The region that constitutes Mid-Iowa Development Association (MIDAS) consists of all of Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster, and Wright Counties, as well as all local governments within this six-county area.

The region is predominantly rural, covering an area of 3,459 square miles with a 2010 population of 93,710 people. The City of Fort Dodge (population of 25,206) is the only community with a population greater than 10,000. There are four communities in the region (Clarion, Eagle Grove, Humboldt, and Webster City) with populations greater than 2,500.

Agriculture and agricultural related businesses are the major economic activities in the region, along with several major industrial employers and service-oriented businesses. A major trend is the shift from an agricultural economy to one of manufacturing, services, wholesale and retail trade, and government. But, in all scenarios, economic development for the region is, and will remain directly dependent upon the agricultural community. It is expected that major economic development projects will be in the form of "value added agricultural enterprises" and others that provide agricultural services.

The soil is the most precious raw material noted for the region and can become the economic engine upon which a renewed economy will be based. The current proliferation of, and emerging political debate regarding confinement agriculture, will have significant impacts for the region. The second area of growth may occur in the acquisition of processing facilities that use the abundant grain as industrial "feed stock."

A dependable and efficient transportation system is vital to the social and economic growth of an area. Minimum commuting and hauling duration and costs for moving goods and services ensure competitive products, services, and an advantage for acquiring new industries. In addition, a diversified system can ensure continuity of movement in bad weather, labor disputes, breakdowns, repairs, construction, etc.

The MIDAS region exhibits the following attributes:

  • Highways: The area is well served by a network of two-lane hard surfaced state and county roads with its backbone being two transcontinental four-lane freeways (I-35 and U.S. 20). In addition, U.S. 169 serves as an interior north-south connector.

    Iowa 3 is an excellent east-west connector through the northern portion of the region. Within the next fifteen years it is projected that U.S. 20 will join with other highways to form a continuous four-lane corridor ("the Midwest Connector") from York, Nebraska (intersection of I-80 and U.S. 81) to Chicago, Illinois and Madison and Milwaukee in Wisconsin. Studies indicate that its completion will significantly increase the traffic through the region and trigger economic growth by injecting into the rural setting transcontinental east-west traffic similar to what I-35 provides for a north-south orientation.

  • Trucking Firms: Over 500 trucks leave Fort Dodge each day and two major trucking firms have corporate headquarters located within. The diversity of haulers developed as a response to the need to deliver large quantities of gypsum wallboard produced at four Fort Dodge plants. The quest for return haul loads and other hauling diversity provided the opportunity for area firms to develop into nationally known cargo carriers. The presence of this carrier capability presents a hidden regional attribute.

  • Railroads: The majority of lines within the area carry less than one million annual gross tons per mile, yet several heavily traveled lines exist. The Canadian National's mainline from Chicago to Omaha/Sioux city is the third busiest east-west rail corridor within Iowa. The Union Pacific's mainlines from Eagle Grove to Des Moines and from Mason City to Jefferson form a vital interior connections. Ten elevator-loading facilities capable of handling 75 or more cars at one time and eight facilities of 50 to 75 cars represent the importance of grain hauling. A major void is the presence of an intermodal center. A major rail attribute is the crossing of two competing railroads in a rural setting void of urban development approximately four miles west of Fort Dodge (Webster County Ag-Industrial Center). Two large agricultural processing facilities now call this Park home. EDA has been a significant provider of infrastructure funding to develop the park.
  • Pipelines: The region is traversed by a variety of natural gas, crude oil, petroleum products, and anyhdrous ammonia pipelines. Fortunately, abandoned pipelines can be converted for other uses, such as communications networks. Discussions have emerged for the potential of transporting ethanol by pipelines, but considerable capital expenditures would first be required.

  • Airports: Eight public airports are maintained with the primary hub being the Fort Dodge Regional Airport where regularly scheduled air service for passengers and cargo is available. All six counties in the region are located within a 45-mile radius of this airport. The communities of Webster City, Pocahontas, Rockwell City, Humboldt, Clarion, Belmond and Eagle Grove all have general utility airports to accommodate smaller aircraft. Due to the costs associated with improving airports, regionalism must be considered. A major regional airport service study has been proposed for the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

  • Public Transit: Public transit service is available in all six counties as operated by the transit section of MIDAS. Service includes a fixed route system in Fort Dodge with ADA complimentary paratransit service, and demand-response service throughout the remainder of the six-county service area. The primary clientèle include the elderly, children, clients of work centers for persons with disabilities, and the general public. MIDAS provides a link to the interstate bus companies by operating a daily route from Fort Dodge to Williams.