The Iowa Business Council has released its annual review of the state’s business climate. The Iowa Competitiveness Index rates the state in five areas with subcategories in each. Business Council executive director, Elliott Smith, says there were no dramatic swings this year. “We’re staying relatively stable, haven’t seen dramatic moves overall to the positive or negative. Now when you get into the underlying metrics in the five issue areas — there are some that are moving significantly in the right direction,” Smith says.
The five areas are economic growth, education and workforce readiness, governance and fiscal matters, health and well being and workforce demographics and diversity. The ratings are labeled green for “improving,” yellow for “no significant change” and red for “worsening.” The health and well being area saw the most green. “We’re seeing fewer smokers in the state, our infant mortality rate is improving — I think we are fourth in the nation in that area,” according the Smith. “We have a general well being index measure which is top ten in this country, so generally we are in good shape.”
The one area of health that remains in the problem red area is obesity. “We declined significantly in that measure and that’s not good,” Smith says. “The decline there probably kept us from turning that overall measure moving from yellow to green.”
Smith says the emphasis on improving education in the state appears to be making some progress. “The proficiency measures for out eighth graders in reading and math have trended downward in recent years — that has reversed — the movement is back up in a positive direction,” Smith says. He says that improvement is not yet where they would like to see it.
Smith says the results this year are typical of the four year history of the index, and the ratings show a need to keep pushing forward. “Continue focused on doing what it takes to attract a skilled workforce here to the state, I think is the overall message for this index,” Smith says. The Iowa Business Council’s members are the top executives of the largest businesses in the state, the three state university presidents, and the Iowa Bankers Association.
See more details on the Iowa Competitive Index here: IBC Competitiveness Index PDF