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 Mariposa Farms Sprouting New Levels of Manufacturing Expertise

Success sort of snuck up on Dave and Denise Conkling. Their business sprouted and grew, until one day it seemed to have grown beyond their control.

“We started really small, and we just managed everything ourselves,” said Dave Conkling, owner of Mariposa Farms. “We were looking at the business one way, because we had this 20-something years of experience. When CIRAS came in, they could look through different eyes, and it became clear to them what we needed to do.”

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ICYMI: Site Selection Magazine notices CIRAS & Iowa’s ‘Year of Manufacturing’

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.

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CIRAS Helps Frog Legs Smoothly Transition to Carbon Fiber Wheelchair Wheels

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.

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State of the State: Looking for Clues to Competitiveness in Iowa’s Manufacturing Wages

Wage levels both reflect and influence the competitiveness of Iowa’s manufacturing sector. The average manufacturing worker in Iowa earned $42,470 in 2015, about 86 percent of the national average. Accounting for Iowa’s lower cost of living improves the picture, boosting the state’s pay on a price parity basis to 95 percent of the U.S. average.

The pay differential* for Iowa’s manufacturing workers varies by the type of work they perform. Iowa’s average production worker, for example, earns 104 percent of the average U.S. production worker’s wage. Iowa‘s engineering-related workers average just 90 cents for every dollar earned by their national peers.

This article demonstrates how closer attention to wage distributions might inform the state’s innovation and workforce attraction/retention efforts. For our example, we classify Iowa and U.S. manufacturing jobs along two dimensions: occupation and inferred skill or experience level. Nine occupational groups are considered, which together account for 95 percent of all manufacturing jobs.

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Iowa Program Helps Companies Afford Some Added Expertise—By Adding Interns

Interns at ALMACO get much more than an overview of the company’s custom-built agricultural equipment. They become part of the team.

Brian Carr, ALMACO’s vice president of engineering, said student employees at the Nevada-based company get directly involved in completing projects—from initial design, through problem-solving challenges, to the eventual result.

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