Business

Iowa Business Council to Congress: 'Thoughtful' immigration changes needed for workforce, growth

Mary Andringa

Iowa Business Council
Mary Andringa Iowa Business Council

The Iowa Business Council called on Congress to proceed with several “thoughtful” immigration changes to help businesses in the state overcome workforce shortages and grow.

The nonpartisan not-for-profit, composed of 23 executives from some of Iowa’s biggest companies, released a list of seven immigration proposals following its third quarter meeting Wednesday.

These, members believe, will help grow and diversify the state’s population, a goal arising from the council’s 2019 competitive dashboard report, which among its findings indicated that only five states are less diverse than Iowa, with its 14.1 percent ethnic diversity.

“To ensure the Iowa economy continues to expand, we need to develop concrete steps to increase our population and skilled workforce,” said Mary Andringa, chairwoman of IBC and of Vermeer Corp.

“We believe our requests can garner bipartisan support and know that members of Congress can move them forward to create statewide economic stability and lay foundation for Iowa’s growth.”

Among the IBC’s proposed changes were:

• Meaningfully expand H-1B visas and exempt workers with degrees in needed fields from U.S. universities from the program’s annual cap.

• Offer work authorization provisions for spouses of certain H-1B workers, to compete with other countries that allow the authorizations.

• Simplify the H-1B processing program for employers with proven records of compliance

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• Speed up visa processing to eliminate the current backlog of approved employment certifications.

Beyond its immigration recommendations, the Iowa Business Council also advocated the “swift passage” of the United States-Mexico-Canada, or USMCA, trade agreement.

The IBC report can be see at https://www.iowabusinesscouncil.org/news/dashboard2019/

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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