Economic development discussed during community meeting

State Representative Patti Ruff, Allamakee County Economic Development and Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) jointly hosted a community meeting Tuesday, September 9 at the Old Rossville Store to discuss strategies for promoting economic development in Allamakee County and surrounding area. Ruff said that she hoped that the discussion would serve as a springboard to the next legislative session. Community and businesses leaders from the Waukon, Lansing and Postville areas participated in the discussion, along with Northeast Iowa Community College President Dr. Liang Chee Wee.
Much of the discussion focused on jobs for young people. Dr. Wee told the group that there are well-paying jobs available but there is a shortage of properly trained workers to fill them. Wee noted that while there are plenty of people seeking jobs that require degrees from four-year colleges and plenty of workers seeking jobs that require a high school diploma or less, there is a shortage of workers with the technical training required for today's more advanced manufacturing jobs. He said that companies would come to northeast Iowa if the community could produce a skilled workforce. Wee also noted that another major factor slowing economic development in northeast Iowa is the lack of broadband internet service, which is also a requirement for more advanced manufacturing. Ruff said that the broadband legislation proposed by the Governor during the last legislative session did not pass because it referenced old technology, such as copper wiring instead of fiberoptic cables and did not include smaller communication companies. She said that she hopes that a better bill will be brought forward for consideration during the coming legislative session.
Other topics of discussion included commercial property tax relief, urban and rural funding and legislative priorities, funding for rural schools, promotion of entrepreneurship and the ongoing shortage of middle-income and senior housing.  For additional information about the session or to provide further input, contact Allamakee County Economic Development Executive Director Laura Olson at 563-568-2624. Standard photo and report by Bob Beach.