The Iowa Chamber Alliance, a coalition of business representatives from the state’s 17 largest cities, announced Monday a list of priorities for the legislative session that’ll begin about a dozen weeks from now — and tax reform is at the top of the group’s agenda. In addition, spokesman Ron Corbett says the chamber execs think incentives are an important tool for government to encourage business development, and the Chamber Alliance favors long-term financing for the so-called “Vision Iowa” state economic development program. Corbett says there should be a longterm strategy regarding business incentives, not a new program every other year, but something business leaders can count on as they’re out there trying to influence business to move in or expand. Corbett says the alliance has been a strong backer of Vision Iowa and its partner program, the Community Attractions and Tourism grant program, and supported this summer’s special legislative session to restore funding for another incentive program, the Iowa Values Fund. Corbett says the programs help local governments create a nice environment for people to live in, but he says the alliance wants to see steps beyond that — like property-tax reform. The group’s agenda includes meaningful income-tax reform as well. One innovative part of the Chamber Alliance agenda is a way to help entrepreneurs with “Commercialization Centers.” He says in recent years the state’s been aggressive in creating venture-capital and “angel investment” funds, and now the state needs to get viable businesses in touch with them. Corbett says that’s what the commercialization centers would do, link potential busiensses with venture-capital investors. Corbett, who’s also president of the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce, says an aggressive marketing plan is another key part of the alliance’s agenda. He says that shouldn’t be too surprising given the amount of advertising going on in this political season. With people being bombarded by direct mail and TV ads trying to get them to choose a candidate, Corbett says we spend pennies telling the rest of the world how great Iowa is, and why business should locate here.
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