If the 19 state region of our country’s heartland were an independent nation, it would be the world’s fourth largest economy. Think about it…Minnesota to Louisiana, Ohio to Tennessee, North to South Dakota, our country’s heartland covers nearly one third of our country and lumped together, its economic power would be undeniable on a world-wide basis.

So what’s behind these 19 heartland states, these states often referred to as “the flyover states,” these states often talked about as American carnage or America’s manufacturing breakdown?

The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and the Walton Family Foundation wanted to find out. The partnership researched these states and just released their findings in the State of Heartland’s Fact Book 2018.

According to Mark Muro and Robert Maxim from the Brookings and Jacob Whiton and Russ De Vol from the Walton Family Foundation, there are three key take-a-ways regarding their research on the 19 heartland – flyover states:

  1. This region leads the country in advanced manufacturing and agricultural technology. Advanced manufacturing, according to Muro, is highly competitive despite the suffering of job losses in basic manufacturing.
    1. All 19 states have enjoyed an uptick in living standards since 2010. This uptick still lags behind the US at large but, things are getting better.
    2. Advanced manufacturing is where a huge portion of US business innovation occurs.
    3. This sector anchors the region.
    4. This sector makes a huge contribution to American exports.
    5. Jobs in this sector offer premiums to workers.
  2. Micro-political and middle-sized cities (populations of 50,000 or less) are buoying the region.
    1. 31 cities in the region are performing better in terms of economic growth than the national average.
    2. Cities such as Indianapolis, Madison, Omaha and Des Moines have thriving new tech scenes.
    3. According to Muro, “There’s a strong constellation of mid-sized cities that are quite vibrant and growing faster than some might expect. They answer the question about where the region’s digital future lies.”
  3. Signs of tech growth and tech funding are developing clusters of industry infrastructure in these heartland states.
    1. Cortex in St. Louis has a startup ecosystem downtown.
    2. Central Indiana Corporate Partnership helped Indiana’s land companies such as Salesforce turn an area of deindustrialization into a center for advanced industries.
    3. Again according to Muro, “ There are plenty of examples of places engaging in advanced cluster strategies…that are delivering…benefits to a region that’s emerging as a more balanced and vibrant modern economy.”

The heartland’s shortcomings?

  • These states need more human capital investments, innovative funding, research and development funding, tech transfers from universities and social equity inclusion.
  • These states are underperforming when it comes to the number of jobs within young firms in business for 5 years or less.
  • There are only 3.3M jobs ofronly 9% of the region’s total employment.
  • The region needs to invest in its digital future.

Agents, look to these heartland states and cities and their respective advanced manufacturing and agriculture technology businesses as your future clients.


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