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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.

Industry Update: Tama County local retail and service income outperforming the State?

National Bureau of Economic Research reported last month that the recession began in December 2007, and officially ended in June 2009. Tama County’s local taxable retail and service sales models this (on a shortened timeline), and shows that FY 2010 income levels have returned to $72-73 million where it was 5 years ago (1). Other economic indicators like unemployment have suggested that Iowa is outperforming the US as the geographical middle of a national recession, now we see that Tama County’s local retail and service income % changes are outperforming the state on some dimensions (after adjusting for outlier volatility in the city of Tama market). So how do we proactively shape this future income with resources under our control in Tama County?

When it comes to local sales and services income, each of our towns have decided to enter into a partnership where the local community technically has a 1% share in every local retail and service sector transaction. We call it the local option sales tax. And each community decides for themselves how they want to reinvest and grow income on this 1% ownership share. Here are three examples of how our towns are proactively investing to strengthen/stabilize our local retail and service sector.

  1. INVESTING IN SHARED COMMERCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE & BEAUTIFICATION: Examples of towns with especially successful reinvestment strategies would be Dysart and Traer where there is a noticeable investment in the commercial district infrastructure and beautification to enhance the local shopping experience, encouraging gatherings at commercial establishments, stimulating consumers to spend more time and money at the local businesses. Using this strategy, the public sector also grows the fund size so that other indirect projects like quality of life ventures can be tackled.
  2. INVESTING IN SHARED WAY FINDING SIGNS & OUT OF COUNTY MARKETING: Awareness for available products and services in a community is important, and bringing dollars in from outside the community is an especially powerful economic accelerant. Examples of our exceptional communities bringing dollars from outside the county by the busload include Meskwaki, Dysart, GladbrookMontour, and Traer. Chelsea, Elberon, Garwin and Vining are examples of some of our smallest towns recognizing that a town investing as little as $75 for two years in strategic projects keeps their communities under consideration not only for out of market retail and service sales, but also for home buyers which have backwards and forward linking impacts on the local retail and service economy.
  3. INVESTMENT IN ATTRACTING NEW COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT: Entrepreneurship activity in Tama County is at a record high this year. Making it easy for entrepreneurs to recognize and act on commercial opportunities that are being missed and identifying clusters of market need can also exponentially benefit a community’s local retail and service income. Dysart, Toledo, and Traer are examples where commercial real estate assets are proactively marketed to stimulate new investment to ultimately lead to increase in number of businesses and retail and service sector sales.


(1) Iowa Department of Revenue, For year ending March 31, 2010


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