The year 2018 will go down as an incredible year of growth in Ames and Story County. Last week, we had a joint meeting of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission boards to cap the year and celebrate our successes. During that meeting, I mentioned a number of highlights from the year that alone are impressive, but combined are outstanding.
Our workforce development program was recently recognized by the Mid-America Economic Development Council (Mid-America EDC) as a finalist in the large division (community population over 50,000) of the Workforce Development category. This award recognized activities and innovative programs to attract new workforce to an area, strengthen the skills of your existing workforce or encourage retention of youth in an area.
Our workforce development program features collaborations with employers and schools and a Story County job board, WorkInAmes.com. Our efforts to recruit and retain talent in Ames and Story County may be one of the most important things we do, given our current environment.
Earlier this year, we entered into a contract to provide economic development services for Nevada. This has already proven to be a successful venture, with several exciting announcements being made including the Mid-States Companies expansion, Verbio purchasing the DuPont plant and a major expansion from Burke/Hormel.
In addition to Nevada’s wins, projects in Ames, Story City and Huxley highlight the year. From startups such as SmartAg and automed, to legacy companies including 3M and MH Eby Trailers, the growth and development we witnessed in 2018 totaled $200 million in pledged capital investment and 350 new jobs. Outstanding.
In 2018, we also launched a new hashtag on social media. #StoryGrows was launched during Economic Development Week and was used throughout the year to call attention to projects and growth in Story County. In October, we celebrated Manufacturing Day with a visit from Gov. Kim Reynolds, who came to Story County to visit some of our local manufacturers.
Ames and Story County continue to receive top rankings nationally against our peers. We were named Home of the Best US Metro Job Market (CNBC, 2018), No. 1 — “The Top 10 Cities for Career Opportunities in 2018” (SmartAsset, 2018) and No. 1 — “Best Cities for Working Parents” (SmartAsset, 2018).
Events that bring our community together were a priority for us in 2018, and you will see more of the same in 2019. The first symposium on Building Inclusive Organizations was held in October and is helping to continue the conversation of creating a more inclusive and welcoming community.
The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market continues to thrive and win accolades, and the first Farm to Table dinner was a spectacular evening celebrating the bounties of our local growers. Foodies & Brew was held in the new hangar at the Ames Airport, which was a fantastic way to showcase a major project we undertook to utilize and highlight the incredible infrastructure we have in our community.
Thanks to the Ames and Story County community for an incredible year of projects, programs and events. Here is to a spectacular 2019 — we can’t wait to get started.