2022 IOWA POLICY ISSUES
The Iowa Chamber Alliance (ICA or "The Alliance") is a non-partisan coalition that advocates for economic growth policies and initiatives by representing leading Chambers of Commerce and economic development organizations across Iowa. The mission of the ICA is to drive a policy agenda that grows the state on behalf of our more than 17,000 members that range from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. This effort includes developing a policy structure that encourages communities to build attractive places in which employers invest and employees thrive, showcasing local strengths that drive the state's collective growth.
The 2020 census again highlighted a frustratingly slow population growth rate that has a major impact to economic growth. Iowa has grown less than 1% annually since 1900 and current demographic trends put extreme pressure on our businesses. Iowa's workforce issue is inextricably tied to this slow growth and continues to be the overwhelmingly number one issue facing business and economic development. Iowa businesses struggle to ﬁnd qualiﬁed candidates, with the appropriate skills, who are ready to work. Workforce training programs are extremely important, but this should be coupled with a focus on attracting new Iowans and developing the next generation.
This slow growth rate is difficult to comprehend as numerous publications highlight the positive attributes that exist in communities across this state. This includes consistently ranking high in the area of "Opportunity" according the US News and World Report annual ranking of "Best States". This metric combines affordability, economic opportunity, and equality. Opportunity taken in conjunction low crime rates, affordable electricity rates, limited natural disasters, and relatively abundant water sources provides an enviable base level from which to grow.
Iowa is the only state in the union that has not doubled in population since 1900. This slow population growth has created an acute talent problem for economic growth as the labor shortage inhibits attraction and expansion opportunities. The Iowa Chamber Alliance moved Talent Attraction to the top of our priority agenda in 2019 and created the annual Talent Poll to better understand Iowa’s strengths and weaknesses. Iowa needs to find new people willing to move to the state by first understanding what working age Iowans find attractive about living here.
The 2022 Talent Poll found that overall, the majority of Iowans feel joy and trust about living in the state of Iowa but have an overall dissatisfaction with the state’s career opportunities. To attract new Iowans, we need to better promote our low cost of living, “Iowa Nice”, and outdoor recreation opportunities while focusing on expanding the state’s entertainment options and promoting the economy.
We know as Iowans that we have a great environment for people to thrive and, even though population growth is an extremely difficult challenge our predecessors were not able to overcome, we should ensure future policy decisions focus ensuring Iowa's opportunity is obvious to those outside of our borders. Minnesota, Florida and Iowa each had just under 3 million people in 1950, but in 2020 those two other states saw growth rates exponentially higher than Iowa despite a lower value proposition in a variety of areas.
The Alliance encourages the Legislature to focus on attracting talent to ensure future economic growth and take advantage of existing value available statewide through work in three other areas:
- Economic Development
- Business Climate
The Alliance respectfully presents this agenda to the Governor, Legislature and to all Iowans for consideration in the 2022 legislative session. As various policy proposals are developed and debated, the shared goal ought to involve growing Iowa's economy in an inclusive and beneficial way with specific support for:
Developing policy strategies to grow Iowa's workforce that:
Funding for existing programs and consideration of new resources that promote "placemaking" including quality of life and the arts;
Fully funding the Future Ready Iowa Initiative;
Developing and supporting incentives with proven return in targeted industries;
Making business expansion and relocation decisions more competitive with a reduction of the corporate income tax rate; and
Considering deployment innovation for costly infrastructure investments.