History

From the first meeting of the Iowa Manufacturers Association to present day, the Association’s goal has been to give a strong, unified voice to business and industry on issues affecting Iowa employers.

The Iowa business community has seen dramatic transformations over the past 100-plus years. As Iowa businesses have evolved, so has the Iowa Association of Business and industry.

Historic Highlights:

1903 —  In August 1903, a group of Iowa manufacturers assembled in Des Moines to develop an exhibit representing Iowa industry for the St. Louis World’s Fair. This meeting formed the framework for the Iowa Manufacturers Association.

Wilbur W. Marsh of the Iowa Dairy Separator Company in Waterloo was selected to serve as IMA’s first president. A constitution and bylaws were adopted and a committee was appointed to solicit memberships at $5 each.

1910 —  IMA adopted a logo with the head of a hawk on a gear wheel. This logo was approved by the Iowa General Assembly as the legal emblem for goods manufactured in Iowa.

1911 —  Iowa manufacturers became concerned about the need for an inexpensive insurance plan benefiting employees. The first Iowa Workers’ Compensation law was passed in 1913, largely because of IMA’s efforts. Key provisions of the law have been nationally recognized for making Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation one of the nation’s most cost-effective and efficient laws.

IMA leaders formed an insurance company, Employers Mutual Casualty Company, to provide workers compensation insurance coverage, which was unavailable at the time.

1947 —  IMA led the battle to enact Iowa’s right-to-work law. This issue gained national exposure after IMA leaders informed U.S. Sen. Robert Taft and Congressman Fred Hartly that the pending Taft-Hardly Act jeopardized the continuation of state right-to-work laws. A special provision was included in the federal law to allow states to write and maintain state right-to-work laws without preemption.

1950s —  IMA was instrumental in the establishment of the Iowa Development Commission, the forerunner of today’s Iowa Department of Economic Development. IMA volunteer leaders and past presidents served on the commission, providing guidance and stability in its early years.

1970s —  IMA successfully lobbied the Iowa Legislature to adopt the federal nationwide standards promulgated by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. In 1972 and 1973, IMA received safety awards from the National Council on Safety for “distinguished service in promoting the efficiency and effectiveness of safety programs.”

1984 —  The Association broadened its membership scope to include all business types and changed its name from the Iowa Manufacturers Association (IMA) to the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI).

Also in 1984, the ABI Foundation was established to help develop Iowa’s workforce and leaders through statewide education programs. At the time, those programs included Leadership Iowa and Business Horizons.

2008 —  Leadership Iowa University is created by the ABI Foundation to provide professional development opportunities for Iowa college students. This program completes the continuum of programming from high school through professional.

2010 —  The Elevate Advanced Manufacturing initiative is established in response to a growing skills gap and workforce shortage in Iowa. The Elevate campaign promotes advanced manufacturing careers in our state while challenging outdated stereotypes about the industry.