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GCVAC SETS 2013 CEDAR VALLEY LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR ECONOMIC PROGRESS

WATERLOO/CEDAR FALLS, IOWA (Jan., 2013) – The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber recently adopted the 2013 Cedar Valley Agenda for Economic Progress. Assembled by its Government Relations Committee, local economic development partners, and its staff team of the Alliance & Chamber, the Agenda, assembled annually, reflects the priority issues requiring action by the Iowa Legislature to advance the business and civic interests of the Cedar Valley economic area.

The five areas of focus are: (1) economic development programs and incentives, (2) talent and workforce development and recruitment, (3) improving Iowa’s tax climate, (4) education transformation, and (5) critical physical infrastructure.

“Our Iowa agenda is focused on business climate, competitiveness, and critical workforce issues, said Steve Firman, Director of Government Relations of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. “It’s also about making Iowa and the Cedar Valley more competitive and attractive for starting and expanding businesses of all sizes, and building a career,” Firman concludes.

The agenda was formally announced during a December 5th Pre-session Legislative Reception event for the Cedar Valley delegation of the Iowa legislature. The annual reception is traditionally co-sponsored by the Alliance & Chamber, Cedar Valley Manufacturers Associations, and REC of Butler-Bremer-Buchanan-Grundy Counties- each of which unveil their respective agendas for the session – and hosted by the Isle Casino Hotel – Waterloo. The legislators attending the event this year included: Sen. Bill Dix and Sen. Bill Dotzler, Rep. Pat Grassley, Rep. Sandy Salmon, Rep. Walt Rogers, and Rep. Bob Kressig.

The Government Relations Committee is chaired by Mike McCrary of Lincoln Savings Bank. The  Legislative Agenda can be accessed at the Alliance & Chamber Government Relations web page  Iowa Prosperity Project-Cedar Valley.

 

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic and community development organization focused on increasing economic vitality and improving the quality of life in the Cedar Valley economic region. Cedar Valley area business and community leaders created the Alliance to align economic development efforts and increase the region’s competitiveness in the global economy. Combined, the organization represents over 900 businesses with 50,000 employees.

 

GCVAC Encourages Legislators to Work Together for Economic Growth

 “The 2013 legislative session can do a great deal to promote economic growth, but the promise it holds can only be fulfilled if the policy makers work toward a shared goal of increasing economic growth, creating more well-paying jobs,” stated GCVAC CEO, Steve Dust in a recent Courier article. Dust, along with business leaders from across the state are optimistic about the amount of attention tax issues that effect business growth are getting from both sides of the isle. Read the entire artcle by ROD BOSHART, here.

Link Helps to Inform Voters

KWWL and the Quincy Broadcast Group are providing a free opportunity to qualified candidates for major office to share their message on television and/or their website in advance of the November 2012 General Election. The site also helps users identify their district and the candidates seeking office in their district. http://www.kwwl.com/category/247346/candidates-and-issues

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber sets date for Pre- Legislative Reception

The GCVAC Government Relations Committee, chaired by Mike McCrary, Lincoln Savings Bank, and GCVAC Director of Director of Government Relations Steve Firman have set December 5th, 2012 as the date for the Cedar Valley Pre- Legislative Reception. The event will take place at the Isle Casino and Hotel Waterloo, 77 Isle of Capri Blvd., at 4:30 pm.

The Pre-Session Legislative Reception is a two hour meet and mingle with area leaders from across the Cedar Valley region. Only brief introductions of the legislators in attendance, along with brief comments from each sponsor, make up the program. All area senators and representatives are invited. Investors/members should attend to indicate broad-based support for pro-market, pro-business policies and the projects and programs that will make the Cedar Valley an even better place to live and operate a business.

Sponsors for the event are the Cedar Valley Manufacturers Association, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, and the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

More information and registration can be found here.

Legislative Update

Due to  myriad scheduling problems brought on by the relatively late date for ending the 2012 Legislative Session, the Alliance & Chamber decided not to hold our planned Post-Session Legislative Forum Breakfast.  In lieu of our breakfast, we sent two questions to all the members, eight in total, of our Cedar Valley Legislative delegation.  We received two responses and sent follow-up reminders to the other six area Legislators.  We believed their answers to each question would be of interest to you. Please take a few moments to review the answers given by Representative Bob Kressig and Senator Jeff Danielson below.  If we receive other responses, we will share them with you.

Thank you for your interest and support of our GCVAC Government Relations program.

Steve Firman, Director of Government Relations
Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

 

Representative Bob Kressig

1. What observations would you share regarding this year’s Legislative activity and its impact on the business community in Iowa?

When the 2012 session began, our top priority was to work together to find common ground and create jobs to grow Iowa’s economy. While there is simply too much partisanship and focus on divisive issues today, we did make good progress this year when we put politics aside and worked together.

First, we took action to help Iowa businesses expand and find skilled workers. A new high quality jobs initiative will help businesses expand while encouraging new businesses to locate in Iowa. We continued the innovation fund to commercialize research at our universities and continued key initiatives at UNI to help entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Second, we took significant steps to build a skilled workforce for Iowa businesses. We expanded training at our community colleges and kept tuition affordable for middle class families. We created new tuition grants for students to fill job openings in shortage areas where businesses are looking for workers and kept local workforce centers open to help Iowans get training or find a job. We also took action to help under-employed Iowans who want to upgrade their skills get the training they need.

2. What issues do you plan to focus on during the campaign season and into next year’s session?

My top priorities remain growing our economy and a skilled workforce. With a skilled worker shortage on the horizon, the state must do more to help businesses get skilled workers who can compete with workers from around the globe. With most jobs now requiring some education or training beyond high school, we have to improve education from pre-school through high school and keep tuition affordable at Hawkeye Community College and UNI.

I’ll continue to work to find common ground on several bills to help businesses that did not become law this year. Despite months of negotiations and $350 million on the table, the Legislature was unable to reach a final agreement on commercial property tax relief. I also supported other initiatives designed to grow our economy including: giving Iowa businesses first preference on state and local government contracts instead of sending our tax dollars out of state; leveling the playing field for small businesses on Main Street; helping local communities revitalize business districts and industrial parks; and encouraging more wind energy production. I’m hopeful we can find common ground on these initiatives next year.

 

Senator Jeff Danielson

1. What observations would you share regarding this year’s Legislative activity and its impact on the business community in Iowa?

One year does not an economy make. Iowa’s economy is performing better than most other states because we’ve cut state government costs beginning in 2009 and we’ve enjoyed a healthy agricultural export sector. Both have worked together to ensure a stable and positive business climate as evidenced by Iowa continuing to receive high marks from multiple sources for it’s efforts, including a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report placing Iowa in the top ten. As a result, Iowa has a balanced budget with a healthy surplus; in fact the largest since the early 1980’s and a lower unemployment rate than the national average. For these reasons, I’m proud of our efforts to encourage job growth and wealth creation during one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. Considering Iowa also suffered its worst natural disaster in 2008, ranked #1 as measured by real dollar damage, the current “State of the State” is even more impressive.

2. What issues do you plan to focus on during the campaign season and into next year’s session?

Economies compete for capital investment, business location and customer base. No state can rest on its laurels and Iowa is no different. I will remain focused on pro-growth, progressive ideas that put Iowa in the best position to keep the businesses it already has, expand them and attract new businesses with responsible, sustainable incentives.

My top five job creation ideas are:

1. Lowering commercial property taxes (without shifting the burden to homeowners).

2. Protecting the ability of cities to use tax increment financing (TIF).

3. Funding Iowa Department of Economic Development initiatives (Debi Durham needs resources to leverage partnerships for business location decisions).

4. Supporting the Innovation Council to implement Battelle study ideas for growing Iowa jobs in advanced manufacturing, information solutions and value-added agriculture.

5. Investing in and improving education at every level, including job training at Community Colleges, increasing rigor, relevance and outcomes in local pre-K-12 schools and keeping tuition affordable at Universities, public and private.


I encourage Alliance Members to contact me directly anytime at 319-231-7192 or jeffdanielson@gmail.com. I work for you!

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Legislative Update of GCVAC/ICA

Eight weeks have passed this session.  The first funnel is behind us.  The Legislature has begun to focus on budget bills and cleaning up their debate calendars by moving smaller bills on the floor.  Often at this point in the session, some political distractions come into play.  This week that was very true.

In a dispute over how much notice was given prior to floor votes on a pair of gun laws, the House Democrats decided to leave the building in protest.  They were only gone for a few hours and business resumed later that day (the bills passed, but face an uncertain future in the Senate), but the spectacle did underscore some partisan tensions that have been simmering under the surface.  When one party has decisive control of a chamber (as is true in the House with Republicans holding 60 seats to the Democrats’ 40), it can be a frustrating experience to the minority party.  Sometimes those frustrations spill out into the public.  It’s a good reminder that partisan politics are unavoidable at the Capitol.

Otherwise, the most movement in the legislature was arguably the House passing three budget bills, including the appropriation for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  There is some movement on the level of funding for economic development incentives in the House – they’re at the $10 million mark.  The Senate will likely come in with $20-25 million, with about $5 million flowing through to other programs.  The Alliance & Chamber strongly supports the $25 million request by the Governor to properly equip the new Iowa Economic Development Authority with the resources it needs to help Iowa compete for new development.

Tax Increment Financing continues to be discussed in the House, with the dialogue beginning to focus on time limits for TIF districts, further transparency and auditing of TIFs, and anti-piracy policies.  The Senate passed a shell bill to keep its TIF legislation alive through the funnel.  The House Ways & Means Subcommittee continues to meet and has indicated TIF would follow property tax reform action.

There were no material developments on the property tax front this week.  The Alliance continues to press for action on the issue in the Senate so that a meaningful compromise can be achieved yet this session.

As the session rolls on, it is imperative that legislators hear from the business community.  It is our responsibility to be fierce advocates for polices that promote economic growth.  This year, we have to play offense (property taxes & economic development incentives) and defense (TIF – and economic development incentives!).  Please make sure to take time this week to let your legislators know how critically important these issues are for Iowa’s economic progress.

For more information, please contact Steve Firman at SFirman@CedarValleyAlliance.com or 319- 239-6067.

View original article source by clicking here.

Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees