PDI Blog

And we call it PDI because... a long look back!

In 1973 the incorporation of the Iowa Professional Developers (IPD) was a formalization of what had previously been a quasi-professional/social group of what were known then as industrial developers.  Its membership was comprised of primarily employees of the state development commission, utility and railroad companies (there were many more of those organizations at that time) and some full time community developers.In 1973 the incorporation of the Iowa Professional Developers (IPD) was a formalization of what had previously been a quasi-professional/social group of what were known then as industrial developers.  Its membership was comprised of primarily employees of the state development commission, utility and railroad companies (there were many more of those organizations at that time) and some full time community developers.

 Most of these folks were “self-taught” and almost exclusively male.  The IPD conferences at this time were comprised of golf, poker, relationship building and some educational programs.

 With the election of David Selene as IPD President in 1987 (then the community developer in Red Oak and currently a banker in Council Bluffs) a two day facilitated board retreat at Lake Panorama (yes, there was some golf) resulted in the first detailed Program of Work for the organization.  That effort provided focus and direction for the organization. 

With a lesser membership it was possible to hold statewide conferences in smaller communities with limited motel accommodations and meeting facilities such as StormLake and Boone.  One location featured a convenient watering hole located across the motel parking lot whose owner changed the opening hours to accommodate the needs of conference attendees.  Another conference was located in a motel undergoing a long overdue remodeling and resulted in a pool area decorated with mattresses and box springs.  

On several occasions the prerequisite fall conference golf outing was snowed out and in one instance an early taste of winter resulted in snow filtering in under attendee’s motel room doors that faced the motel parking lot.

Moving forward, a few details were neglected but the organization began to find its footing, adding members (after the board, on a close vote, modified what had previously been a restrictive membership eligibility requirement).  IPD increased its budget and hired its first management firm (State Public Policy Group, with Tom Slater as Executive Director). 

Membership growth mirrored the dramatic increase in the number of economic development positions created in the state because in part a result of the greatly depressed ag economy.  Plus increased visibility as pertained to economic development policies and opportunities throughout the state caused a realization by the board that all of the affairs of the organization needed to be in proper order including its tax status.

Rather than attempt to recreate a number of past year tax filings it was determined to be a better course of action to establish a new organization.  At the last annual meeting of IPD in 1989 the membership approved actions necessary to recreate the organization as the Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI) which continues to this day.

Highlights of early IPD and PDI conferences included Hawaiian nights (with limbo contests), member Karaoke nights along with much more professional entertainment of a variety of types. 

-By Don Chaplain (retired), PDI President 1988

Written by Don Chaplain
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