About the AREA.

The business climate in Boone, Hamilton, and Story counties, as well as the state of Iowa, has never been more favorable.

Companies operating here benefit from a business-friendly state government, technology transfer from world-renowned research institutions, a skilled and productive workforce, and a centralized geographic location.  

AREA of Excellence Innovation Opportunity

Iowa State University

Iowa State University is a student-centric leading research university with a comprehensive land-grant mission of education, innovation, extension and outreach that benefits Iowans and the world. Innovate at Iowa State reflects the university’s national leadership for providing innovative and entrepreneurial opportunities for all students. Iowa State enrolls 30,000 students and employs more than 6,000 faculty and staff.

Iowa State Research Park is one of Iowa’s most valuable economic development assets. It is a statewide economic driver of: commercialization, job creation, entrepreneurial activity, and robust talent pipeline.

The Center for Industrial Research and Service was created in 1963 to improve the quality of life in Iowa by helping businesses and their communities prosper and grow. Our individually tailored strategy Engage. Educate. Embed. means we work with companies to fashion solutions specific to their individual needs.Over the past five years, CIRAS and our partners have helped more than 4,600 businesses in every Iowa county, creating an economic impact of more than $3.1 billion. 

The Iowa State University (ISU) SBDC center located in Ames currently serves four counties – Boone, Hardin, Marshall, and Story – and was one of the first four centers established when the SBDC expanded its service statewide in 1982. Since then, the center has provided several thousand Iowa business owners or prospective owners with business assistance in areas such as business and strategic planning, general management, sources of capital, cost control, financial analysis, international trade, accounting, marketing, and much more.

The Office of Innovation Commercialization (OIC) includes the Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (OIPTT) and the Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc. (ISURF), reporting to the Vice President for Economic Development, work in concert to facilitate and enhance the inventive and creative works of Iowa State University’s employees and students, and to transfer these works for the benefit of society. Additionally, under Iowa State University’s contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, ISURF manages intellectual property protection and licensing for the Ames Laboratory.

Since 1996, we’ve been helping entrepreneurs across the state succeed, including Iowa State students, faculty, and alumni along with Iowan innovators and business owners. From our entrepreneurship-focused programs like CYstarters, to friendly competitions like our College-by-College Pitch Off, to resources like our ISU Startup Factory incubator and more, here you can find tools and support to help you engage your inner innovator. And since we’re part of Iowa State’s Start Something Network, you can be confident that you’ll always have access to the latest in innovation opportunities.

Workforce Solutions

The Ames Regional Economic Alliance contributes to the economic security of the area’s workers, businesses, and community through a wide range of workforce solutions. Learn more about the area’s job board, workforce training and internship programs, and specific K-12 engagement opportunities. 

Map of midwest interstates and distance of large city from Ames

Infrastructure and Logistics

The Ames, Iowa region is in the center of the country and the heart of Iowa. The three-county area is located at the crossroads of two major roadways, on the Union Pacific mainline, and 35 miles from the Des Moines International Airport.

Offering direct access to Interstate 35, and 4-lane highways US-20 and US-30.

  • 25 Miles to Interstate 80
  • Reasonable travel time to many major mid-west markets

Served by the Union Pacific and Canadian National railroads.

  • The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad is Class 3 railroad serving local industries and interchanging with the Union Pacific Railroad.
  • The Union Pacific and Canadian National railroads assist companies with rail development and transportation needs.

Power and gas providers throughout the region serve companies with industrial scale utility services.

  • Industrial-scale electricity needs provided Alliant Energy, municipal power providers, and rural coops
  • Natural gas infrastructure provided by Alliant Energy and Black Hills Energy

Iowa offers abundant water resources to serve the needs of large commercial and industrial clients.

  • Surface and subterranean water sources provide ample capacities for heavy users
  • Municipalities provide water and wastewater treatment for projects located in their jurisdiction
  • Iowa DNR is industry-focused and offers a path for direct discharge of treated wastewater into surface waters

The region is served by international, regional, and municipal airports.

  • Des Moines International Airport (DSM), located 35 miles from the region, offers direct flights to many of the most popular markets.
  • Ames (KAMW) and Webster City (KEBS) Municipal Airports offer direct access to the region with services for civil and private aircraft.

Major Employers

The Ames region boasts a diverse collection of employers from Iowa State University to Target Stores and from Mary Greeley Medical Center to First National Bank.