An organization that includes the executives of 20 of the state’s largest businesses has released a 40-page plan to grow Iowa’s economy. Elliott Smith is executive director of the Iowa Business Council (IBC). He says one of the greatest challenges identified in the report is Iowa’s lack of population growth.

“We have a stagnant, aging, non-diverse population,” Smith said. “It’s grown a little bit, certainly since the last census, but relative to other states in the country, we’re behind the curve.” Iowa is one of 10 states losing a congressional seat for the 2012 election because of the recent census figures.

The IBC report, released last night (Monday) at the organization’s annual gathering in Des Moines, is titled “A Competitiveness Blueprint: Iowa 2025.” It praises Iowa for building a wind-based energy, a strong insurance and financial services sector and a diverse manufacturing base.

Smith says that diversity has helped Iowa bounce back from the economic downturn quicker than other states. But, Smith says Iowa is lagging behind in helping new, innovative businesses succeed. “Iowa has traditionally had a challenge with attracting venture capital for entrepreneurs and small business owners,” Smith said.

Last week, Smith testified at the statehouse on behalf of the IBC and urged lawmakers to maintain state funding for public preschool programs.