Iowa will lead $250B renewable-fuels industry: Gov. Branstad

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
Source: Office of the Governor of Iowa
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad

Iowans embrace challenges. Innovation and a strong work ethic is deeply rooted in our culture, and we're not afraid to tackle global problems, whether that's sustainable feeding of the world or harnessing renewable energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Our public and private sectors are nimble and collaborate to elevate the skills and talent of the state's workers to meet the needs of the global economy. We understand our strengths and put economic development strategies in place to maximize on those assets. All of this effort is working to sustain a growing and diverse economy and raise the standard of living for all Iowans.

As I look ahead to the next decade, I envision Iowa at the forefront of the biorenewable chemicals industry, capturing a majority of the estimated $250 billion industry. With overwhelming support from the state legislature and industry leaders, I introduced the Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Program, a first in the nation incentive program. The competitive program will aggressively jump-start the state's growth in this sector, attract business expansions and position Iowa's talented workers for prosperity.

"As the top producer of corn and soybeans, with a network of more than 50 bioprocessing sites, Iowa is the best possible location for biochemical research and advanced biorefining operations."

As the top producer of corn and soybeans, with a network of more than 50 bioprocessing sites, Iowa is the best possible location for biochemical research and advanced biorefining operations. Many of these industrial facilities have made Iowa the No. 1 producer of ethanol and second in the nation for biodiesel, resulting in the country's second-largest supply of available biomass.

In addition to the close proximity of available biomass, which is used to develop the biochemicals replacing petroleum-based inputs, the state's robust transportation infrastructure provides easy access to national and international markets

Not only do we have the biomass inputs and the costly infrastructure already in place, the state has established bio-based chemical research hubs. Iowa is home to the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, led by Iowa State University, the ISU BioCentury Research Farm and the University of Iowa's Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. These program graduates put skills learned at these institutions into practice for private companies.

Iowa's competitive assets build a strong case for businesses. But just as important as the state's low cost of doing business, fair regulatory environment and central location is the lifestyle your employees can achieve in Iowa. From affordable and vibrant urban cities to thriving and quaint main streets, Iowans enjoy outstanding public schools, affordable housing and lower utility and grocery bills. Plus, our 20-minute average commute gets you home in time to coach soccer, take an outdoor yoga class by the river or volunteer for your favorite charity.

Are you ready to work with a state government that values innovation, collaborates with industry and works to create communities where people actually want to live? If so, it's time to give me a call and get to work.

— By Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad

Editor's note: This commentary was written before the release of the Top States 2016 data. The governor did not have knowledge of the rankings or the comprehensive data.