Businesses in Ames and the Heart of Iowa range from global operations to family-run outfits in a range of fields, including agribusiness, life sciences, manufacturing and technology.
Whether it’s global industrial companies or family-owned enterprises, businesses in Ames and the Heart of Iowa feel right at home.
With a location in the heart of the Midwest along Interstate 35 about 40 minutes north of Des Moines, the Ames area boasts a healthy and diverse economy. It is the home of Iowa State University (ISU), the largest university in the state, and the 400-acre ISU Research Park. While ISU is a driving force in Ames, the local economy also includes agribusiness, life sciences, manufacturing and technology.
“We have some long-standing employers that give us a diversified business base, providing jobs and diversifying the economy and tax base,” says Brett Barker, mayor of Nevada, IA, a city of 6,900 residents in Story County. “Historically, Nevada has been aggressive with new industrial partners and expansion. We are at an advantage since we are near Des Moines and Iowa State University.”
“There is a lot that the Ames area has to offer, and we are in a nice spot to attract top talent and businesses.”
Brett Barker | Nevada mayor
Numerous companies have operations in the region, such as Danfoss, a hydraulic and electrification products maker; Hach, a water analysis equipment maker; Workiva, which helps companies manage and report business data; and Zoetis, a global animal health company. Renowned agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere maintains its technology center in Ames.
“This gives folks that either live here or want to live here really great job opportunities,” Barker says. “But it also helps increase the quality of life, allowing the city to provide services with less of a burden on the citizens.”
Expanding Businesses in Ames and the Region
Many of the region’s major employers are expanding. EBY, which manufactures aluminum trailers and truck bodies, recently grew in Story City. The company has a new 20,000-square-foot sales and service center and a newly developed 90,000-square-foot plant. Meat products maker Burke Corporation, part of Hormel Foods, doubled its facility size and significantly expanded its operation in Nevada.
ALMACO, Story County’s oldest business, manufactures agriculture machinery.
Investing in the Future
In July 2021, ALMACO announced its Nevada, Iowa, operation. A $5 million investment for machinery, equipment and R&D will create about 60 jobs.
“We’ve developed a new line of plot harvesters, used by many global seed companies. This new plot harvester, the R-Series Combine, and the growth of the demand for those machines is causing expansion needs here in the business,” says Patrick Clem, ALMACO president and CEO.
ALMACO typifies the innovation that is driving growth in the region. Clem says the company has some unique projects in its product development pipeline, including one around pollination in seed corn production.
“We are partnering with a company to make equipment that collects, preserves and reapplies pollen, helping farmers increase yield and the variety of crops they can produce,” he says.
“What that means locally is we’re going to continue to create opportunities for our workforce as well as hire some great people that can support our mission to assist in feeding the world,” he adds. “We’re hiring for a lot of different areas of our business. Part of our company metrics includes humanity metrics. It is important to us to have a successful business but to also share our time, talent and treasures with the community and have a positive impact on it.”
One of the Best Places to Live in Iowa
Ames is consistently recognized as one of the best places to live in Iowa. Part of its appeal is the ability of residents to shop at homegrown retailers, such as Fareway Meat & Grocery, a family-owned business that has also been awarded a top employer in Iowa.
Fareway Meat & Grocery was founded in Boone in 1938. The company operates 129 grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
“Fareway Meat & Grocery is known for our great meats and great customer service within our grocery department,” says Reynolds Cramer, the company’s CEO. “Our goal as a company – from a customer standpoint – is to create a great customer experience. In addition, we strive to have a great work experience for an employee, whether it’s our overall benefits strategy or schedule flexibility. Either way, we try hard to make every interaction with our stores valuable, because when you’re in the Fareway family, that means something.”
Fabulous Fareway Finds
Next time you visit Fareway Meat & Grocery, be sure to check out these six tasty (and unique!) products:
Ham loaf: A tasty offering you won’t find anywhere else.
Fire Roasted Salsa: Get ready to light up your tastebuds.
Truffle Shuffle Salty Caramel: Ice cream. Need we say more?
Scotcheroos: Chocolate, butterscotch, and more. Mmm.
Monster cookies: You’ll beg for more of this unique treat.
Steak: Freshly cut and sourced from local farmers.