On January 3, 2014, business, community and elected leaders joined by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman commemorated the formation of a two-state, regional economic development organization — an unprecedented collaboration between southwest Iowa and southeast Nebraska.
Advance Southwest Iowa, a public-private partnership of the City of Council Bluffs, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, Iowa West Foundation, Pottawattamie County and the Western Iowa Development Association, formally joined the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership on that day, but nearly a year’s worth of hard work and careful consideration went into making this defining moment possible.
Over the past year, the Iowa West Foundation helped convene meetings with the four other southwest Iowa groups. The groups agreed on the concept of regional cooperation and eventually created a new group to make it work: Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation.
The partners recognized that we are a ‘community of communities’ in Iowa and Nebraska and that the region’s economic development potential for success is enhanced through cooperation.
The Iowa West Foundation has awarded a grant of $2.2 million over the next five years to support the work of economic development both through the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce and the new regional partnership.
A “one-stop center for economic development needs,” the expanded, two-state Partnership is now set to implement an intensive, five-year regional economic development program that will include:
• Creating, growing and recruiting businesses and jobs in southeast Nebraska-southwest Iowa
• Establishing a well-recognized brand and image for the entire region
• Creating a business climate that is conducive to growth
• Retaining and recruiting the workforce of the region’s future
This is an important step for the success of economic development in the region. The growth and success of our communities are interconnected — increasingly so as we look to compete in a global economy. Through this groundbreaking partnership, we can better leverage Pottawattamie County’s many assets.