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By Brent Willett, PDI President

Brent Willett
PDI President
We know from PDI members like you that year in and year out, one of the top reasons identified for maintaining PDI membership is the association's legislative advocacy efforts. The 2013 session, which adjourned sine die on Wednesday, May 22, was instructive of why. Along with a bevy of like-prioritized pro-growth organizations like the Iowa Chamber Alliance and Association of Business & Industry, PDI's 2013 legislative advocacy efforts bore fruit like few other years in memory. Consider:

  • Commercial & industrial property tax reform. C&I property tax reform has been at or near the top of PDI's legislative agenda for more than a decade, and the compromise which emerged from conference committee met many of PDI's priorities on this long-term priority for the association, most notably a reduction in tax burden not borne unworkably by the local governments many PDI members work daily with. The 10% rollback which is part of the compromise is fully backfilled and tracks closely with the moderate rollback percentage and implementation schedule advocated by PDI in a letter to the legislature as far back as 2011. The legislation contains many additional components—check out the session wrap-up edition of PDI Policy Perspectives for all the details.

  • Tax credit cap increase. PDI lobbied hard along with a number of other groups for an increase in IEDA's cap on tax credits after learning from the authority and others that cap room was rapidly declining and was beginning to affect projects. The authority's original proposal called from an increase from the current $120 million cap to $185 million. We knew the figure would be a moving target and subject to negotiation and ultimately, the bill passed will raise the cap to $170 million, notably less than requested, but still a very significant increase in a difficult legislative environment for incentives.

  • Economic development funding. Stitching all the economic development funding pieces together—tax credits, IEDA funding, direct financial assistance funding- the industry came out on the other side of this session with more funding for economic development in Iowa than at any time in at least the last three years.

  • Iowa Reinvestment Act. PDI supported this Chamber Alliance initiative as a new tool in the toolbox, enabling a diversion of certain sales tax revenues to local coffers to pay down development costs on major, master-planned projects in Iowa communities.

  • TIF. PDI led a charge to head off two very late [and correspondingly, very dangerous] pieces of TIF legislation introduced in the House. For a short while, PDI and partners were faced with the real likelihood of a bill moving out of the House which would have, among other things, stripped every education levy out of TIF and crippled the tool. You read that right. Ultimately the bill did not move but did signal to us that the 2012 TIF reforms were not viewed as extensive enough by some powerful legislators. The Legislative Committee is already at work on an off-season strategy on the topic.

Of course, the legislature also passed banner bills on education reform and Medicaid expansion, both of which will have long-ranging effects on economic and workforce development issues throughout our state for many years to come. We know that in marketing our state and our communities, Iowa's political and budgetary stability and efficacy are true selling points in the face of challenges from other, more politically volatile states and the accomplishments from both sides of the aisle in the 2013 Iowa General Assembly will go a long way in furthering that message. In all, a good year at the Capitol for economic development in Iowa, thanks in large part to the yeoman's work of the PDI Legislative Committee Co-Chairs in Jason Hutcheson, Kathryn Kunert and Wayne Pantini and lobbying team in Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell.


Brent Willett
President, Professional Developers of Iowa

Bill Signing
PDI Member Steve Dust attends the bill signing ceremony for Senate File 295,
the Property Tax Reform bill, on Wednesday, June 12.
It was held at Hawkeye Ready Mix Concrete in Hiawatha, Iowa.


 Iowa Chapter 133 Discussion
From Rick Allely, PDI's Representative to the Iowa DNR Committee

Blake Birkel, PE in our Environmental Department and myself attended the Chapter 133 meeting at the Iowa DNR with a total of 38 people attending the meeting. The discussion was very productive and a number of issues were identified and recorded by DNR staff. The decision was made to organize three subgroups to review policy, technical, and overall consistency aspects of the proposed rule changes. Blake agreed to serve on the technical group while I agreed to serve on the overall consistency aspects committee.

More Information >>

 Workforce and Economic Development Status Report

The statewide Workforce and Economic Development Status Report has been released. This is the second annual report which delineates some of the opportunities and challenges facing Iowa in relationship to the attainment of the strategic goals released by the governor in 2011 (i.e. creating 200,000 new jobs, increasing family incomes by 25%, providing Iowa's youth with the best education in the nation, and reducing state government costs by 15%).

View the Report >>

 Advanced Manufacturing Hub Step Closer with State Funding

The Cedar Valley TechWorks is one step closer to becoming the physical location of an Advanced Manufacturing Hub for the region and state thanks to legislation adopted this week. Nearly $4 million was included in Iowa Economic Development Authority appropriations for the project.

The IEDA's Iowa Invocation Council, which will administer the funds, has been working closely with the Cedar Valley TechWorks and Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber to establish the Campus as the designated site for the Hub.

The bulk of the funds will construct improvements in the Tech 1 building on the Campus. A portion of the funds will be used for the University of Northern Iowa to purchase a 3-dimensional (3D) printer to fabricate on-demand molds for cast components to support advanced manufacturing, in collaboration with TechWorks.


 Health Insurance Survey

When key parts of the Affordable Care Act take effect in 2014, there will be a new way to get health insurance: the Health Benefit Exchange (Marketplace). The Marketplace is designed to help consumers and small businesses find health insurance that fits their budget, with less hassle. Starting in 2014, small employers will have more choice and control over their company's health insurance spending through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), another new marketplace designed to simplify the process of finding health insurance for small businesses.

To assist with the implementation of this new marketplace, you have the opportunity to participate in a survey to help in the planning process. The Iowa Department of Public Health has contracted with the University of Iowa Public Policy Center to conduct a survey to find out Iowans preferences for things like how to purchase health insurance and where you would like to receive information. This information will be very valuable when planning the exchange and targeting the education and outreach in Iowa.

Access Survey Here >>
More Information / Factsheet >>

 Iowa's Laborshet Studies Guide Available to Developers

For over a decade, Laborshed studies have proven to be a unique and effective tool for Iowa communities working to expand their existing businesses, attract prospective employers into the state, and maintain/recruit a high-quality workforce. The availability of labor is among the most critical location factors for a business. Communities that have the ability to document and illustrate that area residents are willing to accept new or different employment opportunities, as well as identifying their current and desired wage levels, work experience and level of education have a distinct competitive advantage over those that rely on anecdotal information, unemployment rates or outdated data/information.

Unfortunately, just having a Laborshed does little to help you retain or attract businesses. How you choose to use the information and incorporate it into your strategies will be the most significant factor that determines if the Laborshed study was a good investment for your community. The real success of the Laborshed study is not in the methodology or maps created but in the efforts of communities and economic developers to truly serve their existing businesses and prospect.

Iowa's Laborshed Studies Guide has been put together to navigate economic development professionals through the process of conducting a Laborshed Study and how to use that Laborshed Study once it is completed. Laborshed Studies have been conducted for nearly 15 years for local and regional economic development organizations across the state. With a one of a kind study like the Laborshed Study, there can be many questions. What is a Laborshed Study? What does the Laborshed Study do? What doesn't the Laborshed do? How do I fund my Laborshed Study? How do I use my Laborshed Study? These question and other frequently asked questions are answered by clicking the link below.

Laborshed Studies Guide >>



See the latest issue of PDI Policy Perspectives >>




PDI congratulates Brent Matthias, Executive Director of Waverly Area Economic Development, for being named to the Governor's Iowa Great Places board.

More Information >>

 UNI's Advance Iowa Program to be Showcased at National Entrepreneurial Event

The Advance Iowa program, a new initiative from the University of Northern Iowa will be highlighted and showcased at the 2013 National Economic Gardening Conference on June 6, in Kansas City. Advance Iowa is an innovative economic development program focusing on helping small/medium sized businesses grow and expand using custom tailored solutions that have been proven successful nationally. The program follows the Economic Gardening approach created by the Edward Lowe Foundation, who also puts on this annual event.

Dan Beenken, Program Manager of Advance Iowa says, "It really is a great opportunity to be a part of a national event like this. It allows us to share what we have done through our pilot testing and learn from the successes of similar programs outside of Iowa. Any time you can gather a group of forward-thinkers, good things are going to come from it."

More Information >>




 Please Give Us Your Opinion on PDI's Spring Event

Who doesn't like to give an opinion? As we typically do, PDI gathered information from the folks who attended the spring event May 1-3, 2013 in combination with the SMART Conference. But we're interested in hearing from those of you who DIDN'T attend the spring event—to find out what you want PDI to offer and plan for 2014. Please take three minutes to complete these five questions in the survey by June 25. Thank you!

Survey >>

 Job Postings:

Story County Community Outreach Director, Ames Economic Development Commission, Ames
Capital Investment Campaign and Marketing Coordinator, Lee County Economic Development Group, Keokuk
Economic Development Director/City Administrator, City or Ackley, Ackley
Community Development Director, City of Orange City, Orange City
Economic Development Specialist, City of Sioux City, Sioux City
Executive Director of Economic Development, Madison County Development Group, Winterset
Economic Development Director, City of Dubuque, Dubuque

More Information >>

 New Members:

Jasmine Almoayed, City of Cedar Rapids, City Manager's Office, Cedar Rapids, IA;
Brian Dalziel, Iowa Lakes Corridor Economic Development, Spencer, IA


 The 2013 HousingIowa Conference

September 4-5, 2013
Marriott in Coralville, IA

 On-Line Course: University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute - Business Retention & Expansion

Summer 2013 - TBA
More Information & Registration >>

 On-Line Course: University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute - Strategic Planning
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 - Hosted by Cedar Valley
Registration Materials available in July; check out conference videos here >>

 University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (On-Site)

November 3-7, 2013
Crowne Plaza Hotel - Downtown Union Station Indianapolis, Indiana
More Information & Registration >>

 On-Line Course: University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute Marketing Course

November 4, 2013 - January 13, 2014
More Information & Registration >>

 University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (On-Site)

May 4-8, 2014
Hotel: TBA
Dallas, Texas
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:
Cedar Valley Regional Partnership
City of Cedar Falls
Farmers State Bank
Hawkeye Community College
Point Builders
In-Kind: Waverly Chamber of Commerce

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

Conference Benefactor Sponsor
Iowa LinkedUp/ITC Venture
North Iowa Corridor Development Corp.

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

Spring Only
Viebicher Associates Inc.
The Iowa Regional Center

Fall Only
Iowa Small Business Development Centers
JEO Consulting Group Inc.

BREI Award
Smart Solutions Group
Blane Canada

Contributing Sponsors — Fall & Spring
Iowa Association of Business & Industry
Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
Central Iowa Power Cooperative

Contributing Sponsors — Spring Only
Great Des Moines Partnership
Iowa Utility Association

Contributing Sponsors — Fall Only
Access Energy Cooperative
East Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative
Grow Greater Burlington
Guthrie County Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative
Midland Power Cooperative

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