NAR Region VIII Local Market Assessments: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota


Although Iowa is among the top states for agricultural productivity, the value of the state's manufactured products is twice that of agriculture. Its central location, integrated transportation services make the state a fast and convenient hub for manufacturing and shipping. Bordered by two rivers, Iowa has 491 miles of navigable waterways and is within 300 miles of Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Louis, among other large metro markets.

In addition, the state's pro-business tax policies, nationally recognized research centers, strong work ethic and low cost of living give Iowa-based businesses a competitive edge with foreign investors seeking a U.S. base of operation.

Pie chart: Top Sources of Foreign Direct Investment in Iowa


Located in the upper U.S. Midwest, Minnesota is an increasingly diverse state due partly to the influx of immigrants—many from Asia. The state is also home to numerous international businesses that employ more than 150,000 Minnesotians. Global entities are attracted to the state's diverse business profile, entrepreneurial spirit, infrastructure, workforce and overall quality of life.

The state's six economic regions cover traditional industries like agriculture and manufacturing and up-and-coming industries like FinTech and renewable energy. Minnesota moved from ninth (in 2022) to fifth in CNBC's 2023 ranking of Top States to Do Business With.

Pie chart: Top Sources of Foreign Direct Investment in Minnesota


Agriculture has been the cornerstone of Nebraska's economy for many decades, accounting for nearly 34% of business sales,
22% of the gross state product and about three-quarters of jobs in the state, according to a report released by the University
of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2020.

A fast-growing manufacturing sector complements the state's strength in agricultural industries. Food processing is one
of the top manufacturing sectors in the state, representing seven of the top ten manufacturing companies. Transportation
is another leading industry. Nebraska is home to several of the nation's leading transportation companies and sits on one of
the busiest rail corridors in North America.

Pie chart: Top Sources of Foreign Direct Investment in Nebraska

North Dakota

While the country's growth rate of 7.4% between 2010 and 2020 was the second slowest in U.S. history, according to the Census Bureau, some regions saw significant growth—including North Dakota, where the population growth for this period was 15.83%, more than double that of the national rate. Although relatively small in absolute numbers, immigrants contributed to the growth rate, with a whopping 179% increase in foreign-born residents between 2000 and 2021, compared to only a 29% increase between 1990 and 2000.

North Dakota's location, hugging the Canadian border, creates business opportunities with our northern neighbor, and the state's 2023 top ranking for business friendliness by CNBC encourages foreign investors worldwide to look at opportunities to locate or expand in the state.

Pie chart: Top Sources of Foreign Direct Investment in North Dakota

South Dakota

Agriculture has historically been the business driver in South Dakota and remains important to the state's economy, especially in rural areas. Ranches and farms cover more than 90% of the state. Other industries have expanded rapidly in recent decades, including the service industry, which is the largest economic contributor in South Dakota. This sector includes the retail, finance and healthcare industries.

Although it is the 17th largest U.S. state, South Dakota is the 5th least populous. Still, it is home to diverse foreign-owned companies across various industries. The state is recognized as one of the friendliest states for businesses with no taxes on personal income, capital gains or corporate income—making it attractive to foreign investors. South Dakota also exports millions in goods each year.

Pie chart: Top Sources of Foreign Direct Investment in South Dakota

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