(The Center Square) – As first meetings go, Iowa Association of Business and Industry President Mike Ralston walked away feeling things couldn’t have gone much better after members of the state’s newly formed economic recovery task force convened to plot strategy.
“Specifics are still being worked on, but it seems to me they’re focusing on everything it will take to get the state’s economy recovered and growing again,” Ralston said. “I hear they’re focused on ways to recruit good workers and improving things like infrastructure, partnerships and internet connectivity that are all needed to attract people and help the state grow.”
According to the Des Moines Register, the 13 member Economic Recovery Advisory Board of business executives and industry leaders put together by Gov. Kim Reynolds with the goal of shepherding the state back to economic stability after the COVID-19 pandemic went into battle with the idea of going big.
In the days to come, the board is committed to looking for ways to help bolster all areas of the state, including agriculture, connectivity, education, government, public health and workforce issues. Members are slated to make formal recommendations to the governor over roughly the next 90 days.
With the state already showing gradual signs of recovery and Reynolds having formally declared it in recovery mode, Ralston said he senses optimism is building.
“We have members all across the state and they all seem encouraged by the group’s focus and grateful for the governor tackling this issue the way she has,” he said.
Count Reynolds among those thinking big.
"We can simply return to where we were — which, really, that could be a fairly ambitious and realistic goal — or we can take what we've learned and the innovation that's been applied over these past four months and really start to reimagine how we do business," she recently told board members.
With the virus still lingering and the number of infections now actually rising in some parts of the country, Ralston concedes there is concern about the potential of another spike and what it could mean to the local economy.
“I think that possibility has to be in the back of everyone’s mind,” he said in still choosing to focus on the positives. “The good news is all those businesses here impacted by the virus have learned how to have employees work remotely and maintain productivity,” he said. “The manufacturing industry is one where that isn’t possible, but it’s clear everyone is doing what they can to hold things together.”