Business Connections Program
Midwest Partnership utilizes a program called Synchronist for our Business Connections Program. In the spring of 2015, our team visited with 31 businesses throughout the region, in the counties of Adair, Audubon, Greene and Guthrie. The purpose of these semi-annual visits is to gain information and feedback on a number of topics including: workforce, utilities, transportation, community services, industry, business growth/decline, etc. This feedback allows the organization to identify and prioritize economic issues in the region, as well as report data to the Iowa Economic Development Authority, contributing to its annual BEST of Iowa Report.
Advanced Manufacturing is the leading business sector in the Midwest Partnership Region, representing 32% of interviewed businesses. Regardless of industry, the number one issue concerning companies we met with is workforce: there is a shortage of skilled workforce. This is a recognized trend across the Midwest and greatly impacts the businesses in our region. Midwest Partnership continues to connect businesses with available resources, as well as partners with community colleges to continue developing targeted training programs to meet employer needs. Also in response to the widespread workforce shortage, Midwest Partnership collaborates with Western Iowa Advantage and IowaWORKS to host an Employer-Educator Summit in the fall, bringing businesses and educators together to discuss and find ways to retain our youth.
Looking ahead, a strong majority of the businesses we interviewed plan to expand within the next three years. This is an indicator that businesses are growing as the demand for their products increase. Midwest Partnership anticipates assisting with a number of these expansion projects in one way or another.
Additionally, while the majority of business headquarters are local, some company headquarters are not located within our region, yet affect our local economy. A priority for Midwest Partnership in 2016 will be to visit those corporate headquarters to conduct similar interviews.
Overall, the Business Connections Program is a necessity to rural economic development. Regular communication with businesses and organizations allows Midwest Partnership to facilitate growth of existing businesses and to promote the West Central Iowa region to prospective businesses. Read the full report or view the summary.