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By Brent Willett, PDI President

Brent Willett
Brent Willett
PDI President
I expect many of you have seen the article by David J. Robinson in the most recent edition of Area Development magazine discussing the importance and value of incentives to successful economic development, "How Some Locations are Making Their Business Case for Incentives". If you haven't, it's worth a read, particularly in light of where the discussion in our state on the subject stands today. The article, which takes a national perspective, argues that the lion's share of state and local economic development incentives awarded each year throughout the country represent critical deal-closing levers and that detractors overstate their proportionate sum [$80 billion throughout the US in a $16 trillion economy last year, or one half of one percent] and understate their essential role in securing projects for states and communities.

And yet, despite evidence to the contrary, economic developers throughout our state are battling in yet another legislative session for only a modest economic development project funding pool in two parts- that of an increase in IEDA's tax credit cap to its former $185 million and for a direct financial assistance pool of about $19 million, or about one-third of one percent of a $6.5 billion budget. For really the second legislative session in a row, a single economic development project has been teed up and demagogued at the expense of a more considered, rational and fair conversation about the importance of these resources. Last year with the help of numerous other groups PDI was able to largely fend off an attack on TIF which was mounted largely in the context of a single deal, and we find ourselves back at it again, only with a different project and a different but no less critical tool to defend. What's gotten lost in many of the arguments for and against these incentives is, simply, how important they are to communities throughout this state for projects large, yes, but mostly modest- the 30-job expansion/retention of a local employer or the repurposing of a vacant building by a new company.

Robinson's article argues that incentives, assuming judicious use, should be viewed in the context of profit/performance alignments in the private sector, in that economic development incentives represent an ‘area of public policy where government rewards positive behavior…just as stock options create an incentive for private companies to care about the performance of their employer, economic development incentives create a major incentive for private companies to grow in a region or state…' and goes on to remind the reader that the vast majority of incentives awarded throughout the country are performance-based and have post-creation triggers based on jobs and revenue state and local governments don't currently enjoy. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a private-side business decision maker who would characterize employee performance incentives as ‘waste,' ‘subsidies' or ‘employee welfare', but rather essential contributors to growth. Alas, it is not the case in our economic development dialogue today.

I may have just preached to the choir, but I hope you'll turn around now and preach to your [legislative] congregation.

Don't forget...

Tuesday, March 26 marks the return of the PDI/IEDA one-day event for statewide economic development partners. The morning has PDI hosting the PPP [Partners, Profession and Process] event at the Iowa Farm Bureau, with the afternoon session "Getting to Know IEDA," hosted by IEDA later that day. Both events are excellent opportunities for those new or relatively new to the economic development profession or new to it in Iowa. Plan on a day packed with information, resources and networking with your statewide partners at IEDA.


Brent Willett
President, Professional Developers of Iowa


 Join PDI & IEDA on March 26!

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is partnering with Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI) on a one-day event for statewide economic development partners on Tuesday, March 26.

PDI is hosting the PPP Course—The Partners, the Profession and the Process during the morning session at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, 5400 University Avenue, West Des Moines, Iowa from 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 noon, and will include lunch.

More Information >>

 IEDC Looking for Entries for the 2013 Excellence in Economic Development Awards

PDI member organizations should be very proud of your projects. You should consider submitting it as an entry into the International Economic Development Council's Excellence in Economic Development Awards program.

This is your time to shine! Send your project in and get the recognition you and your organization deserve. The International Economic Development Council's 2013 Excellence in Economic Development Awards kicked off its Call for Entries on February 11th and will end on May 17th. Enter before April 12th to receive an early bird discount. Please visit to learn more and to download the entry packet.

Interested in learning what the judges look for in a complete entry? Join the Awards Advisory Committee for a free webinar on March 20 to hear about common mistakes and see real best practices. For more information and to register, visit the IEDC website.

If you are aware of any other organizations that deserve recognition for their efforts, please be sure to pass this message along. IEDC has 35 awards categories that would match almost any community's best programs, partnerships, marketing materials and leaders!

 IWD Update

Our nation is currently facing a shortage of qualified workers. This trend is commonly referred to as the "skills gap" - the difference between the skills employers require and those that workers actually possess - and it has left scores of jobs unfilled across America.

The Skilled Iowa Initiative is working to better prepare Iowa's students and workers by making sure they are equipped with the practical workplace skills that employers need.

More Information >>

 LOIS Increases Exposure Through Partnership with Site Selection Magazine

LocationOne Information System (LOIS) has partnered with Site Selection magazine to give all sites and properties on LOIS additional national and international exposure to site selectors. Site Selection magazine's website will soon feature sites and properties on LOIS.

Site Selection magazine, published by Conway Data Inc., delivers expansion planning information to 44,000 site selectors and executives of fast-growing firms. The senior publication in the development field, Site Selection is also available via Site Selection Online. The SiteNet Dispatch, a weekly e-mail newsletter, is delivered to approximately 44,000 industry professionals. The publication also publishes "The Site Selection Energy Report," "The Site Selection Life Sciences Report" and "The Site Selection Aerospace Report" monthly e-newsletters.

More Information >>



Check out the latest news in Policy Perspectives >>



 Sioux City MSA Ranked #1 for Economic Development in 2012

The Sioux City MSA ranks first in the nation for economic development, according to Site Selection magazine. The ranking is based on qualified economic development projects for communities with populations between 50,000 and 200,000 people. This is the third time in the last six years that the Siouxland region has been recognized with this distinction. Mayor Bob Scott accepted the award from Site Selection magazine Executive Vice President Ron Starner on March 1, 2013.

"The Siouxland metro has once again emerged as the top economic development community in their population category," said Starner. "The significant number of business expansions that took place in this market in 2012 is a clear indication of the confidence business executives and key decision makers have in this community." Starner emphasized that communities which consistently rank in the top ten nationally share a reputation for competitive cost structures, a strong work ethic, robust transportation infrastructures, and exceptional quality of life amenities which lead to continued economic growth.

Tracked and confirmed annually by Site Selection's "New Plant Database," qualifying projects must include new construction and meet at least one of three criteria: capital investment of $1 million or more, creation of a minimum of 50 new jobs, or the addition of at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space. Retail, government, school, medical office, and hospital projects are not eligible for consideration.

The Siouxland metro first appeared in Site Selection's top ten in 2006 with a third place ranking. The region ranked first in the nation in both 2007 and 2008, while finishing second in 2009.




 Opportunity Assessment of the Red Rock Area

Roger Brooks, President of Destination Development International, will be doing an Opportunity Assessment of the Red Rock Area in June. The assessment is made possible through the partnership of 16 different local and regional entities. The power of this partnership is that our rural area will be provided the expertise of the most respected professional in destination development in the United States.

The workshop will includes Roger's insights on branding in addition to his findings and suggestions from the Opportunity Assessment. This past December Roger was the speaker on two webinars that were hosted for the tourism industry. Now, you have the opportunity to hear his insight in person.

If you have others in your office that would like to attend please forward this information on to them. Early bird registration ends May 1, so don't delay in registering.

Registration & Information >>

 Nominations Deadline Extended to April 1 for BRE Awards

Please consider a nomination for the PDI Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Awards Program recognizes the contribution of BRE to the success of local and regional economic development initiatives. The award will be presented by the Governor on Thursday, May 2 during the SMART Conference.

Purpose of Award: To increase the focus on BRE in economic development organizations by identifying programs and projects that have significant impact on Iowa communities.

More Information >>

 Register for PDI's Spring Event

This educational and networking opportunity, held at the Renaissance Savery Hotel on Wednesday, May 1, will enhance the SMART Conference agenda, offering efficiency for attendees of both events. Economic development professionals will learn first-hand about changes in state programming from leadership at the Iowa Economic Development Authority, as well as the PDI legislative wrap–up. Participants will have the opportunity to choose the resources they need to learn in an interactive format. PDI is recruiting experts from our IIC, IWD, SBDC, DNR, DOT, universities, community colleges, utilities, and other resource providers for the timed resource table sessions. The afternoon will conclude with a networking reception for further discussions with resource providers and participants. Friday, May 3 will focus on federal legislation – the How To's. You won't want to miss this three day event! You can register for all three days on PDI's website.

More Information >>

Your Online room reservations are now just a click away. Simply click/cut and paste the link below to the property's home page with the negotiated rate code already entered in the appropriate field so you can quickly make your room reservation.

Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel >>

 Job Postings:

Executive Director, WeLead (West Liberty Economic Area Development), Program Coordinator II, West Liberty, IA
Project Manager, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Des Moines, IA
Economic Development Director, Jackson County Economic Alliance, Maquoketa, IA
Director of Economic Development, Greater Burlington Partnership, Burlington, IA
President & CEO Clinton (Iowa) Regional Development Corporation, Clinton, IA

More Information >>



 PDI Communicating Through PowerPoint for Economic Development Professionals
Thursday, March 28th, 2013- 1:00 PM CT

We've all heard the jokes, PowerPoint + Communications = Oxymoron. Death by PowerPoint.

Ignorance is not an excuse. Presentation platforms are an essential ingredient of economic development. Economic development professionals' use and MISUSE presentation software working to win support (resources and funding) and paint pictures of our communities. These presentations have real consequences for organizations and professionals.

The difference between the butt of the joke or the buzz can be a thin line. Choose your side.

This webinar focuses on effective communicating with presentation software.

More Information >>



 PPP Course - The Partners, the Profession and the Process

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
5400 University Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa
More Information & Registration >>

 Getting to Know The Authority

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
1:00-4:00 p.m.
Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
More Information & Registration >>

 Deadline for IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Award Entries

April 12, 2013
Entry Packets and More Information >>

 Heartland Economic Development Course

April 21-25, 2013
Blue Springs, MO
PDI Scholarships are available thru 3/31/13 at - (800) 782-9520
Registration & Information >>

 University of Oklahoma EDI Entrepreneurial Development Course
More Information & Registration >>

 PDI Spring Event

In conjunction with the SMART Conference
May 1-3, 2013
Renaissance Savery Hotel, Des Moines, IA

 University of Oklahoma Business Retention and Expansion 2013 Course


 MAEDC Best Practices Conference

May 15-17, 2013 Sioux Falls, SD
More information >>

 2013 C2ER Annual Conference & LMI Training Institute Annual Forum

May 20-25, 2013 Nashville, TN Full agenda coming in January More information >>

 University of Oklahoma EDI Entrepreneurship Course

June 10, 2013 - August 5, 2013 - Online registration coming soon
More Information & Registration >>

 University of Oklahoma EDI Strategic Planning Course
More Information & Registration >>

 PDI Fall Conference

Building the Economic Developer
September 25-27, 2013
Park Place Event Centre
Wingate by Wyndham and AmericInn Hotel
Cedar Falls, Iowa

 University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute

November 3-7, 2013
University Place Conference Center and Hotel
Indianapolis, Indiana
More Information & Registration >>

 University of Oklahoma EDI Marketing Course
More Information & Registration >>

For more information, contact Lynn Harkin, PDI Headquarters at (515) 243-4585 or Email


PDI Thanks the 2013 Sponsors



Alliant Energy

Renew Rural Iowa

Special thanks to our local sponsors in Cedar Valley:
City of Cedar Falls
Hawkeye Community College

Triple Event Sponsors
ITC Midwest
Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp.
Iowa Economic Development Authority

Conference Benefactor Sponsor
North Iowa Corridor Development Corp.

Conference Exhibit Sponsors — Fall & Spring
Black Hills Energy
Center for Industrial Research & Service - ISU
Convergent Fundraising Solutions
Iowa State University CIRAS
Peoples Company

Spring Only
Viebicher Associates Inc.
The Iowa Regional Center

Fall Only
Iowa Small Business Development Centers

BREI Award
Smart Solutions Group
Blane Canada

Contributing Sponsors — Fall & Spring
Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
Central Iowa Power Cooperative

Contributing Sponsors — Spring Only
Great Des Moines Partnership

Contributing Sponsors — Fall Only
Access Energy Cooperative
East Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative
Guthrie County Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative
Midland Power Cooperative
City of Cedar Falls

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