Q: What is the Ambassadors Tour?
A: I started the Ambassadors Tour in 1986, in response to the farm crisis and as part of an effort to help diversify the state's economy. Every other year, the event hosts foreign diplomats from around the world on a five-day tour of Iowa to promote export and international trade opportunities for agriculture, manufacturing and services produced in Iowa as well as highlight Iowa's top-notch educational institutions. The tour also puts a big emphasis on Iowa's people. Visitors see Iowa's renowned workforce through factory and business visits. They stay overnight in the homes of local families and enjoy friendly and generous Iowa hospitality. When I started the tour, I had to work hard to get ambassadors and representatives from 30 countries to participate. The Iowa tour's good reputation grew quickly, and more than 60 countries have regularly been represented for subsequent visits. The idea is to have international diplomats get to know first-hand what Iowa has to offer the world community and marketplace. When visitors return to their embassy assignments, they can spread the good word about Iowa. In hosting the event, I hope to encourage and foster collaboration and trade-related economic activity that benefits the people of Iowa for many years to come. The five-day event is funded entirely by private donations. Time and again, Iowans indicate that they see the tour as helpful to building new opportunities for our state's economy by helping to make it possible.
Q: Where exactly will the tour go and how can I participate?
A: The 2009 Ambassadors Tour will go to Des Moines, Huxley, Carroll, Ralston, Storm Lake, Wall Lake, Sac City, Fort Dodge, Webster City, Iowa Falls, Ames, Nevada, Marshalltown, Newton and Ankeny. Visitors will stay overnight in homes in Ames, Carroll and Fort Dodge. In addition to factory and business visits, the international delegation will spend time on a family farm and take in the Iowa State Fair. More information about the 12th Ambassadors Tour is posted at http://grassley.senate.gov. Click on Ambassadors Tour.