A man who’s headed the Chambers of Commerce in Iowa’s two largest cities for the past 15 years will now lead the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Governor Tom Vilsack has chosen Michael Blouin as his new economic development chief, but Vilsack is rejecting the idea urban Iowa will get top billing in job creation efforts. Vilsack says folks in rural Iowa need to know he’s very concerned and conscious of the challenges rural Iowa faces.Blouin was a Congressman, representing Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Clinton, Oelwein and other parts of eastern Iowa in the late ’70s. He was with the Cedar Rapids Chamber for 12 years before taking the job of Greater Des Moines Partnership C-E-O in 1999. Blouin says Iowa’s 950 communities and 99 counties can’t keep competing against one another for industry. He says they need to create incentives for counties to come together to team up and create new business opportunities. He says there are benefits to having businesses created within 40 miles of counties, and they need to team up instead of “sharpening knives and going after each other.” On Monday, Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows said the number one economic growth priority for Iowa policymakers should be reworking Iowa’s tax structure. Blouin says it’s not his job to develop tax policy. Blouin says he’s been elected to nothing and serves at the Governor’s pleasure, but Blouin says the lower the tax structure, the easier it is to get people to move into a community.
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