Attracting new Iowans

State launches effort to address tight labor market

Iowa’s booming economy has produced one of the nation’s best environments for job seekers. The most recent government statistics put the unemployment rate here at 2.4 percent, which means the Hawkeye State is tied for third place among all American states. Our state has been a national leader in keeping unemployment low for many months. That’s an impressive achievement.

Unfortunately, leaders of existing businesses considering expansions and companies contemplating investing in Iowa are concerned that the tight labor market could be an obstacle. Through Future Ready Iowa and other initiatives more Iowans are gaining the skills employers need. Efforts are underway to improve the state’s already excellent labor force participation rate, which currently is 69.1 percent.

Even so, robust further growth may require a larger workforce than can be generated from Iowa’s current population. That’s why state leaders have launched the “This Is Iowa” campaign. The mission quite simply is to get people who live in other states to move here. A website — www.thisisiowa.com — has been created that features content designed to sell Iowa to potential residents. This month a new video has been released that will be used on assorted media. It explains just how appealing a place Iowa is to work and live. The video can be viewed on the website.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority is taking a lead role in this aggressive effort to get the story out about the superb quality of life our state affords.

“The truth is, you can live big in Iowa!” said Debi Durham, director of IDEA. “The video … is a perfect example of how This is Iowa will challenge people’s expectations and increase awareness of the benefits of traveling and doing business here.”

That’s a message strongly championed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

“Iowa is the best place in America to live, work and raise a family,” she said in a statement announcing this initiative. “This is Iowa will raise awareness to the numerous opportunities that exist to establish careers, raise families and have new experiences. There has never been a better time to tell our story and to encourage both businesses and people to make Iowa their home.”

Plentiful, great jobs and affordable housing make Iowa attractive to folks who currently live in places where one must command a huge salary to be able to purchase or rent a desirable home. Iowa’s superb educational system is also a major draw for families. In many American cities expensive private schooling has become the option parents feel obliged to choose when faced with failing public schools. Here making sending children to public schools remains an excellent decision. Additionally, the state’s private schools are more affordable than in many locales. Deciding to choose Iowa is sweetened by the relatively short commute one must make to a workplace.

Consequently, it isn’t surprising that the governor and state officials have concluded that convincing people to move to Iowa is a feasible goal. Once they learn what Iowa has to offer, closing the deal may not be that difficult.

The Messenger applauds the This Is Iowa campaign. Our state has a wonderful story to tell. If getting the word out can influence more people to make Iowa their home that story will get even better.