The 16 largest chambers of commerce in Iowa are asking legislators and the governor to launch a “comprehensive study” to assess the “talent pipeline” in Iowa.
“Both Iowa’s short and longer term workforce needs must be reviewed in order to excel in an ever-changing global marketplace,” says Dee Baird, president and CEO of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance who is this year’s chair of the Iowa Chamber Alliance.
Baird says Iowa needs to keep more Iowans in the state and attract new Iowans.
“The Iowa Chamber Alliance advocates for state support of a comprehensive study of Iowa’s workforce issues to help assess needs and make sound policy recommendations that follow a broader strategy,” Baird says.
Baird points to the so-called “Battelle” study released a year ago which concluded the state has too few workers and wages here often are too low to keep and attract workers.
“It is imperative that Iowa prioritize its workforce development and retention strategy to ensure we have the people with the right skills and who are ready to work,” Baird says.
MidAmerican Energy and The Iowa Business Council paid the Battelle consulting firm $400,000 for last year’s study. One of that report’s recommendations was to find more money for the state’s transportation system and early last year legislators passed a 10-cent hike in the gas tax to do that. The Battelle study also recommended lowering business taxes and providing low-interest state loans to manufacturers that use the money to upgrade facilities.
Baird says a new study could “dovetail” a National Governors Association effort to find ways to improve the “talent pipeline” for existing Iowa businesses and encourage entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Iowa. The following chambers of commerce are part of the Iowa Chamber Alliance: Ames, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Dubuque, Waterloo and Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Muscatine, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, the Quad Cities and Sioux City.