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The biggest myth about small-town America

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The nation's most innovative county is not a tech hub like Silicon Valley or even Manhattan's Silicon Alley. It's Guthrie County in Iowa, a prairie community an hour's drive west of Des Moines. The Northeast, the Upper Midwest and California's coast remain the workhorses of invention in the country, filing half of all patents, according to data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Census Bureau.

Residents of the 10,000-person Guthrie County filed 82 utility patents in 2013, giving the county the distinction of most innovative in relation to population that year. Because of how the U.S. Patent Office compiles their information, data from 2013 are the most recent available. Most of the patents filed in Guthrie are for soybean and corn cultivars, the industrial agriculture creations of companies like Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer.