Some of the titans in Iowa’s business community gathered in Des Moines early this morning for the first board meeting of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress. Debi Durham, the governor’s chief economic development officer, referred to the group as “thought leaders.”
“Your goal is really to really be our international market think-tank, if you will,” Durham said to the board this morning, “to tell us those trends that are happening, emerging technology, emerging trends, what you’re seeing in the economy, things we can do on the legislative front — whether it’s on the state level or the federal level — so that we can create a more pro-growth, pro-business climate in the state of Iowa.”
The new agency is a different kind of organization called an “authority” rather than a “department” and Durham suggested that a few years down the road it could run without much, if any, taxpayer-support. Instead, the Economic Development Authority would be supported through a combination of fees the agency will charge businesses and other groups for “concierge services” and bonding programs.
The new Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress board includes the CEOs of Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins, Des Moines-based Principal Financial and Pella-based Vermeer. Governor Branstad spoke to the group at its first meeting.
“We’re excited about the opportunities that are before us,” Branstad said. “We need the kind of guidance that the members of this board can give us. You’re the folks that are on the front lines doing exciting things and creating jobs in our state.”
Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds also addressed the board.
“You have the first-hand knowledge and the perspective that we need to help us identify barriers to growth and opportunities for improvements,” Reynolds said. “The charge of this board will really be to put together a comprehensive economic development strategy…With the U.S. economy continuing to struggle, the need for very strategy policies and investment to boost innovation, competitiveness and job creation really have never been greater, as I know all of you are very well aware of.”
Reynolds and Branstad will serve as co-chairs of the advisory board made of 11 business leaders from around the state.
AUDIO of the remarks Branstad and Reynolds made this morning.