Trade concerns only impediment to Iowa's growthDecember 06, 2018
Two top state officials Thursday pointed to the uncertainty caused by international trade talks and the depressed farm commodity prices associated with them as the main factors currently preventing Iowa’s economy from achieving its growth potential.
Escalating costs, lost market share and declining exports associated with tariffs and trade-war talk between President Donald Trump and other nations are the major cloud in an otherwise optimistic economic outlook, according to Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
“We need to work through this trade thing because I think that’s the only thing that is holding us back,” Durham told those at the Iowa Taxpayers Association annual meeting. “This is the one that keeps me up at night.”
Durham delivered an upbeat message that Iowa has a number of opportunities that it can capitalize on in areas of biochemicals, medical-device manufacturing, educational technology and sustainable energy to create new “economic platforms” that will promote growth in jobs and income.
Some impediments that need addressing are a shortage of skilled workers and rural broadband, aging housing stock and quality-of-life amenities that will make communities more attractive to companies and young people.
“We are a manufacturing powerhouse, and we’re seeing that coming back,” Durham said. “There are some ‘but fors’ that could stall some of that growth,” but she said she believes proposals dealing with housing and broadband rural connectivity issues — included in a soon-to-be-released Empower Rural Iowa initiative — may help address problem areas.
Durham credited the rise of microbreweries, distilleries and rural areas building tourism activities as a good starting point in addressing quality-of-life concerns.