Iowa: Manufacturing 4.0 Gets A Boost

The state’s largest industry is set to receive funding, and Google will grow its green data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

By BF Editors
From March/April 2023 issue

Manufacturers in Iowa are getting a boost. In February, Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced the state is investing an additional $2 million in its Manufacturing 4.0 Technology Investment Program to enhance productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness in Iowa’s largest industry (nearly 18% of the state’s GDP ). The program helps small- to mid-size Iowa manufacturers invest in the adoption and integration of smart technologies with grant funding made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Wildflowers bloom around cooling towers at the Google data center in Council Bluffs, IA. (Photo: Google)

“The Manufacturing 4.0 grant program is doing exactly what we intended—helping businesses grow and compete amid a rapidly changing landscape,” said Gov. Reynolds when announcing the funding.

“Manufacturers are using these grants to increase productivity, train workers, improve safety, and cut costs. We now have the opportunity to help more manufacturers invest in technology to support their workforce, promote competition, and ensure future growth.”

Iowa’s Manufacturing 4.0 initiative launched a strategic plan in January 2021 to ensure manufacturers continue to remain globally competitive through the fourth industrial revolution—Industry 4.0—and its emphasis on automation and smart technology. In the first cycle, IEDA granted over $7 million through 202 awards with project investments totaling over $31 million. The program offers two grant opportunities to prioritize both equipment and connectivity with the advanced technology for manufacturers with three to 150 employees.

The manufacturing innovation equipment grant awards up to $50,000 for the purchase of machinery and specialized equipment to improve operations.

The manufacturing industrial internet of things (IIoT) infrastructure investment grant awards up to $25,000 for the purchase of specialized hardware or software in Industry 4.0 technology groups.

Prior to applying, manufacturers complete an Industry 4.0 assessment provided by Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS). Applications were opened on March 1, 2023, to be accepted on a rolling basis until funds are allocated.

Google Growing In Council Bluffs

Meanwhile, IEDA’s work includes assisting new and expanding companies across a variety of industries. In October 2022, the Authority approved a request by Council Bluffs, IA to provide Google a $16.6 million tax break over the next 20 years. The proposed project involves the construction and operations of a data center that powers internet-related products. No new state incentives are planned. Google stated it plans $600 million in capital investment and to create 31 jobs—adding to its 250-person workforce there. Google has been operating in Council Bluffs since 2007.

Microsoft and Facebook also operate data centers in Iowa. The state has affordable and ample wind energy (recognized in 2022 by Business Facilities’ Rankings for Installed Wind Power Capacity), a stable grid, and a high density of telecommunications infrastructure. Also, the state may offer 50% or 100% refunds on sales and use tax for data center projects.

Click here to view Business Facilities’ Iowa Location Profile: Economic development news, contacts, targeted growth sectors, and rankings for companies interested in relocating or expanding to Iowa.