro Opera is a gem. The company puts on a summer festival comprised of a unique mix of productions that intrigue both new and long-time opera fans!

The state and county parks across Iowa have much to offer like kayaking, cross country skiing, horseback riding, hiking, camping, golf and wonderful conservation programs. Jester Park has a great mix of activities in a beautiful setting and their classes are fun and educational.

Attend a women’s or men’s Iowa State University basketball game at Hilton Coliseum. The atmosphere and energy at those games is unreal!