A survey of 22 of the state’s largest employers indicates most of them should be growing between now and the end of the year.

Georgia Van Gundy is executive director of the Iowa Business Council (IBC), which released its second quarter Economic Outlook Survey Thursday. “Sixty-eight of our members are anticipating adding employees over the next six months,” Van Gundy says.

The positive economic outlook is tempered by a familiar concern amongst the state’s top employers.  Eighty-four-percent of IBC members cite “attracting, developing and retaining a quality workforce” as their primary business challenge. Van Gundy says the organization is launching an initiative, called Vision to Vitality, in hopes of addressing those workforce needs.

“And that (involves) going out to our communities and actually getting a community viewpoint on what are your barriers to growth? What are the best practices you have?” The first Vision to Vitality forum is scheduled for July 17 in Boone.

“We’ll be highlighting a partnership between business and education, Boone EDGE and Fareway, in which the businesses are partnering with the Boone School District to have work-based learning opportunities for students, so they can learn about some of the job opportunities early on in high school and hopefully will move into them after they graduate,” Van Gundy said.

Two more Vision to Vitality forums are scheduled for September 11 in Muscatine and October 9 in Le Mars. In addition to the expectation of adding employees, the new IBC survey shows 90-percent of the members anticipate higher sales and 63-percent project an increase in capital spending in the next six months.