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August 18th, 2010

Branstad Proposes Replacing Dysfunctional Department of Economic Development

Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today proposed scrapping the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) and replacing it with a new public/private partnership tasked with promoting and marketing Iowa to attract new investment and jobs, called the “Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress.”

The policy proposal can be found by clicking here.

Branstad says the IDED is dysfunctional and scandal-ridden.

“Our economic development professionals must think and act like customer service representatives who aggressively and proactively solve problems so Iowa can make the ‘sale’ to keep or create jobs,” said Branstad. “By converting IDED into a public-private partnership, the customer service mentality will permeate the system and we can offer prospective investors with a simple and efficient system. With nearly 114,000 Iowans out of work and an unemployment rate at a 24-year high, there is no greater priority for our chief executive than job creation.”

Branstad made the announcement as part of reaching his goal of creating 200,000 new jobs in Iowa. Previously, Branstad has stated that he will cut the corporate income tax in half, and reduce commercial property taxes, to help achieve this goal as well.

The new body will be led by a chief executive officer with a record of real world economic development success, will be governed by an independent board of directors, and chaired by the lieutenant governor.

“Only by reworking the bureaucratic structure of state government will we be able to eliminate redundancies and road blocks in our regulatory and economic development efforts,” Branstad continued. “To attract and retain business we must change the mindset of those charged with economic development and job creation.”

In addition to the new program, Branstad says we must reexamine the state’s “tool box” and review every current economic development program and incentive to determine what works, what is wasted and what new is needed.

“Our current tool box is an alphabet soup of programs that many find confusing and complex,” Branstad said.

He noted that the state lags behind in its online efforts, and this would be a major tool used to attract employers and to encourage expansion by existing businesses.

“Once we implement these major restructuring components, job creators will recognize that Iowa once again is, ‘Open for Business.’”

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