The July edition of Site Selection Magazine gave national notice to Iowa's "Year of Manufacturing" initiative. The article, entitled "How to make $3 billion," describes Iowa's belief in the importance of advanced manufacturing and provides details of how industry and governmental leaders (including CIRAS) are working to improve it.
Every so often, CIRAS likes to take a moment and tall you a little bit about the people who make Iowa businesses better: Max Droste runs manufacturing at Schumacher, a maker of farm equipment, and he’d like to see industry and education work together.
Our mission here at CIRAS is to enhance the performance of industry in Iowa through applied research, education, and technical assistance. We can't do that in a vacuum, so we put a lot of effort into understanding what Iowa manufacturers need to help them compete globally.
For one Iowa restaurant and catering business, the recipe for success so far has included a side of government contracts. B Fabulous BBQ in Slater has cooked up nearly $100,000 in business from public-sector clients over the last two years, said Deanna Faubus, who owns the company with her husband, Billy. “For a small joint like us, that’s a significant amount of sales.”
CIRAS government contracting specialists know a lot about Iowa businesses, so we’re offering these few questions and answers to help you learn a little more about them:
The government must keep going, in good times and in bad. Many small businesses that are involved in government contracting have learned that this stability means federal, state, and local government agencies can be a tremendous and steady source of income. And it’s a market that exists for more than just major-league defense contractors. Small business owners are sometimes astonished when they realize they are capable of supplying a product or service that the government needs.
Earlier this year, Deere & Co. announced the $4.88 billion purchase of Wirtgen Group, a German company that makes construction equipment used in building roads. Analysts touted it at the time as something that would help the farm machinery manufacturer diversify and ease its dependence on agriculture. Why is this important? Because it illustrates the realities of growing a business: there are only two real paths to do it in a lasting way—creating new products and/or finding new markets.
An Iowa manufacturer of wheelchair wheels and caster forks has begun selling stronger and lighter versions of those products—thanks partly to CIRAS’ help in testing and refining what the company describes as “the world’s first carbon fiber wheel set.” Ottumwa-based Frog Legs Inc., which has sold aluminum wheelchair wheels and suspensions since 1997, began selling a new carbon fiber version of its products earlier this year.
Every so often, CIRAS likes to take a moment and tell you a little bit about the people who make Iowa businesses better: Freda Sojka was already retired when she turned her Columbus Junction candle shop into a popular maker of all-natural bug repellent. Here’s what’s buzzing through her mind:
CIRAS' next Iowa Vendor Conference is scheduled for Thursday, August 10 in Des Moines. Wondering whether it's worth your time? Don't just take our word for it. Here are some of the reviews from business leaders who attended last year's conference: