Iowa is leading the Midwest in terms of economic growth, according to the latest survey from Creighton University. Economist Ernie Goss says Iowa’s business index climbed during February to its highest level since July of last year. Goss says supply managers and business leaders in Iowa are reporting very strong new hiring for February, with the highest employment numbers in the region, especially in heavy manufacturing tied to agriculture. Despite rising oil prices, Goss says Iowa saw greatly improved economic numbers for the month, though he says another challenge is just ahead. He expects the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates at its March 22nd meeting which will slow economic growth in the Midwest region. After adding 14-thousand jobs during all of last year, Goss predicts Iowa will see ten-thousand new jobs just during the first half of 2005. He says Iowa’s fastest growing export market during February was Mexico.