The governor of the state of Iowa, Terry Branstad, visited Creative Edge Master Shop’s headquarters in Fairfield IA on June 20, 2014 at a celebration of the company’s 25 years of waterjet innovation. After a tour of the 100,000 square foot production facility, the governor addressed a crowd of employees, vendors, and community members.
Behind the podium were banners listing some of Creative Edge’s achievements. One banner listed the countries Creative Edge exports to, including countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Another listed Iowa landmarks that Creative Edge has made projects for, including the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the National Guard in Cedar Rapids, and Drake University.
Creative Edge President Jim Belilove introduced the governor:
“Welcome Governor Branstad to Creative Edge and thank you for helping us note and celebrate our 25th anniversary year. This company was born and nurtured in the fertile soil of Iowa’s entrepreneurial culture. We are independent, self- reliant and innovative, like so many of Iowa’s manufacturers.
“Our company and its employees have benefited from your leadership and the many years of steady and fair-minded guidance of Iowa’s economy that your administration has provided. We appreciate the pro-entrepreneurial policies, the favorable business climate, the helpful tax reform and other measures that have made Iowa an economic bright spot in the nation, with balanced budgets, low unemployment and win-win regulatory approach.
“As you toured our factory you saw dedicated, highly skilled and hardworking Iowans, most of whom have been with the company 10, 15 and 20 years. Together this team has pioneered a useful and beautiful new technology that is unique in the world.
“We are participating in your goal of increasing Iowa’s exports. We have posted a list of the countries outside of the United States where we have completed work [India, China, Taiwan, Australia, France, Ukraine, Ireland, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Canada, Japan, Oman, and Nigeria].
“We also have created landmarks here in Iowa. It has been our honor to have contributed to many of Iowa’s special places [Iowa State Fair, Drake University, Jefferson County Civic Center, Bridgeview Center, Leverett Center, University of Iowa Biology Building, SunnyBrook Assisted Living Centers, St Francis Xavier, and the Birthplace of Des Moines mural].
“Again, thank you for visiting Creative Edge. I know I am not alone in wishing you continued employment in Iowa and a renewal of your contract with the citizens of Iowa this November.”
Governor Terry Branstad took the podium and said (transcription):
“Thank you very much, Jim. I’m really pleased to be here and for the opportunity to meet all of you and to see first-hand — I’ve seen your good work — now I get a chance to see how it’s done. Technology and creativity all put together and it’s really unique, what you do and it’s great to see.
“Obviously we see these projects we’ve done in the state of Iowa but [we] also see the international work that you’ve done so I want to congratulate you on 25 years of success and the great work that you do and the opportunity that people get to enjoy it. It is unique, especially the stonework. It’s something that could[n’t] have been done previously but with the water cutting and the high tech material and then I found out something too about the way that you ship this stone, that you don’t put one on top of the other, that you have to [pack] it [vertically] because it would break the other way around so that’s something I didn’t know. I guess when you do these travels and you visit companies, you learn things all the time. I’m really proud to be here, it’s an honor for me to serve as governor of Iowa again. I did that for 16 years [1983-1999, and 2010+], and I had a great job as the president at Des Moines University [2003-2009]… At your beautiful hospital here, I got a chance to see the good work that you’ve all done and it may be the first time that I’d seen it. We were down in Fort Madison at an assisted living place and I have a small piece of your work too now displayed in the governor’s office so if you get a chance to come to the Capital, I want you to know that we do have that displayed. We can be a part of helping get the word out and market what you’re doing, we’re really proud of it.
“We’re really proud of all the companies and all the different innovative things that are going on in Iowa. I’m glad to say that Iowa today is, I think, the 7th lowest in unemployment in the nation. We’ve been able to grow good jobs in our state and we’re continuing to work the market.
“One of the reasons for me to do these visits, yesterday I visited a company called HUSKO that makes parts for John Deere and Caterpillar… I visited a big chemical plant in Clinton and of course I’m here in Fairfield today, the diversity of different businesses, and you have a lot of entrepreneurial activity here in Fairfield. This community is very well known to be very innovative and a lot of creative activity and a lot of things going on and we’re encouraging that kind of thing all throughout the state of Iowa.
“I’m proud to say that one of the first things we did when I came back in office was get the state’s financial house in order and we have restored the money that had been taken from the cash reserve and economic emergency account. We put together a two-year budget with five-year projections and then once we got the state’s financial house in order, we were able to then pass property tax relief and education reform and those are multi-year commitments. They were designed to restore Iowa to best-in-America in terms of student achievement and through our teacher leadership program, we reward teachers for taking on leadership responsibility as lead teachers and mentors and coaches… We also provide incentives for high achievers to go into teaching, especially in math, science and special education.
“In the property tax relief, you’ll see a 5% reduction in the next two years in all commercial and industrial property, and because that’s always paid a year late, what we passed last year, you’ll see the impact of that this year, but the state is reimbursing local governments so local governments are not going to lose out in this process. So it’s exciting to see what’s going on.
“My next stop is to go to Ottumwa where we have a volunteer recognition just to honor and recognize the many volunteers that give their time to help other people in the state. That’s another thing I’m really proud of in Iowa.
“Indeed we have a special relationship with Xi Jinping, the president of China and it’s kind of interesting how that came about because I was governor back in 1983, the first year that we signed a sister statement with Hebei Province in China. In ‘84 my wife and I led a trade mission to China. Then the next year, a small agriculture delegation from [China] came here led by a young man named Xi Jinping who was then just a party leader at the county level… Well, I met him in my office on the 29th day of April 1985 and he’s never forgotten it. We took him all around the state of Iowa… When I came back as governor in 2011, normally I get to meet with the governor of the province at that level, but I got to meet with Vice President Xi Jinping and he spends 45 minutes telling me how much he loves Iowa and how well Iowans treated him when he came here in 1985 so he calls us old friends. So then I got the idea, he’s going to be the next leader of China, he’ll be the president of China, he’s the vice president now. He’s going to move up and he’ll visit Washington DC. What if I invite him to Iowa and do a reunion with his old friends here? So we did that in Muscatine on the 15th day of February.” [Tape ends]
When the governor concluded his speech, he warmly posed for photos and selfies, then continued on to his next Southeast Iowa stop.