PDI Blog

President's Message - May 24

PDI Presents Five Business Retention Awards during SMART Conference

Following PDI's incredibly successful How2 Spring Conference, PDI presented the Business Retention Awards on May 9 during the SMART Conference. There were three award categories:

  • Overall BRE Program
  • Single Project Success
  • New this year, Special Recognition to an organization that has overcome a significant event

The Overall BRE Program Award recognizes a community or region that has implemented a successful BRE initiative for their area. Criteria used to select the winners were: the success of communicating the program, improvements to the business climate, and measurable results and outcomes. We have two award winners in this category:

Lee County Economic Development Group


Grow Lee is a collaborative effort spearheaded and facilitated by Lee County Economic Development Group to create bold ideas and action plans for their future workforce needs. The organization created the 12 Plus program to be led by local industry to provide STEM and career exploration opportunities for Lee County residents and students. It includes employability classes, student team projects for local industry, industry tours and more. The program affected over 3,700 students last year and is projected reach over 4,000 this year.

Kossuth/Palo Alto Economic Development


Kossuth/Palo Alto EDC has a comprehensive BRE program that conducted 167 BRE Visits last year. The program includes an annual Business Survey, Business Call Visits, Economic Impact Snapshot, Intern Programs, Human Resources Networking Committee, and Palo Alto County Leadership that are all critical programs and committees that address workforce issues to keep the region viable and assist with growing the workforce and future leadership pool.

Single Business Retention and Expansion Project Category recognizes a single event or issue in which a community successfully mobilized to retain or expand an existing business. Consideration was given to the process of identifying the opportunity, collaboration with local, regional and/or state partners and the ability to respond quickly. Two awards were given in this category.

Decatur County Development Corporation for the Freedom Racing Tool and Auto project


Freedom Racing Tool and Auto was established in 2010 in Lamoni and is an industry leading e-commerce business that sells new and pre-owned automotive specialty tools. The company was experiencing rapid growth going from three to 29 employees, leading them to look for locations to expand. Freedom Racing was recruited by communities in Missouri, but the Decatur County Development Corporation teamed with multiple local partners in the community to put together a great package to keep them home in Lamoni by helping them build and expand their facilities to meet their needs.

The Ames Economic Development Commission and The City of Nevada for the Burke Corporation/Hormel expansion project


The City of Nevada partnered with Ames Economic Development Corporation to retain the communities' largest employer, Burke Corporation, with a $150 million expansion creating 250 new jobs. Ames Economic Development Corporation and the City of Nevada worked with community partners to secure a competitive incentive package, address road infrastructure needs, demonstrate the available workforce, and mitigate wastewater concerns that both Burke and the City of Nevada had. Ultimately the company chose to locate in Nevada over competition from all the rest of the Hormel owned facilities in the US.

This past year several of our communities experienced natural disasters that caused significant damage and severely threatened the existence of the businesses in those areas. PDI would like to provide Special Recognition to Marshall Economic Development for the creation of the Disaster Relief Microloan Programand the work they are doing to help those businesses in this difficult time.


The devastating tornado hit on July 19, 2018, the downtown business district and nearby commercial/industrial area was hit especially hard. Many businesses needed access to flexible capital as a bridge until operations and revenues could be returned to normal levels. Within six weeks Marshalltown Economic Development, Consumers Energy, and Heart of Iowa Communications Cooperative created a $340,000 fund. This provides interest-free microloans up to $10,000 to established Marshalltown businesses affected by the tornado to help with short-term capital needs necessary to recover. The three organizations, with assistance from Iowa Area Development Group, secured a special provision from the USDA enabling them to utilize their RLF funds to support the Program. The program has assisted 21 companies to date, with loans to businesses totaling $197,000. 

Congratulations to all our award winners!

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