IOWA GOVERNOR: Innovation supports Iowa jobs, economy

By Iowa Governor Terry Branstad
(Originally appeared in The Gazette)

When I run into people from different parts of the country, they are often surprised to learn how innovative and industrious Iowans are as a people. As your governor, one of my most important roles is to be our state’s chief promoter, educating companies on the benefits Iowa has to offer and encouraging them to set up shop here in our state.

Iowa is blessed to play an integral role in our nation’s economy, cultivating some of the richest farmland on Earth and acting as one of America’s most treasured bread baskets. Not only that, Iowa is also a beacon for cutting-edge technology, helping to shape the information economy of the future.

Our state is known around the world for our endless corn and bean fields, and pigs and cows. Iowa is more than just pigs and produce, we have a lot more.

A recent study conducted by the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that Iowa ranks No. 4 in the nation in the number of jobs supported by intellectual property.

Of Iowa’s $13.2 billion in annual exports, IP-intensive industries constitute $9.2 billion, close to 70 percent of all our exports, creating 94,191 jobs. IP-related goods and services create $56.4 billion in economic output, half of our state’s gross domestic product.

Intellectual property supports a total of 663,243 jobs in Iowa, nearly half of Iowa’s private sector work force. Moreover, IP-intensive businesses pay Iowans an average of 31 percent more than non-IP businesses: $43,960 per average IP wage vs. $33,488 per average private-sector employee.

In the marketplace of the 21st century, ideas will be the common rate of exchange. The final barometer of economic success won’t come solely from pure industrial might or even from globally integrated supply chains.

Rather, economic winners and losers will ultimately be determined by one simple test: innovation. Companies will either innovate, with simpler, faster, cheaper, more dependable products and services, or consumers will relegate them to the dustbins of history.

Together, we must ensure that Iowa continues to be a leader in innovation. In order to protect Iowans doing business around the globe, encourage investment right here at home and entice foreign companies to relocate, it is imperative that we protect the intellectual property rights of both consumers and businesses.

How do we do that?

First, education is key. We must educate policymakers at the state and federal level of the innovative value IP has on the global economy.

Second, we must ensure that international organizations include viable IP enforcement regimes so Iowa businesses maintain the freedom to innovate while simultaneously protecting their products.

Finally, we must strengthen the enforcement mechanisms of IP rights here in the United States and across the globe.

Iowa is a great place. As a people, we set the standard for creativity, hospitality and industriousness. I am honored to be your governor, and will do everything in my power to help attract new, high-tech companies to Iowa. If we all work together, we can turn our fields of plenty into the fields of innovation.

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