Guest Blogger: From Cornfields to Data Centers the Growth of Technology in Iowa

Guest Post Courtesy of Vicki A. Campos-Dimmer of Iowa Network Services

When people think about companies like Google®, Facebook® and Microsoft® they’re more than likely to envision California than Iowa. But, with new investments by Google, Facebook and most recently Microsoft it looks like things may be changing.


Google, one of the first to recognize what Iowa has to offer, invested $1.5 billion in its Council Bluffs Southlands location since opening in 2009. Facebook announced in 2013 its plans to build a $300 million data center in Altoona. Not to be left out, Microsoft1, which already has a data center located in West Des Moines, announced earlier this week its plans to build a 1.2 million square-foot, $1.1 billion data center just south of Des Moines.

Have these technology giants found their data center heaven? No, it’s just Iowa! According to a recent article from USAToday2, the major draws to this great state of ours are a combination of clean, renewable energy (wind energy), developable land (farmland galore), and access to high-speed fiber (shameless plug for Iowa Network Services). We also boast a strong workforce and have built some pretty robust incentive packages, including sales- and use-tax exemptions, to entice companies to move their operations to Iowa.

It will certainly be interesting to see the effects the technology trifecta has on the growth of the technology industry in Iowa. With all Iowa has to offer, it makes me wonder who will be next to make the move from “Silicon Valley” to “Silicon Prairie”. To paraphrase a quote from the movie Field of Dreams3, (celebrating its 25th anniversary) — if we build it, will they come?

About the Author

Vicki Campos-Dimmer is the Corporate Communications Coordinator at Iowa Network Services. Over her 15+ years in marketing, she has developed her expertise in marketing communications, media and public relations, social media management, event and trade show planning, and marketing campaign development. She has primarily worked in technology and telecommunications, but also has experience in the financial and insurance industries. For more information about the above article, contact Vicki Campos-Dimmer at 515-830-0302 or email


1 Matthew Patane,, April 18, 2014. Updated: State approves incentives for $1.1 billion Microsoft data center in West Des Moines.

2 Donnelle Eller and Marco Santana,, April 22, 2014. Tech giants look to Iowa for data centers.

3 Field of Dreams Movie Site –

Successful Farming Highlights Technology in Farming

Check out this great video from Successful Farming that highlights the role of technology in farming. It features Craig Steen of Clear2there and Joe Hossle, an Iowa farmer. Both individuals participated in an Iowa LinkedUp Smart Farm demonstration this past August to showcase the remote monitoring technology.



Smart-farm technology is made possible by local, Independent Telecommunications Companies that have been extending fiber-optic cable into rural areas across Iowa including to cell towers of wireless service providers, increasing access to reliable and affordable broadband service.

INS’ Blog Highlights How Cool Rural Can Be

Vicki Campos-Dimmer with Iowa Network Services (INS) recently wrote a blog that highlights how rural communities are being looked at a little differently and the role of telecommunications companies in changing that perception. She highlights a couple of specific examples in her blog.

Iowa LinkedUp is focused on raising awareness of the impact that independent telecommunications companies in Iowa have had on economic development and how important it is for these two industries to work together to contribute to our communities’ continued growth.

Here is Campos-Dimmer’s blog post. You can view the original here.

“Contrary to common misconceptions, rural is not only cool but it’s smart, cutting edge, innovative and futuristic!  

Did you know? Many local rural telecommunications companies boast broadband speeds which are faster than in many metropolitan areas. They also work together and build lasting relationships with local city officials, business leaders and civic groups to position their community for future growth and opportunity. This is exactly the premise of the NTCA’s Smart Rural Community (SRC) initiative.

I recently attended a webinar which showcased two of the NTCA’s 2013 SRC winners, Big Bend Telephone Company (Big Ben) of Alpine, Texas and West Central Telephone Association (WCTA) of Sebeka, Minn. Both gave an overview of the tactics they’re employing in their respective communities to become known as a Smart Rural Community.

Focus on the Community
They quickly determined that having the network was not enough to bring in customers. They took a good look at their existing customer base and actually expanded it to include everyone who touched the network; whether they were part of the community or just passing through. Now, they continually look at how customers are using their networks to identify opportunities where they can improve their services to exceed expectations.

Collaboration is Key
Another important aspect to their successes is the importance they place on building relationships with city officials and key business and community leaders. They regularly schedule meetings to discuss any pain points, upcoming projects and needs of the community. As a collaborative group, they work together to be proactive so they best meet the needs of the industries in their community.

Educate and Inform the Community
Big Ben and WCTA do an excellent job of investing in their communities. Both provide free WiFi to recreational parks and resources, schools, and other public arenas in and around their communities. They continually advertise and promote their efforts through traditional media, social media (yes, both regularly use Facebook®, Twitter®, and other social media venues), websites, cross promotion and more! They focus on educating their community about the benefits they provide and how it differentiates them from metropolitan areas. They want their customers to know they aren’t missing anything in rural America.

They’re actually getting more!
As urban growth continues to sprawl outward, it’s not always clear where urban ends and rural begins. Regardless, many communities continue to be served by a local telecommunications company whose main goals are to be a Smart Rural Community and make rural cool! For more information about the Smart Rural Community initiative, visit”

Thank you to everyone who participated in Iowa LinkedUp Forum!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Iowa LinkedUp and Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance forum last week. Our incredible lineup of speakers helped highlight just how important the role of telecommunications is for economic development. Businesses and consumers are coming to expect that they will have fast and reliable broadband options. In order to ensure that Iowa is prepared to meet these expectations, broadband connectivity needs to remain a continued focus.

A special thank you to all of our speakers for their time and insight:

  • Steve Collier, Vice President of Business Development of Milsoft Utility Solutions
  • Will Walling, Market Expansion/Business Development Manager of Iowa Network Services
  • Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds
  • Lucas Palmer, General Affairs Manager of CJ BioAmerica Inc.
  • Craig Steen, President and CEO of Clear2there
  • Greg Hinz, General Manager of Frontier Communications
  • Marcie Boerner, Office Manager of Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association
  • Dave Grosland, Vice President of Academic Affairs with Iowa Central Community College



Educate Legislators About Important Issues Impacting Consumers In Upcoming Session

The 2014 legislative session promises to be a busy one for telecommunications issues. The stakes are high for consumers as modernization of telecommunications policy and connecting Iowans with reliable broadband will be key topics in the upcoming session.

Ensuring quality of voice service for consumers will be discussed as part of the telecom modernization legislation that will likely be considered by lawmakers. The Iowa Utilities Board will propose legislation based on its recent Notice of Inquiry process where it examined the needs for updating telecommunications laws, rules and regulations.  Maintaining a quality level of service and consumer protection will be important considerations as this legislation evolves.  Additionally, the Legislature may consider recommendations to better connect unserved and underserved Iowans with broadband service based on recommendations from the Governor’s STEM Broadband Advisory Committee. The work of this committee is a key part of Governor Branstad’s “Connect Every Iowan” initiative.

Industry leaders and consumers should be engaged in these debates in the coming year. Maintaining quality of service and extending service will create “wins” for Iowa consumers. By using this link, you can find contact information for your legislators. Contact them and ask them about their positions on these issues.  If they are not aware of these issues, educate them by letting them know the importance and value behind quality voice service standards and the availability of broadband in your community to enhance economic development.