Supervisors Review Quarterly Economic Development Report
A briefing on the quarterly activities of the Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation was resented to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors at the April 17 meeting of the board. PACEDC Executive Director Maureen Elbert and President Kris Ausborn were in attendance to update the Supervisors.
Maureen Elbert shared that PACEDC has been focusing on leadership in Palo Alto County and has solidified some training for area businesses.
“This training isn’t just for business people but for public service and retail, too,” said Elbert. “We’ll be doing a series of three classes with Brenda Clark Hamilton.”
Among the class titles are “Bring Your ‘A’ Game” (focusing on professional development), “Customer Service Training,” and “Generational Differences.”
Elbert went on to explain that she had been on a recent tour of the former Skyjack building with a local realtor.
“The building has really been cleaned-up and painted, and the ceiling tiles have been replaced,” said Elbert.
Elbert related that Debi Durham, head of Iowa Department of Economic Development, visited the Skyjack building , as well.
“Having her here is important,” Elbert noted.
Kris Ausborn added, “It’s impressive how well Palo Alto County is doing. We always seem to focus on the negative.”
Elbert shared that PACEDC’s regional group is looking at doing more marketing and studies.
“The state wants us to do a nine-county career fair, but we’re hoping that we can piggy back on our community college career fairs,” said Elbert. “They are so successful with those events. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”
“We had a great meeting for city clerks on Junk and Nuisance ordinances,” Elbert explained. “It was the longest meeting we’ve had.”
She also related that interested persons (city, county, and private employees who handle money) will have the opportunity to learn about embezzlement issues with Iowa State Auditor Dave Vaudt. Vaudt will speak at Wild Rose Casino on June 29. Reservations are being taken by contacting the PACEDC Office by June 8.
“We’re really working with some existing businesses,” summarized Elbert. “Eighty-five percent of our business is retention, and the dynamics of rural America is changing. We don’t promote the positive enough and let the negative take over.”
Elbert said that rural Iowa has had a “slow bleed” of population loss since the 1920s and no one has paid attention to this growing problem.
“The large families no longer exist and the kids just aren’t coming back to the family farm,” said Elbert. “We have a very limited leadership pool anymore and we have to look at how we can encourage small business development.”
Elbert continued, “It has really changed. We aren’t just promoting Palo Alto County anymore. We’re promoting the area. You can live in Fenton, Iowa, and have a job in Palo Alto County.”
“Fifty-percent of the people who live in the county drive out of the county to work,” added Kris Ausborn. “You know that same amount is driving into the county to work, too.”
Finally, the Supervisors inquired if quarterly reports from PACEDC were necessitated or if biannual updates were more in line. Both Elbert and Ausborn agreed that switching to reporting on activities just twice a year would suffice.
In other business, the Supervisors approved the hiring of Daniel Grignon as Land Surveyor/Assistant to the Engineer. Grignon, a Michigan native, will begin work in the Engineer’s Office on May 29, with a starting salary of $31 per hour. Grignon is married with four children.
“We made Daniel Grignon an offer and he accepted,” said Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz. “I am very pleased, and I?thank the supervisors for their help with conducting the interviews. Daniel and his family will be nice additions to the community.”