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Friday, June 19, 2020

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

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 Support... Read More
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

The United States Constitution requires a count of the population every ten years. In 2020, America will get its chance to count every resident, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Counting everyone is important!  Rock the Vote estimates that a community will lose $20,000 in funding over a ten year period for every individual not counted.  This means that just one family of five not counted translates to a loss of $100,000 over ten years. In short, the economic health of communities hinge on making sure everyone is counted in 2020. 

Census data is critical – it’s the basis by which political power and federal money is distributed in our communities.  The number of con... Read More

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

IDM meets many economic developers throughout the year and we know how stressful the job can be.  We began to realize how disparate our occupation is when we started a simple quest on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website to find the turnover rate in the economic development occupation to validate our perception that it is somewhat high.  It turns out there is no such distinct occupation.  On reflection of course, this makes perfect sense.  There is no one-size-fits-all economic development job description, and economic developers are found in any number of industry sectors.  Many, if not most economic development organizations in Iowa have a very few to no staff, yet they are the... Read More

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Businesses, workers, investors and community stakeholders all want to know whether your region, community, or organization is worth their investment.  Depending on who you are interested in reaching, economic developers and community leaders can use a variety of metrics to demonstrate their value proposition.  Metrics can be used to compare your region, community or organization to other similar or aspirational regions, communities or organizations (benchmarking); or metrics can be used to measure performance, wellbeing or progress (often tied to objectives within a strategic plan). 

Economic development organizations (EDOs) frequently seek assistance from IDM to determine which m... Read More

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

For decades economic developers and others have determined that successful communities, regions and states take a three-legged approach to economic development focused on Business Retention & Expansion (BRE), Business Attraction, and Entrepreneurial Development. However, as the economy has grown and demographic shifts have taken place, it is clear that in order for a community, region or state to have success in economic development, the three-legged stool needs to be expanded to a six-legged table.  

The six-legged table includes the three traditional legs of economic development (BRE, Business Attraction, Entrepreneurial Development) that can be called the business developme... Read More

Monday, September 24, 2018

As planning experts, we at IDM consider the shelving of strategic plans as the greatest threat to the work of the many planning team members, community leaders and others who give time, talents and treasure to the development of the strategic plan.  The plan is developed, but then the implementation stalls.  Has this happened in your organization or community?

IDM has been adding “implementation follow up meetings” as a normal course of our strategic planning services.  Serving as a third-party neutral facilitator, we ask the plan’s implementers about their progress on actions, help troubleshoot challenges and barriers, and guide the conversation around any changes that might be n... Read More

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Counties and communities across the Midwest face a common challenge, a shrinking workforce and in many cases, overall population loss. Economic vitality depends on growing, or at least sustaining the population necessary to create and fill jobs, support schools, and maintain decent housing and infrastructure. Success relies on an area’s ability to retain its current population and/or attract new people. Economic development in practice has long shifted away from a strictly business development role to include workforce and community development.

Workforce recruitment and retention issues are now common themes heard from BR&E visits, and economic developers nearly everywhere ar... Read More