Published April 21, 2014 by the Ames Tribune

The Capital Corridor, the area around Ames and Des Moines, will be marketed as the Cultivation Corridor under a new brand announced Monday during a ceremony in Des Moines.

The Capital Corridor, the area around Ames and Des Moines, will be marketed as the Cultivation Corridor under a new brand announced Monday during a ceremony in Des Moines.

It’s part of the larger Capital Crossroads vision, and will focus on the development of the agriculture biosciences industry in an area that reaches as far south as Indianola and as far north as Story City, and from Winterset to Grinnell. While the effort will cover much of central Iowa and the state, it will be based in Ames at the Iowa State University Research Park.

The brand was chosen in hopes it would eventually place central Iowa on the map the way Silicon Valley has in California and the Research Triangle in North Carolina.

It was announced during a ceremony at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, which was attended by Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Cultivation Corridor co-chairman Steve Zumbach, a Des Moines attorney, and Iowa State University President Steven Leath.

“All of the pieces are in the right place for success,” Leath said in a news release issued following the ceremony. “This positions our region as a premier economic development corridor, allowing us to fully leverage our world-class science and agricultural expertise.”

The newly minted brand comes with the tag line: “The science that feeds the world.”

Branstad said in the release that the newly branded corridor will have “broad, positive economic implications for all of Iowa.

“We welcome this as a way to continue keeping Iowa as a premiere place to locate,” Branstad said.

The primary goals of the Cultivation Corridor are to attract and retain top talent in the ag bioscience sector in the region, maximize the affect of local economic development efforts and expand job creation in the ag bioscience sector, and create a positive ripple effect across Iowa that captures and promotes its assets, the release said.

Brent Willett became the Cultivation Corridor’s executive director last week.

Willett, a Davenport native, previously served as the president and CEO of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation, which represents cities in North Central Iowa, such as Mason City and Clear Lake. He also is involved in a number of business and economic development organizations, including the Iowa Chamber Alliance, the Iowa Association of Business &Industry’s Economic Growth Committee, the Leadership Iowa Board of Governors, the Mason City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

The Capital Crossroads Campaign is a five-year regional plan with nearly 5,000 community members and business leaders, 500 of whom have volunteered to lead the plan to achieve short-term and long-term economic growth in central Iowa. The Cultivation Corridor is one part of the larger plan.

Monday’s announcement was the culmination of the months-long phase of community and business leaders working with a marketing firm to develop a moniker that would distinguish the focus of economic development efforts that were decided upon earlier last year.

“The notion that agriculture can be the focal point of a very aggressive economic development agenda makes so much darn sense,” said Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce. “With the immense infrastructure at ISU and the private infrastructure of a whole host of companies in the region … it augments and pulls together all these different players under one brand to talk with one voice.”

He said it’s not just a economic development program, but also a positioning statement to recruit talent and students to the area.

“This will elevate Iowa and this corridor that if you are going to get a job in the agriculture and bioscience sector you will think of the Cultivation Corridor, and if you are thinking about an education in agriculture and biosciences, you think of Iowa State University.”

He said basing the Cultivation Corridor’s office at the ISU Research Park makes sense because of the park’s relationship with and proximity to the university.

Willett will be housed at the Ames Chamber of Commerce Office on Main Street until office space is complete at the research park, Culhane said.