Governor Reynolds, IEDA announce manufacturing roadmap for Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds, along with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the Iowa Innovation Council, last week released the state’s Manufacturing 4.0 plan, a 120-page report commissioned by IEDA and prepared by TEConomy Partners.

The new report, Seizing the Manufacturing 4.0 Opportunity: A Strategic Plan for Iowa’s Manufacturing Industry, lays out a roadmap to help Iowa manufacturers remain globally competitive through a fourth industrial revolution that emphasizes automation and smart technology. 

The report comes after IEDA formed an industry-led Manufacturing 4.0 initiative in 2020 with the goal of creating a strategic plan to take on the Industry 4.0 challenges of adopting technology, increasing productivity, competing for talent and ongoing globalization. The fourth industrial revolution—or Industry 4.0—includes the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, augmented reality, cybersecurity and more. These digital technologies may not replace jobs, but they will transform how work is performed, including how products are designed, fabricated, consumed and serviced.

According to the report, 226,000 Iowans work in more than 4,100 manufacturing establishments across the state. These thousands of workers and the products they manufacture make up $30 billion (17%) of Iowa’s GDP.

“Iowa’s ability to compete globally will hinge on its successful transition to new operating models, especially for small-to-medium-sized manufacturers who will face mounting pressure from the larger manufacturers they supply,” read the report.

The Manufacturing 4.0 plan includes five strategic priorities:

  • Adopting and utilizing Manufacturing 4.0 technology
  • Enabling Infrastructure for Digital Technologies
  • Improved Supply Chain Linkages
  • Accelerating Manufacturing Startups and Scale-Ups
  • Ensuring an Effectively Trained Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce

“At the core of this first Manufacturing 4.0 strategy is addressing how to “de-risk” significant technology investments and where the public sector and public-private partnerships have roles to play in doing so.”

Some of the issues raised by industry leaders related to adopting new technologies included: significant costs for small and medium-sized businesses, rural broadband infrastructure, a need for staging investments, and keeping up with the rapid rate of tech obsolescence.

The report highlighted several organizational and infrastructure assets within the state for the industry to draw from and partner with. Some examples and highlights included Iowa’s research universities, CIRAS, TechWorks, and Quad Cities Innovation Hub.

To read the Manufacturing 4.0 executive summary and full report, visit iowaeda.com/our-agency/reports/.