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The Good Life In Ames, Iowa

Updated on June 29, 2015

A Favorite City of America and the Midwest

Number Six on's list of Top 30 Cities for Jobs in the US, Ames is located in the heart of Central Iowa.

  • Expansion Management Magazine named Ames among its recognized Five-Star Quality of Life Metros.
  • Employment Review magazine ranked Ames as one of its Top 20 Best Places to Live and Work out of 300 cities nominated.
  • In November 2008, BusinessWeek magazine named the city among its Top Three Best Places to Raise Children.

Overall, Ames has ranked high on multiple lists that rate cities on the quality of their environment, economic, education, health care, public safety, recreation and other features.

Revitalized Downtown Area

Somerset Area apartments (public domain).
Somerset Area apartments (public domain).

Ames, Iowa Founding and Success

The City of Ames was built by a land company affiliated with the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad in the mid 19th century in 1864, around the time of the American Civil War. The town was named after a Massachusetts Congressman that traveled to the Midwest in order to help choose railroad sites for stations and other facilities. Today, you will find it north of Des Moines off Highway I-35.

Agriculture, transportation, and freight underlay the local economy until Education and Healthcare emerged to serve the growing town and the surrounding lands of Story County. Through time, these last two fields expanded with local college and university involvement that included new agricultural development techniques as well. Other fields of endeavor emerged and in the 21st century, Ames is also a center for sustainability, politics, nutrition, and many other innovations.

Central Iowa, North of DesMoines

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Largest Employers in Ames, Iowa

  • Iowa State University - see links below.
  • Iowa Department of Transportation
  • Mary Greeley Medical Center
  • McFarland Clinic
  • Sauer-Danfoss - Hydraulic mfg.
  • Ames Community School
  • Ames Laboratories
  • City of Ames - government


Additional Large Employers -- Rated High by Employees as Good Workplaces

  • Baxter International - Healthcare Industry: manufacturer and marketer of medical devices that help patients with various disorders and conditions. Search current job listings at
  • Coca-Cola Enterprises - Soft drink manufacturer and distributor with jobs advertised continually online.
  • Monsanto Company - Agricultural Technology, incorporating and using sustainability. Visit Job Listings at

Top 10 Fast Growing Jobs - Computers, Insurance, and Healthcare

  1. Computer Software Applications Engineers - IT
  2. Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts - IT
  3. Computer Systems Analysts - IT
  4. Financial Services & Insurance
  5. Registered Nurses & Other Practitioners and Techs - Healthcare.
  6. Education - Teachers & Teacher Assistants, K-12 and Postsecondary (college or vocational school level).
  7. Wholesale & Retail workers - includes supervisors
  8. Public Administration & Government workers
  9. Manufacturing & Production jobs
  10. Transportation/Freight & Materials Moving

Find jobs in Ames, Iowa with the search engine application NationJobs for Ames.

During 2014 - 2016, the largest numbers of job listings and forecasts in Ames include: CDL truck drivers and owner operators, insurance jobs, sales jobs, healthcare jobs, assistant professor, lecturer, research associate, and systems biologist.

Higher Education

  • Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU) - A Space Grant school. The Atanasoff-Berry computer, the fist electronic digital computer, was invented at this school. Construction of a new 52,000+ sq ft Research Park was begun in October 2008. The New Seed Science Center opened during the same month.
  • Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC)
  • DMACC Career Academy, Hunziker Center - Technological programs for high school and adult students.
  • William Penn University - Designed for the working adult, the School for Working Adults provides flexibility in degree attainment.


  • ISU Extension for Youth - Science, Engineering, & Technology (E-SET). See the ISU website.
  • Other ISU Extension programs and website materials provide information on a number of practical home and personal topics of great value. These include Diaster Recovery, Money Management, Weight Loss, Power Outages, 4-H, Home and Garden, and dozens of other topics. 

ISU Fashion Show - College of Textiles and Design

Energy and Sustainability

Local institutions of higher learning partner in their research efforts with local businesses like Monsanto and others in order to enhance the success fo sustainability and agricultural in Iowa ans the Midwest region of the nation. Material such as the following are demonstrating the success of and facilitating further development of biofuels in Iowa and other US States with agricultural components in their economies.:

Emerging Biofuels: Outlook of Effects on U.S. Grain, Oilseed, and Livestock Markets by Simla Tokgoz, Amani Elobeid, and Jacinto F. Fabiosa, Iowa State University, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development; 2007.

See a summary and full text fo the article at: Emerging Biofuels.

ISU Aerospace and Sustainability Research

ISU, or Iowa State University of Science & Technology, is a space grant college that began as a land-grant college. It is also the host of the US Department of Agriculture's National Animal Disease Center, as well as a partner in research with the HQ for the Iowa State Department of Transportation. The federal government also operates a nearby Department of Energy Lab.

Because of all this and the presence of the usual state and local governments, governments overall are among the largest employers in the Ames market area.

ISU operates multiple dozens of dedicated research centers, including the Seed Research Center for agricultural studies, and Aerospace Engineering department, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, the Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition, and many others that help to improve sustainability and the overall quality of life, and to create jobs in the community.

Visit the link for ISU in the section above to learn morea about these innovative programs.

ISU Student Hired by NASA

Recreation and Sports

© 2008 Patty Inglish


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    • profile image

      mydulbd 4 years ago

      Grate post,thanks for your information..

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Greetings maven101! -- I agree with you about the $5 million salary for the football coach and hope that he does well and attracts even more people to Amer and students to ISU. President-elect Obama has written an Infratruscture Project for 600+ cities and I will look at these cities as time progresses and track their job growth for recommendations to our Hub Readers. Thanks so much for commenting. If I were starting colelge, I'd go to Ames myself.

      Netters! - Happy New Year! I am glad you enjoy my Hubs as much as I enjoy yours. All the Best!

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 9 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Looks like a great place to live and work. Thanks Patty for the info!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 9 years ago from Northern Arizona

      As expected, another great Hub by Ms Inglish. Concise, informative, very well written, with plenty of links, video, and supportive data. If I were a younger man I would consider Ames as a place to work and raise my children. I hope the 5 Million plus going to ISU's football coach pays off with a better record than past years have been. I'm not particularly interested in relocating, but it was nice to read about an American city that has a successful government...We need more stories like this.