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Generational and Workforce Expert to Speak at Annual Conference

For more information contact:


Tina Hoffman, Iowa Economic Development Authority, 515.725.3150

Mark Douglas, Iowa Utility Association, 515.282.2115



Generational and Workforce Expert to speak at Annual SMART Economic Development Conference


April 26 (Des Moines, Iowa) – High energy workforce and generational expert Rebecca Ryan will be the luncheon keynote speaker at the annual SMART Economic Development Conference to be held on Thursday, May 3, 2012, at HyVee Hall, downtown Des Moines. Based on fear and economic uncertainty, some communities across the Midwest are scaling back investments, cutting critical services and fighting to maintain the status quo. At the same time, a new generation of communities is using the current economic situation to study the economy’s restructuring, engage new partners in new ways and reposition themselves as places of economic opportunity for next gen workers, entrepreneurs and their families. Join Rebecca Ryan, CEO and Founder of Next Generation Consulting, for a dynamic presentation and gain insight into the trends impacting our cities and the smart, contemporary choices communities must make to endear them to generations to come.


The annual SMART Economic Development Conference is the state’s largest annual conference devoted to economic development.  The conference is co-sponsored by the investor-owned electric and natural gas companies of the Iowa Utility Association (IUA) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The conference annually attracts 500 economic development professionals, business leaders, chamber of commerce executives, community leaders, elected officials and other board members who influence economic development and public policy issues statewide and within their own communities.  Now in its 27th year, the SMART Conference includes general sessions, workshops and networking opportunities to business leaders, community leaders and those involved in economic development across the state. The following list includes a sampling of speakers throughout the day, addressing topics critical to economic development including local government financing, workforce, community improvement, marketing and preparing a community for growth:


Debi Durham, Director of the IEDA will kick-off the day’s activities with an update on Iowa’s economic situation and IEDA’s efforts.


Featured morning speaker Raj Vohra with Deloitte Consulting LLP, will present “Life Sciences Industry: Community Attraction Strategies and Considerations.” Vohra will present a broader context for how and where the industry is expanding and offer valuable insight for communities and regions working to attract development in the industry. 


Ed McCallum of McCallum Sweeney Consulting and a nationally-recognized expert on mega sites will give an overview on trends in site selection. McCallum will also present information on Iowa’s Certified Site program, giving very specific details on the program and suggesting ways communities should prepare as they consider participation in the site certification process.


Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert will present “Re-creating Iowa’s Workforce.”   Iowa’s workforce must evolve to meet the changing needs of Iowa employers.  As industries re-tool and new ones emerge, Director Wahlert will describe how Iowa’s workforce must enhance skills in targeted areas and the partnerships necessary to propel our workforce forward.


Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is one of the most versatile and important tools local economic developers have when working to attract new companies or to help existing industries expand. Bob Josten is Iowa’s premier expert on tax increment financing and partner in Dorsey Whitney's public finance practice. With a wealth of experience and stories to match, Josten’s engaging style provides a very interactive and content-rich workshop on TIF.


Mark Lange of the Edward Lowe Foundation and Maureen Collins-Williams, Director of Entrepreneurship Outreach at the University of Northern Iowa, will address economic gardening.  Attendees will learn about the innovative methods communities are using to focus on entrepreneurial growth and to develop the entrepreneurial infrastructure, culture, talent and connections that businesses need to survive and thrive.


Aaron Brossoit and John Marshall of Golden Shovel will present workshop sessions on developing websites specifically tailored for economic development and provide insight into current trends and solutions that communities can use to improve their website and market their community for economic growth.


The 2012 SMART Conference will also highlight two innovative Iowa communities, Woodbine and Charles City, for their unique economic development successes.


Social media will also play a larger role in this year’s SMART Conference.  Attendees can join the discussion and share what they are learning in sessions by using the #2012SMART hashtag.  Individuals may obtain more information and register for the conference by visiting The registration fee is $60 per person at the door. For additional registration questions, please call 515.282.2115.  



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Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 1.515.348.6200
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