economic development

Joyce Russell/IPR

Backers of three separate casino proposals made their pleas before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Thursday, which will decide later this year whether to approve a new casino for Cedar Rapids.   

The commission turned down a Cedar Rapids proposal in 2014, citing concerns about market saturation and cannibalizing other Iowa casinos.

Developers argued before the board on Thursday that, long-term, a casino for Cedar Rapids would not harm revenues for other gaming operations.    

Kirkwood Community College

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and former Governor Terry Branstad have marked 2017 as the "Year of Manufacturing." But what is the state of manufacturing in Iowa?

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer explores the future of advanced manufacturing and skilled labor in Iowa.  

Nathan Thornton, a second year welding student at Kirkwood Community College, says he has an optimistic outlook for his career path.

dubuque
SD Dirk / flickr

The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded about $2 million in incentives to retain 200 manufacturing jobs in Dubuque.

With city and county contributions, the Friday decision brings the total incentive package for furniture manufacturer Flexsteel Industries to more than $10 million.

The incentives will help Flexsteel demolish and clean up the site of its current plant in Dubuque, and build a new plant at a different site. The company announced last year it would close its plant in Dubuque and look for a new site.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

A 200-person delegation representing the Greater Des Moines Partnership is in Washington this week lobbying on behalf of business and economic interests. This year, the focus is on a major project at the airport.

The Partnership is made up of 23 chambers of commerce representing 6,000 Central Iowa businesses. It has organized lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., for 38 years. The senior vice president of government relations and public policy for the group, Joe Murphy, says each year the agenda includes a transportation related concern. He says this year it involves air travel

kids share delmar books
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As Iowa’s metropolitan areas continue to grow, many small towns across the state are losing people and businesses.

In eastern Iowa, a town of about 500 people is making a more creative attempt at reversing that trend by using an oral history project to stimulate development. Delmar has paired up its youngest and oldest residents to explore how the community’s past and shared values may help shape its future.

In downtown Delmar, the storefronts are empty, paint is peeling off the buildings, and a quiet park has replaced the train tracks that used to dominate the town.

Polaris Industries Facebook

More than 300 people in northwest Iowa are getting laid off, now that Polaris Industries is shifting production of all-terrain and utility vehicles to Alabama, Minnesota and California.

The company says the layoffs at its Milford facility are the result of an effort to streamline plant infrastructure.

Milford is a town of fewer than 3,000 people and Polaris is the community's biggest employer. Mayor Bill Reinsbach says layoffs will hurt the local economy. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Forty-three year old Diana Staver worked on the assembly line at a John Deere factory in Waterloo. When she got her pink slip in 2015, she wasted no time in figuring out what her next move would be.

“I got the layoff notice and when I got the layoff notice, I just dreaded going out and finding another job so I came to Hawkeye [Community College] that same afternoon I was here by 8:15 in the morning I wanna say and they weren’t quite open”, Staver explained.

Five new industrial sites have been certified through the Iowa Certified Site Program, a program that its creators hope will bring economic growth to rural Iowa. These new sites, located in Forest City, Clinton, Grinnell, Waterloo and Osage, are now “project-ready” and claim to be "relatively risk-free” for new developments such as data centers or food manufacturers. 

"Economic development has become more and more competitive, and more and more sophisticated," says Gov. Terry Branstad. "Companies are not willing to wait, they want to be able to move quickly." 

Brian Wilkins/Flickr

The University of Northern Iowa’s Business and Community Services is partnering with six Northeast Iowa counties to launch a new initiative in support of small business growth and entrepreneurship.  The project is one of five in the state. 

Program Manager James Hoelscher says he believes the importance of small business is often underestimated.

Iowa economic development leaders are rolling out a new loan program to help communities spruce up, especially small towns.

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham says low interest loans are available to communities through the Nuisance Property and Abandoned Building Remediation to get rid of eyesore properties. 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

North Carolina-based Prestage Farms has announced plans to build a 10,000 head-capacity hog processing plant in Mason City. The company's estimated investment would be $240 million.

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

The head of Iowa’s top job creation agency was in the hot seat at the capitol Monday. Lawmakers and union representatives grilled Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham about mass layoffs at the Iowa Fertilizer Company plant in Lee County.  But Durham says the  record-breaking incentives that attracted an Egyptian company to Iowa will not be scaled back.  

The pink slips last month took union workers and state lawmakers by surprise.  

Durham says she found out about them from Burlington Democrat and labor supporter Senator Tom Courtney.

The Branstad administration has spent close to half a million dollars on an initiative  designed to convince more companies to locate here rather than in another state.   Four industrial sites have been designated as project ready, a trend officials say is catching on around the country.  

Clay Masters / IPR

Plans to build a new regional airport are underway in south central Iowa’s Mahaska County. Two existing airports – in Oskaloosa and Pella would close – and a new consolidated one would provide services to large companies in the area. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports on the fight over whether or not a new regional airport will help the area economy. 

Lakota Group

Plans for developing a regional medical district in the center of Cedar Rapids are beginning to come together. As Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reports, area hospitals hope that by joining together, they can compete with other cities. 

The MedQuarter in Cedar Rapids includes two large hospitals, smaller clinics, and nearby businesses. As a Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District, or SSMID, the group can levy taxes to improve the area.