Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Tours Mahaska County
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Economic growth is a vital part government plays. How that is achieved can vary. Things like rules and regulations, taxation and infrastructure help play a part in attracting businesses to an area.
Debi Durham, Iowa Economic Development Authority Director was recently taken on an afternoon tour of Mahaska County by county supervisor Mike Vander Molen.
Vander Molen said that having Durham visit would help give county officials an idea of things they could be doing “to make ourselves open for business.”
Durham spent nearly an hour talking about the state’s economic development plans, and fielding questions from local elected officials about how their communities can attract new business.
During her visit, Durham visited businesses that were involved in food processing to manufacturing. During her discussion, Durham had listed some things that Mahaska County could do better in helping to drive economic development.
“First of all, you do have a great foundation from which to build from. You have great companies, legacy companies,” Durham said. “The best way to grow from there is really grow through asset mapping their supply chain.”
Durham then added that finding employees for the new companies and to recruit new employees. “But more importantly talking to the county that they really need to look at the Certified Sites Program. They need to have that as ready-to-go, that when a company is ready to make a decision, it can be a quick turn-around.”
Leadership is also important for community growth, and Durham added that, “It shows me when you came together as communities to talk about this regional airport, that’s pretty big thinking and it’s very collaborative.” Durham added, “One it demonstrates, we are big thinking here, that we are looking at our future. What do we need to accommodate the industries that are here being able to bring their customers and vendors in.”
“The other thing I talked about though is you need a to look at a transition of leadership,” Durham said. She pointed out that as currently leaders continue to age, “you need to invite the young people of the community to the table and really engage them in conversations about quality of life, what they want to see in their communities and really get them committed to the vision plan of growth.”