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Ames, IA and Story County: Where Talent and Opportunity Intersect

If you are looking for a job in Ames, learn how talent connects with promising careers in expanding industries.

By Bill Lewis on February 7, 2020

Jeff Adkins

Businesses of all kinds, from agriculture to cloud computing, are growing in Ames and Story County, where they find a wealth of resources that help them connect with the top-tier talent they need to succeed.

Talent is a renewable resource that Ames and Story County have in abundance, thanks to the decision by so many graduates of Iowa State University to seek career opportunities locally. More than 36,000 students are enrolled in the university. Some graduate and stay within the market while others boomerang back to the region after a few years in the labor force elsewhere.

“Much of this growth is the result of our market being able to demonstrate an available talent pool in spite of having extremely low unemployment,†says Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce & Ames Economic Development Commission.

An unemployment rate as low as 1.5% might put the brakes on job creation in places where a skilled workforce is harder to find, but businesses are able to relocate and grow in Ames and Story County with confidence that the top-tier talent they need is ready.

Opportunity Blooms in Ames, IA and Story County

Widespread Growth

Businesses as different as Hormel, a food production company with a household name, and Vertex, a software company, are expanding.

Vertex Software expects to fill 300 jobs over the next three years at Iowa State University Research Park, where it announced construction of a 60,000-square-foot facility. Many of those workers will earn more than $100,000 per year.

Vertex is shaping the future of how product development takes place in manufacturing. Embracing advances in cloud computing, Vertex is building solutions to improve the speed and quality of collaboration so teams can make better decisions and get products to market quickly.

Vertex, founded in 2017, is headquartered at the ISU Research Park. The company has announced plans to invest more than $32 million in Ames, including $25 million for research and development.

Ames, IA: ISU Research Park
Ames / Nathan Lambrecht

Investments Create Jobs

“Ames continues to make news with projects that expand and embolden our diverse economy. Last year, we saw a variety of wins with projects from 3M, Burke Corporation, Collins Aerospace and John Deere, just to name a few. Now, we have the enormity of Vertex, whose impact is so significant and continues to underscore our market as a place for world-class software and information technology opportunities,†Culhane says.

Hormel, the global branded food company, announced the investment of $150 million in the expansion of its Burke manufacturing facility in Nevada. Burke is a leading provider of pizza toppings and other fully cooked meat products in the food service and prepared food industries.

The 210,000-square-foot expansion is one of the largest in the company’s history and nearly doubles the previous 225,000 square feet of production, warehouse and office space at the facility. The expansion is expected to create about 210 new jobs, bringing employment to 560.

“The expansion will be a positive force for the Nevada community, bringing added jobs and boosting the local economy. We are proud to expand in Nevada and Story County, where Burke has called home since 1974,†says Chad Randick, president of Burke Marketing Corporation.

Jeff Adkins

Post a Resume

Others are talking about the performance of the local economy. In 2018 the Ames/Story County area was named the best metro job market in the nation by CNBC. One element of that strength is WorkInAmes.com, the Ames/Story County job board.

Members of the workforce can create a free account, post a resume and use the search function to see a list of openings for full-time, part-time and internship positions.

The fastest-growing sectors are food processing, advanced manufacturing and information technology, but jobs are being created across the board, Culhane says.

“The region is very diverse. While we continue to see a strong presence of government employment – education, city government and the state Department of Transportation – we are also enjoying healthy private sector growth that continues to diversify the market,†he says. “Research jobs related to plant science and animal health and a wide array of information technology and software development jobs allow our region to flourish.”

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