Much of Iowa’s growth in IT is due to the tremendous technological needs of the state’s booming insurance, financial services, advanced manufacturing and biosciences sector. Des Moines is one of the largest insurance hubs in the United States.
The state’s areas of strength include specialized IT applications in finance and insurance, wireless technology, advanced visualization and human-computer interaction systems, and high-reliability, ruggedized computer systems.
Iowa’s renowned research universities offer highly ranked computer engineering programs with an emphasis on technologies with commercial applications.
The Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) at Iowa State University is a world leader in technologies that facilitate the interface between humans and computers. Work begun at the VRAC has successfully spawned entrepreneurial activities involving General Motors, John Deere and the Ford Motor Company.
The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) is the country's premier distance learning and state government broadband carrier network, committed to providing Iowa strong broadband solutions for the education, government, and healthcare sectors of Iowa. The ICN makes it possible for Iowans, physically separated by location, to interact in an efficient, creative, and cost-effective manner. ICN provides high-speed flexible broadband Internet, data, video conferencing, and voice (phone) services to authorized users, under Code of Iowa, which includes: K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals and clinics, state and federal government, National Guard armories, and libraries. The Network makes up an estimated 8,661 miles of fiber cable - 3,400 owned by the State of Iowa and 5,261 leased.
Technology-friendly business climate
Iowa’s commitment to data centers is demonstrated by its friendly tax policies, business climate and aggressive legislative action. Iowa is a right-to-work state that offers flexible assistance for qualifying business expansions or relocations. Its world class workforce and education systems make Iowa a great place to do business.
Data center legislation
To further bolster Iowa’s friendly business climate, legislation was passed in 2009 to assist a range of companies from large to small with multi-level incentives based on qualified investment in Iowa. Depending on the size of investment, data centers are eligible for 50 or 100 percent refund on sales and use tax for:
- Electricity purchased for use in data center
- Power infrastructure equipment
- Computer purchases
- Temperature control equipment
- Cool tower equipment
- Racking systems, including cabling
This unique legislation can mean millions of dollars in savings, making Iowa’s already business-friendly climate — including no corporate income tax on profits from sales made outside of Iowa and no property tax on equipment or computers — even more competitive.
Facebook, Microsoft and Google have established datacenters in Iowa in the past years to benefit from the business climate in Iowa.
Powerful and reliable
Iowa has one of the lowest costs for power in the nation. Selecting an Iowa site can translate directly into savings, considering utility costs are the largest, single operating cost of a high-density data center. In fact, utility costs in Iowa are typically 15 to 20 percent less than the national average. Reliability is also something you can count on in Iowa. In fact, the Midwest region had the least number of Demand Response Events — events that rely on consumers to shift energy usage to avoid blackouts — in the country (North American Electric Reliability Corporation, 2012).
Furthermore, Iowa is a national leader in the percentage of electricity generated by wind with a current output of 6,212 megawatts (AWEA, 2015). That's key to companies like Google who are investing in renewable energy sources of power.
The Iowa Business Accelerators were developed and funded by the Iowa Legislature to propel Iowa's entrepreneurial efforts into successful businesses. In a local and state, public and rivate collaboration, accelerators have been set up in Iowa. The accelerators are staffed by seasoned entrepreneurs who understand how to create high growth businesses. These include:
- Iowa Startup Accelerator (Cedar Rapids) - http://iowastartupaccelerator.com/
- EDC, Inc (Cedar Rapids) – http://www.edcinc.org/
- Square One DSM (Des Moines) - http://www.squareonedsm.com/
There are also industry-specific accelerators such as the Global Insurance Accelerator (Des Moines) and a new agricultural technology accelerator, an initiative at Iowa State University Research Park (Ames).