If 2021 was the year of recovery for Iowa’s economy, 2022 is the year of possibility.
Iowa is in a remarkable economic position, thanks to years of fiscal responsibility and the spirit of innovation we’ve seen throughout the pandemic – from mom-and-pop businesses to large companies, from our communities to the state Capitol.
Our GDP is well above pre-pandemic levels. The state has a budget surplus of well over a billion dollars. Our economic development pipeline is full of projects, and Iowa has emerged as the insurance capital of the United States. Our hospitality and tourism industry is making a strong comeback. We’ve seen a surge in startups like never before, with more new businesses in 2021 than any other year in state history.
There are roadblocks, of course, with inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and a workforce shortage. These challenges are not unique to Iowa, but our state is in a better position than most: We’ve enjoyed the fastest economic recovery through the pandemic. And we have worked aggressively for some time to fuel growth.
In the past year alone, we saw significant state investments in housing, water quality, childcare, broadband, and other infrastructure that is critical to Iowa’s future. We are creating conditions for manufacturers of all sizes to prosper amid a technology revolution and churn in the workforce.
We’re also building communities where people want to live. I see transformational quality-of-life projects everywhere I go, from Iowa’s thousands of miles of paved trails to beautiful public art displays, historical landmarks, and our unique downtowns and Main Streets. Iowa’s communities understand placemaking plays a key role in attracting visitors and residents, and I’m confident we’ll see even more momentum this year. I’m also optimistic that Iowa will work to provide a competitive tax system that meets the priorities of the state and allows Iowans, communities and businesses to thrive.
We have such a strong value proposition here in Iowa. It’s no wonder U.S. News & World Report ranked Iowa #1 in the nation for opportunity. This is a credit to our leadership, spirit of innovation, and teamwork to make Iowa the best place to visit, live, work and do business.
Debi Durham is Executive Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority.