CLINTON — Ways of expanding economic growth in the community were discussed Wednesday during the the Clinton Regional Development Corporation’s 60th anniversary celebration.
Exiting CRDC Chairman Rich Phelan said the spring of 2012 was a time of renewal at the CRDC, ushering in a lot of activity in the past year. January saw the departure of Steve Ames as chief executive officer.
Phelan remembered an eventful day in March that included the announcement of an expansion for Data Dimensions, as well as the purchase of railport land by Nevada Rail Materials and RAIL.ONE. This development meant the addition of around 200 jobs.
“And so to say it was a busy year in 2013 would be an understatement,” Phelan said.
Keynote Speakers Jeff Finkle and Bill Fruth discussed recent changes in economic development and how to positively affect Clinton’s economy. Finkle serves as president of the International Economic Development Council and previously served as deputy assistant secretary within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He explained some of the challenges to economic development.
Besides the recent recession, Finkle said some main challenges are an increase in natural and manmade disasters and globalization. While he said globalization can be a benefit to companies, it can take jobs away from the local communities.
Finkle told the CRDC that currently 11.5 million people remain unemployed, an improvement from the 14 million of two years ago. A total of 4.2 million remain as long-term unemployed. However, Finkle said that despite good or bad years, the state of Iowa typically has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
“Iowa continues to stun us,” Finkle said.
During an economic study presentation, Bill Fruth, president/CEO of the independent economics research firm POLICOM, Corp., said Clinton is listed as the 105th best micropolitan area out of 576 in Iowa and rising. Looking at the community’s employment numbers and wages, he said Clinton is seeing an increase in both categories. This is at a time when many other areas are “going straight down.”