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Iowa’s economy benefits from ag’s water quality work

Iowa’s economy benefits from ag’s water quality work

Iowa got a dose of good economic news last week when Apple, the iPhone maker and the world’s most valuable company, announced plans to build a data center in the state. Apple CEO Tim Cook made the trip to Des Moines himself to announce the new investment.

Apple joins other tech giants — Microsoft, Google and Facebook — that have already committed to building data centers in Iowa. The tech companies, the experts say, are flocking to build their data centers in Iowa for several reasons: the state has lots of land, isn’t prone to devastating natural disasters (i.e., earthquakes) and has an abundance of affordable, wind-driven electricity.

The state and local communities are offering financial incentives to lure the data centers. But these are minor compared to the size of the reported size of the investments: $1.375 billion for Apple, $1.5 billion for Facebook, $2.5 billion for Google and $4 billion from Microsoft.

The tech giants seem to like the environment here. Interestingly, that opinion doesn’t at all mesh with the flood of dire predictions I’ve heard from Iowa’s environmental activists over the years.

Economic questions

These activists have honed their skills at twisting statistics, such as the impaired waters list from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, to smear Iowa’s crop and livestock farms. They dismissed farmers’ environmental efforts through the state’s Water Quality Initiative and called for more regulations.

To frighten Iowa urban dwellers, the groups fashioned an economic development argument. They warned that Iowa, without new regulations on farms, risked losing out business investments, potential jobs and overall economic vibrancy.

Funny, it’s not working out that way. The high-tech giants, plus plenty of other businesses, appear pretty eager to put down roots in Iowa’s rich soils.

These are savvy, global companies that can invest anywhere in the world. Because of that, you can bet they considered all kinds of factors, including the environment, when they decided to make a long-term investment in the state.

The high-tech companies, like most other Iowans, can see that Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge to improve water quality, saving soil and reducing their environmental impact. That is helping them give votes of confidence in Iowa, its people and its future.



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