Regional Priorities in 2021 Focus on Recovery
Dec 15, 2020
As we approach the end of a challenging year and give way to a more promising 2021, our public policy work will remain focused on economic growth policies that best support our communities now and into what has become a less predictable future. The Economic Alliance will once again partner with the Iowa City Area Business Partnership to advocate as one region for state and federal policies that addresses our workforce, business and community challenges.
The need to grow, retain and attract a skilled workforce remains the number one challenge facing our region’s business community. To that end, we will advocate for policies that close the skills gap, create accessible and welcoming communities to grow our workforce, bridge rural and urban interests, and promote businesses-friendly regulations and tax structures to support the short-term and long-term needs of our business ecosystem, battered by the multiple hardships of 2020. It is also imperative to support policy solutions to close opportunity gaps in our education, employment, and entrepreneurial systems.
With unemployment uncertainties, we have an opportunity to address the core issues facing workforce and adjust policies to meet future demands. A strong education system that aligns with the needs of the business community is critical to meeting our region’s current and future workforce needs. We support innovative initiatives and programs that develop needed skills and expand employer involvement in the development of workforce programs that align with PK-12, community colleges, universities and private institutions to maximize local efforts to build Iowa’s talent pipeline. We must bring Iowa schools back to world-class competitiveness and regain our reputation as the best education system in the nation. We can do this by promoting and rewarding high-quality teachers, tracking student progress and also investing in continuing education training programs and early childhood education. Additionally, we must ensure skilled, qualified workers continue to have the ability to live and work in the United States to help us meet current and future labor demands and drive innovation and entrepreneurship.
Business is often the leader when it comes to community initiatives, and we are committed to identifying and advancing solutions to help close the opportunity gaps that exist in our region. Businesses from all industries have been impacted by COVID-19 and will need long term support to recover. Small businesses contribute significantly to local economies and identities, and innovative solutions and resources will be needed to help them recover. Strategies also need to be put in place to help rebuild stronger while also preparing for the next disaster. Economic development incentives have been successfully leveraged to grow our economy and remain competitive nationally and have contributed to capital investment across the state, creating thousands of jobs and encouraging investment and entrepreneurship in Iowa. We need to protect and expand on these incentives so businesses can rebuild and grow, and we will continue to advocate for tax policies that lead to economic growth and job creation.
Iowa communities have been hard hit by COVID-19 and it will take years to recover. We must do all we can to keep more Iowans in the state and attract new populations to make their home here and contribute to our economic growth. Part of accomplishing that is creating desirable and robust communities with a great “quality of place” and are vital to Iowa’s workforce attraction and retention strategy. Diversity and equity in our communities also leads to economic growth and we must take steps to address criminal justice reform, re-entry employment, the digital divide and closing the opportunity gaps in our region. Providing businesses and communities, including regional airports, with the lifeline infrastructure they need will help our companies and communities recover from this pandemic and respond more effectively when we face the next crisis. Funding commitments must be maintained to ensure on-going local investments remain as planned. A new generation of roads, bridges, waterways, transit, hospitals, and flood mitigation systems is not only needed to meet the demands of our modern economy but also to withstand the next natural disaster.
Learn more about the public policy issues we’ll focus on in 2021 at www.cedarrapids.org/publicpolicy and click on 2021 Policy Focus.