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New York Times Best-selling Author J.B. Bernstein and Internationally Recognized Author Joel Kotkin to Keynote 32nd Annual Iowa SMART Economic Development Conference

For more information, contact:

Tina Hoffman, Iowa Economic Development Authority, 515.725.3150
Daniel Evans, Iowa Utility Association, 515.282.2115

New York Times best-selling author J.B. Bernstein and internationally recognized author Joel Kotkin to keynote 32nd annual Iowa SMART Economic Development Conference

April 25, 2017 (DES MOINES) – The SMART Conference, now in its 32nd year, will welcome Joel Kotkin and J.B. Bernstein as keynote speakers, along with Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Director Debi Durham and many other presenters.  The annual Iowa SMART Economic Development Conference will be held Thursday, May 4, 2017, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines. Speakers and workshops throughout the day will address topics critical to economic development including local government financing, workforce, housing, community improvement, marketing, embracing new immigrants, entrepreneurialism, tourism and preparing a community for growth.

Morning keynote Joel Kotkin will prepare us for “Building Cities for People.” Kotkin has been described by the New York Times as “America’s uber-geographer,” and is an internationally recognized authority on global, economic, political and social trends. His talk will cover a discussion on the tremendous growth opportunities facing states like Iowa. These include the revival of U.S. manufacturing and energy production, support for agriculture and, perhaps most important, the shift of millennials to smaller, less expensive cities.

Luncheon keynote J.B. Bernstein will present “Sometimes to Win, You Have to Change the Game.” Bernstein, a sports agent and entrepreneur, is also the New York Times best-selling author of Million Dollar Arm (and inspiration for the Disney movie of the same name). Inspired by watching a professional cricket match on ESPN late one evening, J.B. traveled across the world to India with the hope and dream of finding major league baseball’s first professional Indian-born player. A great storyteller, J.B. will share the Million Dollar Arm story while providing ideas on how we as individuals, businesses and institutions can all pursue the American Dream.

The day-long Iowa SMART Conference is the state’s premier economic development conference. It includes general sessions, workshops and networking opportunities for business and community leaders, elected officials, board members and those who influence economic development across the Midwest. The SBA 2017 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year award, the SBA 2017 Iowa Small Business Community of the Year award, and the PDI Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) awards also will be presented during the conference, which annually attracts approximately 500 people. The conference is a public-private partnership co-sponsored by the investor-owned electric, natural gas and transmission utility companies of the Iowa Utility Association (IUA) and by the IEDA.

Individuals may register for the conference or obtain more information by visiting For additional questions, email  or call 515.282.2115.


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