Middle Bit: Ranking the best cities in Iowa by their local economy

New data released earlier this month suggests that communities and cities across the country with research universities and a low cost of living tend to have stronger economies and can attract more tech jobs to the region.

The Milken Institute—a California-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank—released its annual list of, “Best performing cities” in the United States with the strongest economies. The list is broken down into “big cities” and “small cities.”

Iowa cities on the large city list were:

  • Des Moines/West Des Moines was ranked 56th among large cities, improving six spots from 2016
  • Cedar Rapids was ranked 158th, dropping 25 spots from 2016
  • Davenport/Quad Cities was ranked 194, dropping two spots from 2016

Among the small cities:

  • Ames was ranked 33rd among small cities, dropping 22 spots from 2016
  • Iowa City was ranked 47th among small cities, dropping three spots from 2016
  • Sioux City was ranked 100, improving six spots from 2016
  • Dubuque was ranked 149, dropping 89 spots from 2016
  • Waterloo/Cedar Falls 185, dropping 26 spots from 2016

Metropolitan areas across the country were judged based on nine metrics, including job creation, wage gains and technology developments to evaluate the relative growth of the area.

Cities that performed better in 2017 not only featured a variety of tech industries, they are able to support tech companies at different points in their lifecycle. For example, the top ranking big city in 2017 was Provo, Utah.

According to the report, the reason Provo earned the top spot was due to adding 5,500 high tech jobs in the last five years and calls attention to Brigham Young University as not only a major source of employment but a pipeline of skilled talent for the workforce.

“The university fosters an entrepreneurial culture, offering attractive incentives for faculty to commercialize research,” the report says.

VentureBeat reported that companies over 670 companies from Brigham Young University have secured over $1.3 billion in funding.

The top ranking small city was Bend, OR.

To view the data and the full report, click here.

Truck hailing company Bungii raises $3 million in K.C

Kansas City-based Bungii—who created an app to connect users with area truck drivers to haul items—completed a $3 million Series A round, according to a story Thursday in StartlandNews.com.

According to the story, Bungii originally targeted $2 million and will use the funding towards a national expansion. Kansas City-based PerceptiveEquity, C2FO CEO Sandy Kemper and other private investors raised the fund.

The platform is currently in the midst of rolling out in Atlanta.

What else happened…


Head of the Iowa Communications Network fired – The Des Moines Register


Top Kansas City startups to watch in 2018 – StartlandNews.com

Rent the Runway CEO taps St. Louis for its garment district – EQstl.com

Lewis & Clark Ventures on investing $100 million in the Heartland – EQstl.com

Kansas City not among finalists for HQ2 – StartlandNews.com


Virtual Incision completes $18 million Series B round – SPN


Twin Cities don’t make the cut for Amazon HQ2 – StarTribune

Why losing the Amazon bid may not be bad for Twin Cities – TCBmag.com


Columbus makes first cut for Amazon HQ2 – Dispatch.com

The ‘Middle Bit’ is bits of news from around the other tech, startup and art communities in the Midwest.