A former eastern Iowa Congressman who’s been the leader of Chamber of Commerce in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines will be the new director of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development.Michael Blouin (blew’-in) represented the Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Dubuque, and Oelwein areas in Congress in the late ’70s and has lived in Iowa for over 40 years. He says he fell in love with Iowa and slowly has moved west. Blouin, who will be paid 175-thousand dollars annually, is taking a “significant” pay cut to take the job. Blouin says he’s convinced Iowa has a quality of life that folks in other states are yearning for. Blouin says Governor Tom Vilsack appealed to his “Catholic conscience” to convince him to give up retirement security and try to help the state. Vilsack says filling the job was a top priority for his second term. He says there is probably no more important job for the state government and the people of the state than “growing economic opportunity for Iowa’s working families.”Vilsack says Blouin has “instant credibility” with Iowa’s business community, understands the mechanics of economic development and knows how government works. Blouin has been the been CEO of the Des Moines Partnership since 1999. He led the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce for 12 years before that. Blouin, who is expected to easily win Senate confirmation to the job, will replace C.J. Niles who Vilsack fired the day before Thanksgiving.Dave Neal, president of the U-A-W Community Action Program Council, applauds the appointment of Michael Blouin to head the state’s Department of Economic Development. Neal says Blouin brings the background and experience to work with business and reach out to all sectors, to make economic development get moving in a positive direction in Iowa. Neal says Blouin has worked with government, with chambers and with business, and he says the governor’s lucky to get him for reported 170-thousand-dollar salary compared with what Blouin would be able to earn in the private sector.
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