Iowa: Leading a Revolution in 21st Century Industries | Business Facilities - Area Economic Development, Site Selection & Workforce Solutions

With the nation’s largest supply of biomass, the Hawkeye State is leading the way in biofuels, biochemicals, plastics and adhesives.
With the nation’s largest supply of biomass, the Hawkeye State is leading the way in biofuels, biochemicals, plastics and adhesives.

Iowa: Leading a Revolution in 21st Century Industries

Iowa: Leading a Revolution in 21st Century Industries | Business Facilities - Area Economic Development, Site Selection & Workforce Solutions

With the nation’s largest supply of biomass, the Hawkeye State is leading the way in biofuels, biochemicals, plastics and adhesives.

From wind energy to biorenewables, Iowa is aggressively focusing on the development of a 21st century bioeconomy. With the nation’s largest supply of biomass, the state is leading the way in biofuels, biochemicals, plastics, and adhesives. Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production with 38 ethanol plants in operation that produce 3 billion gallons per year and account for more than 25 percent of the entire U.S. ethanol production. Iowa was one of the first states with commercial biodiesel production facilities and currently is fourth in the nation in biodiesel production with 14 biodiesel plants that produce 318 million gallons per year.

Iowa has invested in the renewable energy industry by not only creating the Office of Energy Independence [] and the $100-million Iowa Power Fund [] to attract cutting-edge renewable energy research and development, but also through its $500-million Grow Iowa Values Fund which offers businesses the financial and technical footing needed to succeed.

Iowans also realize that establishing infrastructure is just as important as innovation when it comes to renewable fuel. The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board oversees a program authorizing grants to assist retail and wholesale fuel dealers with E85 infrastructure or blender pumps.

Iowa has world-class research institutions that are creating enormous potential for life-changing advances. University research concentrated in plant, animal and human genomics form the foundation for a system of interrelated disciplines and areas of study that support and assist one another. This groundbreaking research and the scientists behind it are readily accessible to the bioscience companies in Iowa. The state’s biofuels industries have added $11.5 billion to Iowa’s economy, generated $2.3 billion in new household income and created and supported 70,000 Iowa jobs. The state also provides the R&D resources and funding to continue to grow the industry.

In keeping with it’s commitment to growing the biofuel industry in the state, Iowa’s State Energy Program through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act recently awarded $933,000 for renewable fuels education, marketing and outreach efforts to help boost increased use of both ethanol-blended gasoline and biodiesel.

The Magellan Pipeline Company, L.P., received $500,000 in grant assistance to install new equipment that will allow for the unloading, storage and blending of biodiesel at their Des Moines, IA terminal.

Kum & Go, L.C. was awarded a $400,000 grant to install four or more ethanol blender pumps at 10 new Kum & Go stations for a total of 40 individual blender pumps. These blender pumps will allow Iowa consumers more choices of ethanol blended gasoline.

The Iowa Biodiesel Board will receive a $33,000 grant to educate Iowa diesel technicians on the benefits of biodiesel through their Biodiesel for Diesel Technicians Program.

The Iowa Power Fund Board also recently awarded $2.1 million for projects to build a biodiesel refinery near Forest City, IA. The Board awarded Growth Design Energy, Mt. Valley, $1.5 million to construct a refinery and increase biodiesel production by three million gallons a year using second-generation refining technologies with non-food waste oils as feedstocks.

Grant funds of $699,500 were awarded to assist the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service to expand existing Green Corps and AmeriCorps programs to support the training of Iowa veterans to implement statewide energy efficiency improvements for low income, elderly and veterans’ homes using energy audits, weatherization and energy efficiency education and outreach.

Growth Design Energy and ICVS will leverage more than $12.3 million in matching funds to bring the total cost of the two projects to more than $14.5 million.

The Power Fund has invested more than $65.2 million directly in 45 competitive projects, leveraging more than $576 million in energy research and development, early-stage commercialization and education.


Cargill recently increased its presence in Iowa by purchasing a corn wet mill ethanol plant in Fort Dodge, IA.

“We believe that a highly efficient, well-located corn wet mill ethanol plant fits well into our bio-product portfolio,” says Alan Willits, president of Cargill Corn Milling North America. “We see an opportunity in Fort Dodge to replicate the success we have had at our Blair, NE, and Eddyville, IA bio-refinery campuses.”

The Fort Dodge facility has the ability to grind 150,000 bushels of corn per day and produce 115 million gallons of ethanol per year.

“This investment demonstrates Cargill’s continued commitment to Iowa agriculture,” says Gov. Terry Branstad. “The Fort Dodge facility will create over 100 jobs in Webster County and help provide an alternative market for local producers.”

“The corn wet mill ethanol plant will provide the base load corn grind for the campus, and we hope to support additional business growth in the coming years,” adds Willits. “When completed, Fort Dodge will be a world class bio-refinery campus that will produce ethanol and other bio-based products. We will achieve energy and operational efficiency while respecting the environment and natural resources, as we have in Blair and Eddyville.”


Iowa is one the nation’s leaders in the renewable energy industry. The state has been investing in R&D and next generation technologies, not just in biofuels, but also in wind energy. The state ranks first in the nation in wind generation output, getting 17% to 20% of its power from wind, according to the Iowa Utilities Board in 2010. Iowa was awarded the State Leadership Award by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in 2008 for its leadership in advancing America’s wind energy industry. In 2009, the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report pointed out, “Iowa comes in second for wind jobs; home to five major wind manufacturers, Iowa is the leader for workers employed in manufacturing for the wind industry and second for construction and operations and management.” The state ranked 2nd nationally in installed capacity in AWEA’s 2009 report.

Centrally located, Iowa is at the heart of a region that not only boasts some of the nation’s most abundant wind resources, but is also is where four proposed transmission lines converge to allow Midwestern wind to be distributed to various regional transmission systems.

To keep creating growth in this industry, the state established the Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development (IAWIND), as a partnership between state and local governments, community colleges, universities, private sector organizations, community organizations and the federal government. The alliance is the first of its kind, and is designed to serve as a catalyst for the growth of the industry and to support and facilitate the research and training needs of wind energy companies. Numerous Iowa community colleges provide programs that facilitate the training needs of wind energy companies. Iowa Lakes Community College’s program is the first of its kind in the nation and has received the AWEA’s Seal of Approval in 2011.

Alltech, a global animal health and nutrition company, recently snipped the ribbon on the company’s newest location in Ames, IA, with Gov. Branstad presiding. The new Alltech facility will support sales in Iowa, offer a local support site for its growing customer base and help the company develop a closer partnership with Iowa State University.

“I am pleased today to welcome Alltech to Iowa,” Gov. Branstad said. “Alltech has consistently demonstrated a commitment to quality in all facets of their business and I believe they will thrive in Iowa, where they will have access to a superior workforce and provide valuable resources to Iowa’s agriculture and livestock industry.”

“As a global animal health and nutrition company, we seek out places that are centers for agricultural productivity,” says Alltech president, Dr. Pearse Lyons. “Alltech will now be able to offer improved service to America’s Heartland in a distribution and sales capacity.”

Founded by Dr. Lyons, Alltech has 30 years’ experience in developing natural products that are scientifically proven to enhance animal health and performance. With more than 2,300 employees in 128 countries, the company has developed a strong regional presence in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The facility in Ames will be Alltech’s 16th location in North America.

“We are excited about the opportunity to have a local facility to better serve the swine, poultry, dairy and beef industries of Iowa,” says Stuart McGregor, Alltech Midwest territory sales manager. “We will have sales, marketing and administration working out of this office to support Iowa, and we expect Iowa to be a significant part of our goal of being a $250- million region by 2015,” says Dr. Mark Lyons, director of Alltech North America.


Valent BioSciences Corporation (VBC) recently announced that it will construct a new state-of-the-art fermentation manufacturing facility in Osage, IA, for the production of biorational agricultural, horticultural, public health and forestry products. This facility will be the largest single investment of any company in the world to support the manufacturing and formulating of biorational products.

“Valent BioSciences investment in Iowa will provide quality jobs for the people of North Central Iowa,” says Gov. Branstad. “This investment, along with the recent investments by Alltech and Cargill, demonstrates the confidence businesses have in Iowa as we build on a sound fiscal foundation, while reducing the tax and regulatory burden on business.”

Michael Donaldson, VBC president and chief executive officer, says the facility represents an estimated $150-million investment, with full-scale commercial operations to begin in 2014.

“Valent BioSciences Corporation has been working on plans to relocate our manufacturing operations for some time,” says Donaldson. “After reviewing an extensive list of options, we are excited about our plans to construct a state-of-the-art fermentation manufacturing facility in Iowa that will produce product with the stringent, high-quality requirements that our customers rely upon and trust. Osage was a logical selection due to VBCs longtime relationship with the A to Z Drying, Inc. operation and the favorable financial and labor environment in Iowa.”

The 73-acre campus will include a 130,000-square-foot building along with associated processing and purification equipment, offices, warehouses and quality assurance laboratories. The facility will have annual fermentation capacity in excess of 15 million gallons. A total of 89 jobs will be created as a result of this project.

“Valent BioSciences Corporation’s investment announcement in Osage is critically important for this community,” says Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Valent BioSciences Corporation plans to invest $132 million in the local community in addition to the $500,000 the Department of Economic Development will provide for upgrades to the Osage waste water system.”

Valent BioSciences Corporation is headquartered in Libertyville, IL and is the worldwide leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of biorational products, with sales in more than 90 countries around the world. Products include microbial pesticides and plant growth regulators used in agricultural and forestry markets, microbial-based products for use in public health markets, and insecticides used in household consumer markets.


Flexsteel Industries, Inc., the nation’s eighth largest furniture manufacturer, recently announced plans to construct a $12-million, four-story, 40,000-square-foot, corporate office building in Dubuque, IA.

“Our corporate offices have been at the north Jackson Street location since 1936,” says Ron Klosterman, Flexsteel’s president and CEO. “After 75 years, the office facility is out-of-date both structurally and technologically. Our business has changed over the past 118 years and continues to evolve. We appreciate the dedication shown by our associates and we are excited about the opportunity to provide them with a greatly improved working environment, both aesthetically and functionally.”

Following both Flexsteel’s and the City of Dubuque’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the building will be designed to be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, including a design that utilizes large windows to make use of natural light. The new corporate office will feature Flexsteel’s world-class products throughout, including their DMI commercial office, and Flexsteel hospitality and home furnishings lines. The building will allow for expansion to take advantage of future growth opportunities.

“We see the new headquarters as an ideal place to conduct business and show our visitors the natural beauty of the expanding Port of Dubuque,” says Justin Mills, Flexsteel’s Director of Advertising and Public Relations. “As we expand on the success of the area and continue our investment in our vital and growing community, we are confident that this is a great location for our corporate offices.”

There are 315 employees in Dubuque, IA, including the approximately 100 associates that will be relocated to the new building. These employees provide administrative and management services to the global operations of Flexsteel and its wholly-owned subsidiary DMI. Additionally, these employees manage residential and commercial products in areas including design, manufacturing, marketing, supply-chain management, purchasing, engineering, advertising, customer service, credit management, information systems, and accounting. Flexsteel employs 1,250 people worldwide at facilities/offices in Iowa, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Mexico, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

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