People assume agricul­ture fuels the Midwest’s fortunes, but manufactur­ing plays a key role, too.

The latter is the largest industry in Iowa, making up 17 percent of the state’s GDP. “We added 16,000 manufacturing jobs in 2014,” says Tina Hoffman, marketing and communications director at the state’s Economic Development Author­ity in Des Moines. As with agriculture, the market “has been contracting a bit” in the past two years, she notes. Nonetheless, building companies account for about 10 percent of Iowa’s 216,167 manufacturing jobs.

Though best known for aviation products, Kansas also has a thriving manufacturing industry. At Versaflex in Kansas City, sales of polyurea-based items are up by 10 percent in five years. President Dave Cercie expects more of the same in the future. “A large part of that will be based on continued infrastructure improve­ments on bridges and tunnels,” he explains. “We have good solutions for those types of prob­lems.”

As for Missouri, “we’re a truck state,” says director Mike Down­ing of the Missouri Department of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment in Jefferson City. He’s ref­er­enc­ing a Ford F-150 plant in Kansas City and a GM plant in Wentz­­­ville. “Since 2009, we’ve cre­ated 16,200 auto­mo­tive jobs, with over $2 billion in capital invest­ment.”

Agriculture has declined in Nebraska thanks to corn’s plummeting prices. Manufacturing represents $14 billion of the state’s GDP, with building products accounting for less than a tenth of that. Bright spots are Kawasaki, which is making railcars for Wash­ing­ton, D.C.’s Metro, and Hastings HVAC, a leader in com­­mercial heating and cooling goods. “We’re doing 10 to 15 percent better than last year,” says Hastings vice president Shawn Hartman, point­ing out that this July was the best in the com­pany’s 15-year history.

You can’t ask for more than that.