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What Do Iowans See in Cuba? Opportunity

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DES MOINES, Iowa--Some Iowans hope a trip to a place few could travel to before--Cuba--will bring new connections and possibilities for themselves and the state.

The Obama administration formally reopened ties with Havana, Cuba in late 2014, and an agreement reached between the U.S. and Cuba in 2015 resumed commercial air travel for the first time in more than half a century.

restaurant cuba

(Cuban restaurant crowded with tourists. Photo courtesy: Andrew Doria.)

While many are still unsure about the president‘s reestablished diplomatic relations in Cuba, some Iowans welcome those connections.

About two dozen Iowans just returned from Cuba, a place where they see opportunity. The country is home to 11 million people, almost four times the population of Iowa. Cubans average $32.68 per monthly wage, about $392 a year.

POET Nutrition

Midwest Premier Foods

Warren Distribution

ACT, Inc.

Hawkeye Pedershaab

Iowa Pork Producers Association

Meredith Agrimedia


Iowa Farm Bureau Federation

Iowa Corn Growers Association

Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

World Wide Export & Equipment Sales, Inc.

Diamond V

Polo Custom Products

Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.

Chicago Foods International

Iowa Economic Development Authority

Iowans, like Andrew Doria, see potential customers.

Doria is the international sales director for Midwest Premier Foods. He said he was looking for one thing when he went to Cuba: opportunity.

street cuba

(Cuban street with tourists checking out local vendors. Photo courtesy: Andrew Doria.)

Iowa-based Midwest Premier Foods currently trades in the Caribbean, focusing mostly on meat. Doria said 40 percent of what Cuba imports from the United States is poultry. Between 2007 and 2011 it was primarily pork.

cuba cars

(Cars look vintage to American, but in Cuba they are seen as "new." Photo courtesy: Andrew Doria."

“We’re competing with countries, such as Brazil, and the Europeans. And we want to see what dynamics are [in Cuba] so we can compete and grow our business,” Doria said.

He says while Cubans don't make much money, he does feel like the tourism industry in Cuba could provide the initial expanded trade possibilities.

Watch the first segment of the March 6 edition of The Insiders with Dave Price, as Doria talks about his trip, as well as the opportunities he discovered.

In part 2, see what two Iowa politicians think of all this anti-politician from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. 

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