In a profession that already sees a lot of turnover, many of Iowa’s economic developers could soon be retiring. In recent months IDM has provided technical assistance to several economic development organizations who are facing impending retirements of key staff members. According to a recent PDI membership survey, 22% of the responding economic developers were 60 or older, almost one in four! As economic developers, we know that the retirement cliff is coming in our workforce and we are constantly trying to help our businesses and communities prepare – but what are we doing about our own economic development organization (EDO)? It’s a business too! No matter the reason for a change in ke... Read More
It is no surprise that quality of life amenities, including parks, outdoor recreation venues, and indoor recreation centers are important factors in helping attract new residents, retain current residents, increase tourism, and bolster economic development. Multiple studies have found that talented workers, remote workers and retirees are more likely to locate in places with a variety of amenities.
But how can community leaders justify investments in recreation amenities? It is difficult to quantify the actual financial impacts of parks, outdoor recreation facilities and recreation centers within a single community; yet many community leaders are seeking precisely that information... Read More
In November the Institute for Decision Making (IDM) held its annual Advisory Council meeting at UNI. It was great to be able to bring the group together in-person this year! IDM’s Advisory Council is made up of individuals from economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, utilities, councils of government, community colleges, and state agencies. These individuals share their knowledge, experience and observations with each other, with IDM staff, and others from UNI. During this year’s meeting the group spent some time discussing how the roles of economic developers and economic development organizations (EDOs) are changing and evolving, and what those changes might look like... Read More
Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than which it was originally built or designed for. Many cities have old buildings that have been abandoned, and they are seeking ways to repurpose these buildings. Adaptive reuse promotes environmental sustainability by reducing the amount of demolition debris being disposed of in landfills. It also promotes economic sustainability by helping buildings remain viable community assets.
According to Nancy Thompson from Useful Community Development “Re-purposing of buildings is a simple idea for community improvement, but often more difficult to implement because of the construction challenges th... Read More
I am sure lately many of us have been reflecting on the last 12 months and how our lives, work, communities and organizations have changed due to the COVID pandemic. Three words come to mind when I reflect back on IDM and the past 12 months: adaptability, collaboration and data. Over the past year we have become more adaptable, we have expanded our collaborations, and we have seen how important data is to our clients - having helped our clients gather and analyze a lot of data!Strategic Planning
Why have these three words come to mind? We have seen our clients and partners adapt and change over the past 12 months. IDM has become more adaptable in our operations and in how we s... Read More
In reaction to the rapidly changing economic and health environment in which we are now living, many communities and organizations are rethinking their strategies and reevaluating their priorities, and seeking a new plan of action. When deciding what type of plan your community or organization needs, it is best to consider three things: the scope, the reason and the ownership. Think about these key questions:Is it focused on the whole community or just the organization (i.e. external or internal)? What is the time horizon for the vision and/or implementation of the plan (3 to 5 years, 7 – 10 years, or more)? Is there a specific area of interest (e.g. economic development, recru... Read More
On a recent video call, someone asked whether anyone knew of a trainer or training on time management and prioritization. We all know that an economic developer’s life is full of meetings, emails, calls, and many other client/board/staff inquiries and expectations. Trying to accommodate all of these tasks can be overwhelming, and even the best scheduler ends up with fragmented, useless time left over between meetings, leaving little room for focused project work. A trainer or training may or may not help. There is no single time management system, set of tools or strategies that will work for everyone.
However, one fact remains that does apply to everyone. To be successful in usin... Read More
IDM is occasionally asked if it is possible to measure the impact of a new resident to a community. Coming up with one precise “number” to represent the overall impact of a resident is not possible, but there are a several things that can be assessed, both quantitatively and qualitatively that can help you describe the “value” of new residents in your community.
New residents offer benefits to communities that are multi-faceted. Local governments, businesses and nonprofits all reap the rewards of adding new residents. New residents can increase overall:Spending on goods and services Local sales tax collections Local property taxes Student enrollment Volunteerism Suppo... Read More
Thoughts from the IDM team...
As COVID-19 is affecting our own workplace and campus community, the IDM team is thinking through how you, as economic development and chamber professionals in Iowa and the Midwest, might help your communities through the issues and challenges caused by COVID-19. Right now the situation has the feel of a springtime tornado warning - changing minute by minute. You likely realize it should be taken seriously but you are really not sure if it will hit or how much damage it will cause. In times like this your immediate goal is to not be caught standing in the middle of the street watching spinning clouds with your neighbors. IDM does not have a crystal... Read More
At a recent IDM Advisory Board meeting, we asked our board members to share some of the issues and trends they are seeing that affect economic development across the state. Among the responses was the availability and affordability of childcare. All agreed that childcare issues can stagnate business growth by limiting workforce availability. Board member Kiley Miller feels that this could be the issue where Iowa stands out from other states in the race for talent. Given all of the other things that states do to attract talent, he thinks that Iowa could “be the state that wins this competition.” Fully tackling these issues will take federal and state resources and action, but local communi... Read More