Real estate and wages are affordable in Iowa. About 22% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the 2003 American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau. There are 56 public, private and community colleges in the state.
Iowa is located in the middle of North America with excellent transportation connections. Two major coast-to-coast, border-to-border interstate motorways intersect there. The state is bordered on the east by the Mississippi River and on the west by the Missouri River, providing 491 miles of navigable waterways linking Iowa with the Gulf of Mexico. There are 113 airports, eight with daily commercial services. The telecommunications sector is well developed, with more than 1.4 million mobile phone customers in 2004, up 16% from 2003, according to the Federal Communications Commission. According to the 2004 report of the Iowa Utilities Board, 73% of Iowa communities have access to DSL or other high-speed internet access.
Housing is affordable. There are 116 hospitals, many belonging to two main healthcare systems. The public school districts are ranked in the Best Overall Metro School Districts category for Expansion Management magazine’s 2004 Education Quotient ranking.
Overall, Iowa is a land overflowing with hospitality, significant historic sites, sophisticated cities, beautiful rolling countryside and four seasons of nature at its best.
CITY OF THE FUTURE: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Known as the “Windy City”, Chicago, in America’s heartland state of Illinois, has a dynamic economy. In 2003, the metropolitan area’s GMP was $366bn, more than that of Switzerland, Taiwan or the entire US state of Michigan. Its real, inflation-adjusted growth was 32.8% from 1990 to 2000; 0.9% during the 2000-2002 recession; and 2.5% from 2002 to 2003, the latest figures available.
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Chicago-based corporate headquarters increased from 81 to 98, second only to New York. During the decade, 476,600 new private sector jobs were created. Rating agency Moody’s ranked Chicago as the most diversified economy in the US, with strengths demonstrated across all industrial sectors with no over-reliance on any one sector.
About 1600 foreign-owned businesses from 56 countries call Chicago home, employing more than 200,000 people.
Among last year’s major deals were a world headquarters for BP, headquarters for Astellas Pharma and a $1.82bn, 99-year lease of the City of Chicago-owned Chicago Skyway toll road to investment consortium Macquarie Bank of Australia and Cintra of Spain, the first of its kind in the US.
Chicago ranks third among the 10 most populous US cities in percentage of residents with higher degrees. There are 98 higher education institutions in the area, enrolling 487,000 students. A diverse selection of urban, ethnic, suburban and ex-urban living environments is available in the metropolitan area. Chicago provides world-class care and research in the most concentrated group of medical research centres in the US.
The city’s geographic position has historically led to Chicago becoming a transportation hub. O’Hare International Airport is the world’s second busiest. Chicago is also the world’s largest intermodal container nexus and the only gateway exchange point for all six of North America’s Class 1 railroads.
Chicagoans are wired for telecommunications: the city is the North American hub of fibre-optic telecoms, the most advanced telecoms system in the world. The city’s population is diverse with 26 ethnic groups. Recreational facilities include 70 museums, 29 miles of shoreline, the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera and Joffrey Ballet, six major league sports franchises, 14,000 restaurants and more.