With Ames’ large public-sector employers and diverse collection of private businesses, community leaders realized they needed a single clearinghouse of information about living and working in the city.
“We were continuing to grow our employment opportunities [and] we needed a stand-alone website,” says Brenda Dryer, director of Existing Industry and Workforce Solutions for the Ames Chamber of Commerce. “We built a brand and message around employment in Story County.”
The website, WorkInAmes.com, boasts more than 1,600 job postings per day, and the site received more than 120,000 search inquiries by the end of 2018. This tool creates ways for job seekers like Josh Doering to stay where they’ve grown roots.
Thanks to the active connections between public and private entities, Doering landed a role with Kingland Systems in Ames, keeping him close to home.
“I have the opportunity to gain professional work experience at a growing company within one of the top rising industries,” Doering says.
Home Base Iowa
The Home Base Iowa (HBI) program was launched under former Governor Terry Branstad and Major General Tim Orr, the adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard. HBI was developed as a private-public partnership to recruit veterans and transitioning service members and help them find careers in Iowa.
California native and West Point graduate Lauren Cooper made an impactful relationship with her employer in Ames, and now she’s established a deeper connection with her new Iowa home.
“I did a three-week internship with Renewable Energy Group,” Cooper says. “I really enjoyed the research project, learning opportunities, and employees I interacted with. When I discovered I may not be able to commission my senior year, I reached out to let them know I would potentially be in need of a job, and they had an opening for a chemical engineer. I interviewed with my current boss and was offered a position.”
If there’s one cherished value for Midwesterners, it’s Dorothy Gale’s mantra, “there’s no place like home.” The Technology Association of Iowa is banking on it. The Iowan Project is all about mining natives’ connections to Iowa and reminding them it’s never too late to come home! Iowa tech companies post jobs to the website, which is also sprinkled with quality-of-life stats. Semi-annual meet-ups and online pins allow ex-pats to connect with one another wherever they may currently reside, deepening the affection for Iowa. The program is luring back Iowans, particularly in tech sectors.
Alex Kharbush, an engineer manager at Workiva in Ames, thought he needed to be on the West Coast for a successful tech career, but The Iowan Project reminded him the proverbial grass is just as green back home.
“The biggest change was really those quality-of-life things, like being able to afford a real house and a 20-minute commute,” Kharbush says. “I am so happy I moved back.”