Spirit Lake, Iowa — Enjoying the Ride

Looking for a little American muscle? You can find it in Victory Motorcycle assembled in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Polaris Industries, one of the leading manufacturers of snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles, took to the highways in 1998 by introducing  the V92C. It was the second largest motorcycle engine at the time and put Victory in competition with Harley-Davidson and other manufacturers in the U.S.

The plant currently assembles nine different Victory models including baggers, touring and cruiser bikes. The company also supports the Victory Motorcycle Club which holds events and rallies for Victory owners. The club boasts more than 90 chapters around the world.

Polaris, which also revived  the iconic Indian brand motorcycles in 2013, announced in August it will be creating 300 new jobs in Spirit Lake to assemble the new Indian Scout. The Spirit Lake plant, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, currently employs approximately 700 people.

Winnebago One of Fastest-growing U.S. Companies

Take a road trip anywhere in the nation this fall and it’s likely you pass several Winnebago and Itasca motor homes. The Forest City, Iowa-built RVs are staging an impressive comeback. Fortune magazine this month placed Winnebago Industries on its list of the fastest growing companies in America.

Ranked 56th on Fortune’s list, the company has seen sales quadruple since 2009 to more than $884 million in the most recent four quarters. The company’s most recent quarterly report said motor home sales increased 17.6 percent from the same period a year ago. Not to mention the positive impact on Iowa’s employment numbers; this company employs nearly 2,500 people at its Forest City campus.

And Winnebago is getting help from a powerful tailwind. The 76 million-strong Baby Boom generation is rapidly moving into its retirement age – the prime age for RV purchases.  The company also is introducing the 2015 Brave, a retro-styled, vividly colored motor home outfitted with the most up-to-date entertainment and comfort features.

Ready to hit the road?

Japanese and Midwestern Leaders Wrap Up Successful Meeting in Iowa

Midwest and Japanese business leaders and government officials reaffirmed their commitment to vitalization of bilateral trade and investment as they wrapped up the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan and Japan-Midwest U.S. Associations’ meeting in Des Moines.

“Technological and management innovations are the keys for companies to build a robust and sustainable future,” U.S. Conference Chairman and former Illinois Gov. James Thompson said in announcing the conference’s closing statement.

The conference was an outstanding opportunity to showcase Iowa’s attractive business climate. “Presentations highlighted efforts where epoch-making innovations are helping to create new businesses and industries. The conference also emphasized the importance of collaborations between companies or among industry, government and academia. At the same time, it was pointed out that it is crucial to foster an environment where companies can trigger competition based on fair and transparent rules by promoting deregulation and free trade.”

Panel discussions focused on three areas including Innovation for Long-term Success, Renewable Energy and Environmental Solutions, and Contributing to a Healthy Future“Presenters shared innovative approaches toward renewable technologies and environmental solutions were discussed, In particular, the focus was on energy-saving methods, next generation batteries, new and renewable energies including hydrogen energy, and environmental solutions,” the associations’ joint statement said. “Additionally, discussions were undertaken on the importance of healthy eating, healthcare innovations as well as insurance to mitigate medical and nursing care expenses.”

“This conference has proven to be a platform for robust exchange. It is my sincere hope that this conference will continue to serve as a catalyst for our strong momentum,” added Kazuyuki Katayama, Consul General of Japan in Detroit.

The Midwest U.S. region was represented by Governors Terry Branstad of Iowa, Dave Heineman of Nebraska, Jay Nixon of Missouri, Mike Pence of Indiana, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. The Midwestern delegation also featured organizations and companies headquartered or holding significant operations in Iowa, including Firestone Agricultural Tires (a Bridgestone Company), Rockwell Collins, Ajinomoto, Iowa State University, Vermeer Corporation, Danfoss, MidAmerican Energy, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, The University of Iowa, Wellmark and Kemin Industries.

The Japanese delegation included Saitama Governor Kiyoshi Ueda, Yamanashi Governor Shomei Yokouchi, H.E. Kenichiro Sasae, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Consul-Generals of Japan Masaharu Yoshida (Chicago) and Katayama as well as representatives from Toshiba, Nippon Sharyo, ANA (All Nippon Airways), JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization), Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), Toyota, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Kikkoman Corporation. Approximately 320 participants attended this 46th annual joint meeting of the Midwestern and Japanese associations. Next year’s meeting will be held September 13-15 in Tokyo.