IBC competative index shows little progress

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February 1st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The “Iowa Competitiveness Index” compiled by a group of the state’s largest businesses shows no change in four of the five measures of the state’s economic outlook, and the fifth moved from “improving” to “no significant progress.” Iowa Business Council executive director, Elliott Smith, says the results show an economy that’s idling in place.  “We’re really at this juncture seeing no significant changes. We’re kind of stuck in an area where there may be efforts underway and we are making some progress, but relative to all the states, were not seeing to consider ourselves out ahead of the curve in most respects,” Smith explained. The index looks at: economic growth, education and workforce readiness, governance and fiscal matters, health and well being, and workforce demographics and diversity. While there’s not much movement in the index, Smith says it’s not an indictment of the total system.

He says there are some good things in workforce education and readiness in terms of A-C-T scores and the percentage of the population that’s getting a high school degree. “But on the other hand the percentage of our population that’s getting bachelor’s degree is quite low,” Smith says. “And those are the sort of things that employers are concerned about.” While the index shows things aren’t changing, there are efforts underway to try and make some changes — such as the governor’s education reform plan. “We’re supportive of the efforts by the governor and the legislature to make progress in that area, it seems as though that’s always just a very hard area to affect any significant change,” Smith says. He says the I-B-C is hopeful the effort to improve the reading ability of third graders succeeds along with the effort to get more students more proficient in science and math. “That’s going to be critical,” he says. Smith says the I-B-C wants to keep the focus on the need to improve.

“We’ve identified some of the problems, there are some initiatives out there which have just sort of launched and we’re anxious to see how early results go, the healthiest states initiative being one of those,” Smith says. “It’s good to just try and create an awareness right now.” You can see the complete index on the I-B-C website at: www.iowabusinesscouncil.org. The Iowa Business Council’s 24 members are the top executives of 20 of the largest businesses in the state, the three state university presidents, and Iowa’s largest banking association.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)