116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
We have long lived by the philosophy that as chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, our jobs do not change based on the most recent election. Regardless of who is in office, we work with elected officials at the local, state and national level to push forward policies that drive economic growth and cultivate strategies to attract talent to our respective regions and state. The 2020 election cycle in our country, perhaps more than any in recent political memory, was highly contentious and very personal to many people. The conversation around politics at all levels of government has continued to be polarizing.
Our responsibility is to find common ground solutions and lead with civility. In preparation of the 2021 legislative session, advocacy organizations like ours spent a great deal of time developing policy proposals that support our constituencies and communities. The business community has always been an active partner with government, working to improve policy for the better of not only our members, but all Iowans.
There are several proposals currently moving through the Iowa Legislature the business community has worked to elevate for some time. The Greater Des Moines Partnership and Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance support expansion of broadband, access to affordable quality child care and attainable workforce housing, all of which have been highlighted by Gov. Kim Reynolds in her priorities, and also articulated by legislators as priorities that will further the state's recovery.
Each of these priorities - broadband, child care and housing - carries a strong business case. Growing our talent pool has long been a critical focus of our regions and state. These issues address some of the challenges we face to grow, attract and retain a skilled workforce. The global pandemic exacerbated the need for better broadband access, and it further highlighted the problem of affordable child care options. A derecho intensified the need for more attainable housing options across the state in communities of all sizes.
Those priorities also have bipartisan support. Furthering bipartisan issues allows us to see progress despite today's often polarized political climate.
It is also our job to look to the future. To watch trends and if necessary, strategically adjust to ensure Iowa grows. Iowa's population has seen little growth in the past 100 years, yet the need for more employees continues to increase. To truly meet the state's talent recruitment needs, we will again need a public-private approach.
As the second funnel deadline has now passed, a month remains for legislators to conclude their work by passing a budget and addressing the priorities of Iowans. The Legislature has in front of them comprehensive bills with the potential to move Iowa forward as we recover from the events of 2020. Time and energy should be focused with eyes on the future. We've been dismayed to see other legislation introduced this session that, if enacted, would place limits on Iowa's ability to grow. Iowa must continue policies that keep our reputation as a welcoming state, encourage growth and send the message that Iowa is open for business.
Jay Byers is CEO and president of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Doug Neumann is executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.