Report: Severe Weather Threatens Iowa’s Competitive Advantages

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa is no stranger to flooding, tornadoes and other extreme weather events, which a new report says are threatening the state’s competitive advantages.

President of the Business Forward Foundation Jim Doyle said companies depend on Iowa for its access to key waterways, model climate for corn and soybeans, and fast-moving global supply chain. He said severe weather is impacting the viability of farmers, manufacturers and other businesses in the state.

“Severe weather is hurting their commodity prices. It’s hurting them on their supply chains. It’s damaging plants and equipment, and it’s also messing with consumer demand for their products,” Doyle said. “Whether it’s restaurants or hotels or golf courses or minor-league baseball parks or department stores, it’s having a big impact on the bottom line.”

He noted both of Iowa’s Fortune 500 companies have issued warnings to investors about severe-weather risks. Doyle said companies in Iowa are examining ways to better mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We’re hearing from small-business leaders in Iowa that these costs are rising,” he said. “They’re still manageable. These businesses are taking steps to change how they do business, where they locate their assets, how they insure their businesses in order to mitigate these costs. But these costs are rising and they’re real.”

Doyle contended state and national political leaders should end the climate-change debate, and focus on the challenges businesses are confronting.

“Politicians are talking past each other and there are still too many of them who deny climate change altogether,” he said. “We encourage people to ignore what politicians are saying and listen to what the biggest, most important players in their state are saying.”

According to the research, since 2014, Iowa has experienced 16 climate- or weather-related disasters that each topped $1 billion in damages.