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Financial Conversations with Fitz #18 - Economic Development Conference - 05/12/2009

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It is spring!!!!     Ground temp dropped to 54 degrees.  Let’s hope for a good week of sunshine.   Hope all the moms had a good weekend….  Went to an interesting Economic Development conference last week sponsored by the utilities of Iowa…..

This event had about 400 people in attendance.  The big utilities put this on every year….Always have lots of good speakers with national exposure plus some nice concurrent sessions by towns just like us on their successful programs.   One of our own graduates from Forest City, Tracy Peterson, was the head man for facilitating.   He is the Vice President of Iowa Operations for Black Hills Energy.  His mom, Pat Peterson lives in Forest City.  The basic theme was sustainability for buildings and jobs.

Robert Atkinson from Kaufman talked about how important INNOVATION is to development….IT generates quality jobs and new process.  Whereas low wages brings lob production.  You can get big w/out innovation but you can’t get rich without it.  Used a term called “Gazelle Jobs”  …Firms that have doubled in the last four years.  He was followed by a neat speaker from UNIV of Penn. Talking about tearing down old quality buildings to build box stores that are usually empty three years later.  Handed out lots of thistle awards….Had excellent concurrent sessions to attend in the morning and afternoon.  I attended a good one with West Union and Dubuque showing what they did with their downtowns.   Dubuque just landed a new employer, IBM, with 1200 jobs because of their unique downtown renovations.  

Our noon speaker was excellent.  She was Marci Rossell, Former Chief Economist with CNBC.  She had also served on the federal reserve.  She told us inher comments was the word “recovery”.  She went thru how we got here and what has happened to think we are at the bottom and ready to recover.  Jobs and houses will be lagging tho.    The normal housing cycle is usually about 10 years.  Our current cycle started in 2006 and will take until 2016 to get back to about where it was…which was way too high.  Stock market is a long term investment before and still should be.   “If you need the money for something in ten years, shouldn’t buy stock with it.”   The old formulas for housing to income  (1 to 3) still exists as does the stock index that will grow 8 % over a long period of time.

An interesting comment for the women out there…..Be sure we have a gender balance on our chamber and development boards..The gals influence 85% of the buying decision!!!!!!!
There were a good selection of vendors from gov’t agencies to private consultant firms to visit with for new ideas and assistance programs.

Remember that you should deal with people in community banks and organizations that when they put something together for you that they will be sitting with them at ball games, church or community events.  So, if in doubt give us a call.