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Through collaborative leadership we supplied a pipeline of $812 million in new capital investment projects to strengthen and diversify the assets in Iowa. But beyond big number private-sector prospects we also work with the progressive small businesses, nonprofits, civic leaders, workforce, education institutions, utilities, transportation, housing, etc to maximize productivity and long-term prosperity in our evolving economic landscape.

Manufacturing Update: Welcome to the New Economy

Question: How is it possible for US industry to be growing by the billions, while the number of US manufacturing workers have been decreasing by millions over the past three decades?

ANSWER: In a nutshell: innovation. Over the past 30 years technology improved, workforce skills and training improved, and operational management improved. That meant industry was able to gradually decrease their workforce while increasing wages for workers who adapted best to a plant’s new money saving technology and processes.

The good news is that this change in the economy is increasing the value and (theoretical) wage of the skilled worker at the local manufacturing plant. The bad news is that a worker is less likely to secure that coveted, stable manufacturing job today than 30 years ago because the number of manufacturing jobs have been steadily decreasing.  The decrease we are talking about here is thus not due to an anomaly like a recession, nor to offshore outsourcing. Its because of the good old fashioned American ability to recognize and optimize new efficiency resources in the marketplace.

This is but one of the reasons old business models embracing paradigms of bigger is better, the superiority of top-down bureaucratic organizational structures, and the strong focus on products, are being replaced. An ever-changing marketplace requires new focus on building organizations, which are more agile, decentralized, interactive and adaptive with a strong emphasis on attracting and retaining intellectual and human capital. New perspectives and innovative approaches are required—by businesses and by communities—hoping to attract and retain the best and brightest in business and industry.

That means the old school smokestack focused economic development approach has also been replaced by dynamic partnerships that often includes both the public and private sector.

Today Tama County Economic Development Commission defines our mission as a pioneering, evolving process, which engages the entire county in building the context and products necessary to attract and retain businesses and the labor force needed to ensure an economic foundation that will sustain the desired quality of life for all community members.


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