Business, community and elected leaders joined Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in commemorating the formation of a two-state, regional economic development organization, an unprecedented collaboration between southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa.
Advance Southwest Iowa, a recently-established public-private partnership of the City of Council Bluffs, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, Iowa West Foundation, Pottawattamie County and the Western Iowa Development Association, formally joined the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership today.
The Partnership began more than 20 years ago to create jobs, encourage capital investment and drive growth of the region's economy. Current membership, in addition to Advance Southwest Iowa, includes:
Greater Omaha Chamber and City of Omaha (Douglas County)
Cass County Nebraska Economic Development Council
Gateway Development Corporation (Washington County)
Greater Fremont Development Council (Dodge County)
Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation
"We welcome Advance Southwest Iowa, a new, vital partnership in this increasingly global, competitive landscape," said David G. Brown, president and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber. "This unique, multi-county coalition now allows us to better leverage our region's many assets and offer our prospective companies and clients a wider range of business, talent and investment options."
"This collaboration with the Partnership is a strategic move that will prove beneficial to Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County and throughout the metro area," said Sharon White, Advance Southwest Iowa president and Council Bluffs City Council member. "Joining the Partnership is about greater exposure and more business leads resulting in jobs and investment for the region."
"A strong regional economy benefits both Nebraska and Iowa. We are both on the move and we want to do even better in the future," said Gov. Dave Heineman. "One of the most exciting parts of this announcement is that the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership will now provide inquiring companies and clients with more choices. Prospective businesses will be able to determine which options best meet their needs and a Nebraska-Iowa work force that will help them grow."
"There is a national trend throughout the U.S. towards building strong, mutually-beneficial regional economic development partnerships, said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. "This type of regional approach will give us more clout on the national scene and help bring more jobs to southwest Iowa."
The Partnership is funded by public and private investors throughout the region. The Iowa West Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the Midwest, was a key player in the development of the two-state collaboration. Headquartered in Council Bluffs, the Foundation announced its financial support for the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership today.
"This is an important step for the success of economic development in the region," said Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. "Our foundation served as a convener of the Iowa partners to begin the dialogue on the regional economic development effort. The partners recognized that we are a "community of communities' in Iowa and Nebraska and that the region's economic development potential for success is enhanced through cooperation. The Iowa West Foundation has awarded a grant of $2.2 million over the next five years to support the work of economic development both through the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce and the new regional partnership."
A "one-stop center for economic development needs," the expanded, two-state Partnership is now set to implement an intensive, five year regional economic development program that will include:
Creating, growing and recruiting businesses and jobs in southeast Nebraska-southwest Iowa
Establishing a well-recognized brand and image for the entire region
Creating a business climate that is conducive to growth
Retaining and recruiting the workforce of the region's future
"This is an exciting opportunity to establish a well-recognized brand and image for the entire region," said Steve Seline, chairman, Greater Omaha Chamber board of directors, and a Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership representative. "With today's announcement, the Greater Omaha brand does not stop at the state line."
"The Iowa coalition inquired about joining the Partnership in early 2013 after observing the successes and synergies of communities positively working together as an economic development region," said Bob Mundt, president and CEO, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce. "It is my belief that we as the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership can "accomplish more -- together'."
In early December, J. Mac Holladay, CEO of Market Street Services, a nationally-recognized provider of strategic economic development planning services, said the new, two-state partnership is in a position to break ground with its joint focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, business retention and expansion, and talent recruitment. "No two-state regional program is working on all three areas," Holladay said.
Advance Southwest Iowa has hired Mike Dellinger as executive director to carry out the organization's activities and mission. He will have an office at the Greater Omaha Chamber with the other executive directors to allow for a close working relationship with the entire Partnership team.