Midwest Partnership EDC utilizes the Synchronist Business Information System for our Business Connections Program. In the summer of 2017, our team visited with 37 businesses throughout Adair, Audubon, Greene and Guthrie counties 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 Midwest Partnership 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 23% of interviewed businesses. Regardless of industry, the number one issue concerning companies surveyed is the shortage of a 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 partner with local school districts and community colleges to develop targeted training programs to help 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 each year, bringing businesses and educators together to discuss and find ways to retain our youth.
Looking ahead, over half of the businesses interviewed plan to introduce new products or services within the next two years and roughly 40% plan to expand their business soon. 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.
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.