A two-day conference brings bankers, community groups, regulators, academics and others to Ames and Nevada this week. Today (Tuesday), the participants tour the new Lincolnway Ethanol Plant in Nevada, and the Iowa Energy Center, which has half-a-dozen different experiments underway on alternative energy. Helen Mirza, spokeswoman for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, says it’s the latest in a series of gatherings on rural and agricultural issues.
“What’s on the cutting edge, and where are we going from here?” Mirza says the Federal Reserve has a “continual” interest in entrepreneurship and what it means financially and to the banking community. While analysts have said for years that rural communities and small towns are dwindling, Mirza says local bankers and investors find a lot of promise there in the likelihood of alternative energy sources.
“When you are forced to look for alternatives,” she says, “Americans are a very resilient and ingenious people, and they find ways to conquer a problem.” She says faced with the eventual depletion of fossil-fuel energy sources, we have to find alternative sources of energy, “and this is the pioneering time for that.” Wednesday’s events are all at the Gateway Center in Ames.
Panels will focus on alternative energy and business development. The luncheon and keynote speaker, who’s familiar from appearances at Iowa business and economic-development events, is Jack Schultz, CEO of Agracel and author of the book “Boomtown USA – The Seven and-a-Half Keys to Big Success in Small Towns.” He’ll talk about entrepreneurship.