News Archive

Annual Dinner on March 19

Please join us on Monday, March 19th for our Annual Dinner at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. This is a fun networking celebration with 280+ community leaders from around greater Washington County. 

Be there to support the Washington Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Washington, and the Washington Economic Development Group!


Our guest keynote speaker is Scott Siepker, proudly sponsored by Washington County Hospital and Clinics. Siepker currently is best known as the co-host of Iowa Public TV's Iowa Outdoor.

Annual Dinner Details

  • Ticket Price: $40 per person ($50 after March 8th)
  • Tables of 10 can be reserved for your business/organization 
  • Dinner Buffet
  • Cash Bar
  • Guilt-free raffle with great prizes
  • Special hotel rate of $64.95 for the night of the event at Riverside Casino. Call 319-648-1234 and request the room block for Washington County Annual Dinner.

Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort!





Washington Co Realtor & Homebuilder Networking Luncheon 2/15

Come learn about what's going on in the southern half of the Iowa City metro area! Development opportunities, community projects, school improvements, and more.

Please join us for a casual mixer luncheon at the Riverside Casino's Event Center on Thursday, February 15, 11:30a-1:00p. Enjoy a yummy buffet lunch, and stroll around the Event Center to talk face-to-face with our city and school leaders, lenders, abstractors, realtors, and Ed.

Talk with City officials and community leaders from KalonaRiversideWashington and Wellman. Plus learn about cool education initiatives from the Superintendents of HighlandMid-Prairie, and Washington Schools.

Realtor members of ICAAR, and homebuilder members of Greater IC Home Builders Assoc. attend/eat for FREE. Others are $20.  It will be good.

Hosted, for the 3rd time, by the Washington Economic Development Group


City of Kalona
City of Riverside
City of Washington
City of Wellman
Highland Community School District
Mid-Prairie Community School District
Washington Community School District
Home Team Advantage Realtors
Lepic-Kroeger, Realtors
Integrity Abstract Company
Washington Title & Guaranty Co.
Engineered Building Design
Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
CBI Bank & Trust
Community 1st Credit Union
Federation Bank
Hills Bank and Trust
U.S. Bank
Washington State Bank

I'm looking forward to seeing you on Feb. 15th!

Ed Raber - Washington Economic Development Group
w. 319-653-3942 -


Workforce Development a top issue in 2018

2018 is shaping up to be a growth year in Washington County and the CR/IC Corridor, but also a challenging one for workforce and talent attraction.

Washington County's laborforce has been gradually growing over the years, and flexes between 12,600 and 12,900. But unemployment is just 2.1% or about 300 people, only 145 of which are drawing unemployment benefits.

Updated Laborshed Occupational Wage Data 

Back in January 2016, Iowa Workforce Development's Labor Market Information bureau published our Washington County Laborshed Analysis. Periodically, they have provided occupational wage updates for our Laborshed area. This is great data that gives a window into wage trends.

Washington Laborshed Sector Wage Reports, 2017 Q4

Wage data provided is customized to the Washington County Laborshed area which represents the following counties: Henry, Iowa, Jefferson, Johnson, Keokuk, Louisa, Muscatine, Wapello, and Washington. 

Workforce Development Strategies

In November, WEDG hosted a Workforce Development meeting and over 35 employers from around greater Washington County. A number of initiatives and opportunities for employers were presented.

Workplace Learning Connection

Job shadows, internships, workplace tours, literacy fairs, and employer engagement are what Kirkwood's Workplace Learning Connection is coordinating for k-12 students in Washington County (and their 7 County region).
Education is reaching out to employers to connect with students and teachers. Be sure you are reaching out too in 2018.
Check out the WLC's slide deck. Is your company on the list of partners for 2016-17?
Click here if you’d like to sign up to be a Partner or Volunteer with the WLC! Connecting students with employers and careers!


Iowa Registered Apprenticeships

IWD/IowaWORKS can help with sample Registered Apprenticeship plans that you can customize. Think your business isn’t a likely to be a “fit” for apprenticeships? Think again. "New industries are offering opportunities including: information technology, financial services, healthcare, transportation, energy, advanced manufacturing, and hospitality. A Registered Apprenticeship is an appropriate option for all job seekers including women, minorities, youth, people with disabilities, and veterans." IowaWORKS' Kate Pine is a great contact.

Here is Kate Pine’s slide deck and a fact sheet on the program:

Home Base Iowa

Mace Huffman (, m. 319-423-2809) spoke about the retooled Home Base Iowa program that allows participating Employers to search through Veterans resumes, as well as posting jobs for Veterans to find. Is there a good reason that your company is NOT participating in this initiative?

Home Base Iowa web site:


ESGR Statement of Support for Guard & Reserve

Employers were encouraged to sign up on-line for a statement of Support as an employer that works to accommodate employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves.

If you’d like to sign up on-line with an employer Statement of Support for working with employees and families serving in the National Guard and Reserves, go to:
Here is a ESGR Fact Sheet on the Statement of Support program:


Executive Industry Interviews

I try to annually many industry leaders from greater Washington County. Serving our existing business and industry base is a top priority for WEDG.

In January, I'll be reaching out for appointments with 30+ industry executives to get their thoughts and insights into their business and the area community business environment. 



Workforce Development luncheon Nov 15

Washington County's unemployment rate this Fall is 2.6%. The laborforce has expanded to 12,800+ with only 300 unemployed people. Only 91 people are drawing unemployment benefits. Job postings are up here and around Southeast Iowa. What is an Employer to do?

WEDG is hosting an annual Workforce Development meeting from 11:30-1:30, Wednesday November 15th with a full agenda of information and updates for Employers in Washington County and the southern end of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor.

The free long-lunch meeting will be at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Dallmeyer Hall, and will include lunch and great networking. We only have a meeting like this once every year or two, so please attend!

 Workplace Learning Connection update

Judy Marshall, Business Coordinator from Kirkwood Workplace Learning Connection, will discuss partnership opportunities for businesses through WLC programming and highlight current collaborations in Washington County. Programming such as Job Shadows, Internships, Work-Site Tours, Career Speakers, and Teacher @ Work experiences for schools, will be discussed as we help in building Iowa’s workforce of tomorrow.

Home Base Iowa v.2 update

 Mace Huffman will talk about his role as a Veterans Representative, and the Home Base Iowa program; both from an employer perspective and job seeker (veteran). Mace will review the HBI website and provide an overview to the HBI program and how you can become an HBI employer/HBI community. (You should be doing this.)

Iowa Apprenticeship info

Kate Pine from IowaWORKS - Registered Apprenticeship Programs are a proven solution for recruiting, training and retaining world-class talent. Registered Apprenticeship Programs can be customized to meet the needs of business and the skills of Registered Apprentices. Kate Pine, Business Marketing Specialist from IowaWORKS, will present examples of effective Registered Apprenticeship programs and details on creating your own program.

Laborshed Wage & Employment data update

In early 2016, IWD finished up a local and regional Laborshed Analysis, and has updated the wage and employment data once. We'll have current, late 2017, wage and employment data for the County, Laborshed region, and by employment sector. This is great info about current wages for hundreds of job categories.

Kirkwood Community College

Get an update on Washington Regional Center's upcoming employer-student events, Career pathways, sector boards, academic program advisory councils, and more.

Kirkwood is also hosting a $50 workshop, Recruit. Retain. Develop. - Strengthening the Talent Supply Chain, on Dec. 7 from 10-Noon in Cedar Rapids after the CBJ Workforce Awards, .  

We are looking forward to having you attend this meeting! See you on the 15th.



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.