PDI Legislative Agenda

2019 Legislative Agenda 

Downloads: 2019 Legislative Priorities (Complete)
2019 PDI Legislative Priorities Talking Points (PDI Members only)

Priority Issues that should be addressed in the upcoming session

Economic Development Environment
Our members passionately support continuation of business tax credits such as the research activities credit and the High Quality Jobs Program, and stand against further restrictions on Tax Increment Financing, which are among the few economic development tools available to communities competing for jobs against neighboring states.

Workforce Recruitment and Retention
While sustaining support for Home Base Iowa, ABI’s Elevate Iowa, career technical education programs, and Future Ready Iowa, the Governor and Legislature should explore other means of recruiting and retaining workers. These may include programs targeting specific professions, student loan forgiveness, income tax rebates, credits or deductions on student loan debt, and other incentives to keep people in Iowa and drive population growth. Recruitment efforts should be coordinated with economic development organizations throughout the state, much like business recruitment efforts have been for several decades.

 Water Quality
Water quality in Iowa must be improved for both the health and enjoyment of future generations. Any water quality solution that does not enhance quality of life and thereby fails to address Iowa’s critical workforce challenge will be a huge wasted opportunity. Lawmakers are responsible for ensuring that funding for water quality and conservation enhancements benefit all Iowans. Within the vigorous discussion about water quality, the Governor and Legislature should also address the critical need for funding for local infrastructure.

Further actions the Governor and Legislature should pursue in an effort to
drive job creation and wealth in Iowa.

Economic Development Environment
The basic building blocks of economic development consist of the business environment we have to market combined with the tools available to pursue and bring a project to fruition.  Last year’s efforts to simplify corporate income taxes and eliminate federal deductibility were both huge steps forward for PDI members charged with marketing the State.  Going forward, maintaining the tools we need to recruit and retain businesses will be critically important. 

State Economic Development Resources ‐ Growth in jobs and wealth in Iowa is directly related to the reliability and sustainability of resources for use by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Iowa Workforce Development. After many years without an upward adjustment in their budgets to support salary increases, both departments last year endured substantial funding cuts. To grow Iowa’s economy, we should devote MORE resources to these departments, not force them to lay off employees.

 Tax Increment Financing – Local governments rely on the flexibility of TIF to address community growth challenges, from workforce and housing shortages, to aging infrastructure, to redevelopment, to partnering with the State. PDI supports TIF and opposes efforts to weaken this important and flexible local economic development tool. TIF reporting requirements adopted by the legislature in 2012 provide the public sufficient information about local use of TIF.

Workforce/Housing/Workforce Housing
The most significant impediments to economic growth in Iowa are a tight labor market and inadequate housing. Together these challenges perpetuate a cycle: businesses choose not to locate in areas of Iowa due to insufficient numbers of workers and a shortage of housing. In turn, communities are unable to build housing or draw new residents because of a lack of jobs.  Solving the problem will require action on multiple fronts:

Workforce Housing Tax Credit – With workforce and housing being two of the biggest issues facing our business, industry, and communities, the demand for this program continues to be very high, repeatedly surpassing the available annual funding.  Therefore, the annual appropriation for these credits should be raised to $40 million, and the credits should no longer count against the state’s business tax credit limit. The program also should transition to a competitive process, which will allow the best projects to be funded based on their merit and impact.

Recent legislative actions to create a component of the program specifically assisting rural communities is a great step forward, but unfortunately the funding for the new component was drawn from the existing program, thereby reducing money available to larger communities in need. More resources for both the rural component and the overall program are critical.

Workforce Recruitment and Retention
While sustaining support for Home Base Iowa, ABI’s Elevate Iowa, career technical education programs, and Future Ready Iowa, the Governor and Legislature should explore other means of recruiting and retaining workers. These may include programs targeting specific professions, student loan forgiveness, income tax rebates, credits or deductions on student loan debt, and other incentives to keep people in Iowa and drive population growth. Recruitment efforts should be coordinated with economic development organizations throughout the state, much like business recruitment efforts have been for several decades.

Workforce Training – Ensuring access to innovative training programs and practices responsive to a rapidly changing workplace requires both adequate state funding and proper alignment of services. We look forward to the implementation of Future Ready Iowa and the Career and Technical Education bill from the previous two sessions, a significant milestone for Iowa.

 Brownfield & Grayfield – Given the tremendous power of the Brownfield & Grayfield program to encourage redevelopment in aged or blighted areas, the amount of credits available annually should be increased from its current level of $10 million. The program has been vastly oversubscribed in the last 5 years, which has an immediate and substantive impact on communities across Iowa.

 The Governor and Legislature should explore means of assisting communities in redeveloping abandoned buildings, potentially as housing as well. the Community Catalyst Building Remediation and Nuisance Property and Abandoned Building Remediation Loan Program are making a positive impact, but current programs at IEDA and IDNR should be evaluated to gauge how the programs can be best leveraged to have the greatest impact statewide.

Immigration
With the second lowest state unemployment rate in the nation, Iowa needs to increase its population and available workforce by any legal means possible. Though there are many options to address this issue, immigration is one that can have a major impact in the near-term.

As economic developers, immigration is both an economic and a workforce issue. In 2016, immigrants in Iowa paid $891.6 million in taxes and had a combined $2.9 billion in spending power. Of the nearly 162,000 immigrants in Iowa, 70% are working age (18-64), compared to less than 50% of the native-born population. Immigrants are also 18% more likely to work than native-born Iowans. Immigrants have played a key role in Iowa’s moderate population growth since 2000, and we need to attract and retain them while adhering to immigration law. (Data from https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/locations/iowa/ and https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/nae-ia-report.pdf).

Therefore, the Professional Developers of Iowa support increased opportunities for a skilled workforce and immigrant entrepreneurs balanced with needed reforms to modernize the E-verify system. Other reform priorities include streamlining the processes for highly skilled workers, raising the cap on H1-B visas, improving international student retention through use of work visas, and allowing employers to more easily recruit immigrant workers to fill labor needs as shortages arise (Data from https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/locations/iowa/ and https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/nae-ia-report.pdf).

Equally important are the entrepreneurial immigrants who continue to start new businesses at a higher rate than non-immigrants. Companies owned by Iowa’s 9,700 immigrant entrepreneurs employ 25,400 Iowans, and create a combined total business income of $181.5 million. Of the Fortune 500 companies based in Iowa, 50% were founded by immigrants or their children. (Data from https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/locations/iowa/ and https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/nae-ia-report.pdf).

As small business development and entrepreneurship increases throughout the state, immigrants are playing a critical role in their expansion. We need to make it easier for innovators and makers to create, grow, and keep their business in Iowa.

Enhance Iowa – Trails, parks and other quality‐of‐life amenities draw workers and businesses, yet last year the Legislature passed the Enhance Iowa legislation without funding. The Governor and Legislature should build on last year’s bill by establishing a funding mechanism for this program.

School Funding – School funding bears heavily on the state budget; however, annual delays in setting allowable funding increases are damaging to schools and the entire education system. Legislators are urged to resolve the funding debate early in the Session and to strive for a less politicized process.

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Support – Direct technical assistance to entrepreneurs and start‐up companies is a key component to growing Iowa’s economy. The Legislature should provide adequate funding for small business development and economic gardening programs to foster entrepreneurial endeavors.

For More Information Contact:
Kelly Halsted, Legislative Committee Co‐Chair – 515-955‐8909; kelly@greaterfortdodge.com Drew Kamp, Legislative Committee Co‐Chair – 515-232‐2310; drew@ameschamber.com
Nick Glew, Legislative Committee Co-Chair - 319-743-4724; nick@medcoiowa.org
Amy Campbell, Lobbyist – 515-554‐5838; Amy@IALobby.com
Craig Patterson, Lobbyist – 515-554‐7920; Craig@IALobby.com

Professional Developers of Iowa ‐ growing Iowa and creating economic opportunity.