If you haven’t heard, Ames was recently named the Technology Community of the Year by the Technology Association of Iowa. It’s a big deal and serves as validation for numerous people working tirelessly to put Ames on the radar in the tech community.
Ames was up against some tough competition for this recognition – Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, the Des Moines metro area, Spencer and Urbandale were also nominated for the tech community of the year award. But I think the projects completed in the past year and our commitment to improvement made Ames a natural selection this year.
Growth was a huge factor in our success this past year. Many of our tech businesses continue to grow and hire new employees. Xpanxion recently added over 40 jobs and moved to a larger space here in Ames. Assisted by the IEDA and the City of Ames, the total capital investment in this project was $785,600. 2016 also saw the opening of some new buildings, notably Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica ($22 million invested), the Economic Development Core Facility (EDCF), and a multimillion dollar investment was realized with the opening of the Vermeer building.
There are dozens of technology businesses that have made the decision to call Ames home fueling a thriving technology culture and providing inspiration to other companies to expand and grow here. With Iowa State University and the DMACC Hunziker Academy, there is a constant flow of talented workforce available to technology companies. Iowa State University, along with the ISU Research Park, encourages economic growth in Ames which only helps technology businesses thrive.
We have also made a point to inspire innovation and encourage entrepreneurship here in Ames. The Startup Factory, a year-long program for recent graduates to work on their emerging businesses, is home to more than a dozen startups and is housed in the previously mentioned Vermeer building. Technologies coming out of The Startup Factory include a cold-solder technique that could revolutionize manufacturing, predictive real estate software and technologies, an algal wastewater treatment system, and a software built to manage complex data. The amount of innovation housed here is truly mind-blowing.
Other organizations of note include the Ames IT Collaborative, Ames Seed Capital, the Iowa Cyber Alliance, Startup Ames, and more. They are all essential for making Ames a vibrant place for technology.
Finally, I believe it’s the collaborative nature of the types of companies that choose to locate here in Ames. We are extremely fortunate to have some exemplary corporate citizens. Business leaders at technology companies are invested in the community and work with other community leaders to solve problems present in every community such as a strong workforce, affordable housing, and necessary infrastructure. They also support projects that move Ames forward. Initiatives this year include advocating for stronger internet connection downtown, airport improvements near the ISU Research Park, and a 1300-acre annexation, all in an effort to support both new and existing companies that are strong users and creators of technology. These bonds between business leaders, the University and DMACC, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and researchers are invaluable.
This teamwork is what makes so special. The heavy lifting is never done alone. The bonds between business leaders, the University and DMACC, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and researchers all make Ames a truly unique place and the title of Technology Community of the Year is well-deserved. Congrats to all! The Ames community should be extremely proud!
-Dan Culhane, President & CEO