News Archive
Monday
Jun052017

Washington County leads in Cover Crops and CRP

Washington County has been a leader in both livestock production and in conservation practices. This is a unique position in Iowa, and the Midwest.

The USDA Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) just released cover crop planting data for 2016, and Washington County is the leading county in Iowa with 21,353 acres planted in "cover crops" using federal or state incentives and planning assistance. These programs include the the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

According to the 2012 Ag Census, Washington County had 222,000 acres planted in corn, soybeans, or other annual grain crops, which is about average in Iowa. That means that 10% of all crop acres in Washington County were planted in cover crops over the winter in 2016.

Cover crop planting is on the rise. Iowa saw an increase of 18% to 353,000 acres in planted cover crops from 2015 to 2016. Washington County's 21,353 acres accounts for 6% of all the cover crops in Iowa.

ISU Extension has a lot of articles about using cover crops and their impacts.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

Back in 2014, I wrote about Washington County as the #1 CRP county in Iowa. Acres enrolled in CRP is another measure of conservation practices in a county. At that time, Washington and Keokuk Counties were #1 and #2 in CRP acres.

In 2016, Washington ranks #6 in CRP acres in Iowa with 37,655 acres enrolled, a slight increase over 2013's 37,042 which was top in the state. Keokuk County ranks just ahead at #5 with 37,929 acres.

Three of the top 5 counties are along the southern Iowa border with Missouri and are not big agricultural counties, but they do have a lot of sensitive land - Ringold, Taylor, and Wayne Counties. The other top CRP county is Clayton County in Northeast Iowa, which is physically very large, but average in crop production acres. None of these counties are planting very many acres of cover crops (check the map above).

Washington County is a major hog production county, as well as turkeys and goats. It also is a major organic crop producer. In each of these categories, Washington County sets itself apart as being not only a top ag production county, but also a top conservation county with more cover crops and CRP than any other county.

 

Compared to the other counties in Iowa's Creative Corridor and other East Central Iowa counties, Washington County is far and away the leading conservation county, with significantly more cover crop and CRP acres than any other county.

 

 

Tuesday
May302017

Washington County Cities are Growing

Pledge to WEDG

Thanks to those that have already made a pledge to WEDG for 2017-2019. We are 70% to our goal of $100k! To our existing investors - please consider re-affirming your pledge into the future. To our potential investors - please consider supporting WEDG to help us pursue our mission - Create & Promote an Environment for Economic Development.

WEDG is pleased to have Washington State Bank as one of our premier Platinum investors. Thanks to President/CEO, Steve Bohn and the WSB Board of Directors for your generous historical and future support!

Ed Raber and Steve Bohn

Here is a pledge card to save you looking through your mail.

Washington County Cities are Growing

All 8 Cities in Washington County are estimated by the US Census Bureau to be growing since 2010. That is impressive since only 243 out of 944 Cities in Iowa are estimated to be growing. That is only 26% growing and 74% declining.

City est 2016 2010 % change Num change
Ainsworth 584 567 3.00% 17
Brighton 659 655 0.60% 4
Crawfordsville 270 264 2.30% 6
Kalona 2,534 2,371 6.90% 163
Riverside 1,039 993 4.60% 46
Washington 7,424 7,270 2.10% 154
Wellman 1,424 1,411 0.90% 13
West Chester 148 146 1.40% 2

 

Underlying that growth are three important factors. Washington County has more births than deaths. In addition, Washington County has a positive migration flow, both domestically and internationally. More people are moving in to Washington County than moving out.

In fact, Washington County is one of only 13 counties in Iowa to have positive natural growth, and positive domestic and international migration, ranking 9th.

54 Iowa Counties had more births than deaths between 2010 and 2016. However, only 20 Counties had a positive migration flow (more people moving in than moving out). Most Iowa Counties are experiencing an exodus.

Below is a table showing the change in population of many cities in Iowa's Creative Corridor and in Southeast Iowa. Its a mixed bag of growth and decline throughout the region.

City est 2016 2010 % change Num change
Tiffin 3,006 1,947 54.40% 1,059
North Liberty 18,520 13,391 38.30% 5,129
Marion 38,480 35,141 9.50% 3,339
Iowa City 74,398 67,946 9.50% 6,452
Coralville 20,397 18,912 7.90% 1,485
Fairfield 10,206 9,466 7.80% 740
Lone Tree 1,388 1,302 6.60% 86
Cedar Rapids 131,127 126,441 3.70% 4,686
Williamsburg 3,179 3,068 3.60% 111
Monticello 3,836 3,784 1.40% 52
Muscatine 23,914 23,772 0.60% 142
Oskaloosa 11,523 11,502 0.20% 21
Tipton 3,217 3,221 -0.10% -4
Wayland 952 965 -1.30% -13
Burlington 25,277 25,625 -1.40% -348
Anamosa 5,430 5,537 -1.90% -107
Ottumwa 24,487 25,023 -2.10% -536
Vinton 5,143 5,257 -2.20% -114
Columbus Junction 1,848 1,896 -2.50% -48
Mount Pleasant 8,392 8,668 -3.20% -276
Sigourney 1,987 2,059 -3.50% -72
Richland 559 584 -4.30% -25
Keota 966 1,011 -4.50% -45

Data Source: US Census Bureau, http://www.iowadatacenter.org/data/estimates/2016/pop-est-2016

In fact, most economic trends in Washington County are positive. We have increasing:

  • Population
  • Laborforce
  • Jobs
  • Income
  • Retail Sales

Feel free to view/download this 4Mb pdf slide deck of economic data charts and graphs to learn more.

 

Thursday
May042017

Pledge to WEDG

We are reaching out to you about making an investment contribution to support the Washington Economic Development Group. Our 2017-2019 Pledge Goal is $100,000 annually for a 3-year campaign goal of $300,000.  This funding allows us to continue our mission; to create and promote an environment for Economic Development.

We are most appreciative of our investors from 2014-2016! Thank You to those businesses, individuals, and local governments!

And thanks to Federation Bank for being our first pledge in our 2017-2019 campaign! Federation Bank is a longtime Platinum-level investor in WEDG. Pictured below are Lynn Koch, Senior Lender & WEDG Board Director; WEDG Director Ed Raber; and bank CEO Jaimie Collier.

Washington County has blossomed into one of the most dynamic, innovative, entrepreneurial, and growing areas in Iowa. Year over year increases in population, labor force, jobs, family income, retail sales, renewable energy, and our distinctive agriculture sector have all set Washington County apart as a special, unique place. WEDG is proud to be an important part of fostering this growth and innovation.

Informed by those economic trends, WEDG works with existing business and industry, entrepreneurs, on workforce development, community development, and regional engagement. WEDG is a “Connector” organization.

Please consider clicking, printing, and completing the following Pledge Card by the end of May. Get it back to us at 205 W. Main St., Washington IA 52353. Your financial support will make a difference in Washington County. We need your help!

We would also like you to share your thoughts with us in a brief on-line WEDG Stakeholder Survey.

If you have any questions or would like a personal visit to discuss WEDG and our pledge campaign, please feel free to contact any of the Board of Directors or Ed Raber, the Executive Director. Thanks!

Tuesday
Apr252017

Kirkwood Business Partners Workshop Series

Kirkwood Training & Outreach Services (KTOS) is partnering again with WEDG, the Washington Chamber, and Main Street Washington to bring a collaborative, high quality, professional training series to the Washington County area. All workshops will be held at the new Kirkwood Washington Regional Education Center

The series of seven monthly workshops costs about $500 ($71/4-hour workshop) for a season pass or "seat". There is a 10% discount for members of WEDG, the Washington Chamber, and Main Street Washington. Some employers (like manufacturers) may also be eligible for Iowa's 260E or 260F job training programs to defray some or all of the cost.

This is a great opportunity for great training content, with great instructors coming to Washington. For more info or to register, please contact a Kirkwood Training & Outreach Services program director at 319-398-5623 or complete this simple on-line form

To see a complete PDF brochure on the workshops and facilitators, click here.

2017 TRAINING SCHEDULE

  • Wednesday, June 21, 1-5pm: Skills and Expectations for New and Emerging Leaders - Heather Woody
  • Wednesday, July 19, 1-5pm: Getting it Together: Organizing for Success - Terry Whitson
  • Wednesday, August 16, 1-5pm: Effective Performance Review and Development Meetings - Patti Seda
  • Wednesday, September 20, 1-5pm: How Social Media can Support your Business - Alex Rose
  • Wednesday, October 18, 1-5pm: Assessing Different Personality Styles - Carrie Scroggins
  • Wednesday, November 15, 1-5pm: Critical Conversations - Karen Schumacher
  • Wednesday, December 20, 1-5pm: Buddy to Boss - Dr. Celina Peerman

To join the training consortium, you simply invest in a “season pass” for the 2017 training sessions. Your seats can be filled with different staff members based on the content of each individual training session. 

For additional information or to register, please contact a Kirkwood Training & Outreach Services program director at 319-398-5623 or visit www.kirkwood.edu/businesspartners. We are also planning a webinar on May 24th at 9am for an interactive discussion with our presenters. More details to follow.

Tuesday
Mar282017

Washington's Growth Century & Annual Dinner

The Washington Economic Development Group, Washington Chamber of Commerce, and Main Street Washington celebrated their 2017 Annual Dinner on March 27th with 289 friends at the Events Center at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. Its a great networking event for local and Creative Corridor business and community leaders. Check out the event photo album on FaceBook.

WEDG was pleased to award its 2016 Harvey Holden Special Service award to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation. Since 2006, the Riverboat Foundation has awarded over $38 million through over 1,000 grants. They have made a big impact across Washington County and the Creative Corridor.

WEDG also honored Dan Franz for his leadership as WEDG Board President in 2016. Franz is the General Manager at the Riverisde Casino and Golf Resort. Washington County Hospital CEO, Dennis Hunger, is the 2017 WEDG Board President. We also welcomed new board directors, Lynn Koch of Federation Bank, and Amanda Russell of Bazooka Farmstar. Click here for a full 2017 board director list.

Ed's Remarks at the Annual Dinner

Washington County has seen a lot so far this 21st century. We've experienced ups and downs including a deep recession, and just last quarter Modine Manufacturing closed for good. But there are actually over 1,600 more jobs in Washington County in 2016 than in 2001. In fact, there has never been a year with more jobs in Washington County than 2016. We peaked in the summer with over 8,500 non-farm jobs.

Those job gains are primarily because of growth within existing business and industry, and from entrepreneurial startups.

People come from all over to work those jobs in Washington County. But even those that commute out are bringing their money back. Over $100 million in annual payroll from Johnson County jobs comes back to Washington County residents.

Washington County's population is growing too. We've added over 570 people since 2010, a 2.6% increase. That is why our labor force keeps hitting record highs too - 12,900 this fall. People are moving to Washington County. We're also growing the old fashioned too (more births than deaths...).

Many of our rural neighbor and peer counties in Southeast Iowa or in the Creative Corridor are not so fortunate. 

Something else has changed in Washington County over the last 20 years. Our retail sales are climbing, and have been for a decade. In the late 1990s, Washington County was at the bottom of retail sales compared to our neighboring peer counties.

Since 2006 (pre-recession even), Washington County's retail sales have rocketed from $124 million to $194 million in 2016. That is a $70 million increase, a 56% increase. And the increase isn't just in Washington; the increases are also in Kalona, Wellman, and Riverside. Those vibrate economies in Washington County's small communities is one of the most special things about our area.

Today, Washington County is at the top of the heap in retail sales compared to our surrounding peer counties. Why? People move here. People come here to shop. They shop at big stores, new stores, old stores, downtown stores. (it is worth noting that Main Street Washington's focus on improving downtown began in 2008.)

Mostly though, Washington County and area residents are spending more of their retail dollars in Washington County. Shopping locally.  

Don't forget that retail sales impacts local cities and the County. Big growth in retail sales has resulted in big growth in Local Option Sales Tax revenues. For example, in FY2005, Washington County received just $656,000 in LOST revenues. In FY2016, Washington County received over $1.1 million in LOST revenue.

WEDG's mission is to create and promote an environment for economic development. Slowly and frequently behind the scenes, WEDG is helping to create the place that you want to be.

Now we need your help. WEDG is beginning our 2017-2019 Pledge Drive. When we reach out to you shortly to renew your pledge or to ask you to make a new pledge, we hope that you will help us.

We appreciate your support.