News Archive

WEDG Workforce Development Mtg., 1/27 @ 8am

Having a tough time hiring? Having to work extra hard to get good applications?

As an important employer in the Washington County area, please REGISTER for you or someone in your organization to attend our occasional WASHINGTON COUNTY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT meeting next Wednesday morning. We’re putting together the info you want into ONE meeting. Really, this is going to be a great meeting. Don’t miss it.

WHAT:     • Laborshed Analysis for Washington, County & Creative Corridor
                      - Iowa Workforce Development (NEW REPORT!)
      • Wage data by occupation/job title and sector - IWD
      • Workplace Learning Connection update
      • Kirkwood Regional Center update
      • Kirkwood Manufacturing, Healthcare, Sector Board updates
      • United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties
      • Networking & updates from attending employers

WHEN:      Wednesday, January 27, 8:00-10:30am 
                  (Manufacturing Sector Board from 7-8am)

WHERE:    Washington County Fairgrounds 4-H Dallmeyer Hall
                  611 Hwy 1 South, Washington, IA 52353

RSVP:    CLICK HERE TO REGISTER (free) (registration not required but really helps us with planning)

Other upcoming interesting events:

Monday, March 21st, Annual Dinner for WEDG, Washington Chamber, & Main Street Washington @ Riverside Casino, $40

February date TBD - Housing Summit - Washington County hasn’t recovered the new home building pace of pre-2008. How do we get more housing going? Grow the workforce? Add construction jobs?

Want to see older (2012, 2010) Laborshed reports and commuting patters?

Feel free to contact me (319-653-3942, with any questions or comments.

Even more interesting things:

Map of the Week - Iowa Legislative Service Agency (LSA) a non-partisan agency at the State Capitol, produces a weekly thematic map of interesting data that helps your understanding of Iowa's Counties, and the State.

IWD's Labor Market Information web site - Updated website with great data on employment, industry and occupational statistics, wages, projections, trends and other workforce characteristics.

Subscribe to the Iowa's Creative Corridor weekly e-mail digest of interesting stories and events. Maybe the people you want to hire are getting it to plan their weekend.


2016 Legislative Briefings & Legislative Priorities

As the Iowa Legislature begins the 2nd Session of the 86th General Assembly on Monday, January 11th, the Washington Chamber of Commerce gets ready to host its annual series of monthly Legislative Briefings. These public meetings are held in the Courtroom at the Washington County Courthouse, 222 West Main St.

  • Saturday, January 16, 10:00am - Noon
  • Saturday, February 20, 10:00am - Noon
  • Saturday, March 19, 10:00am - Noon 

Washington County is part of two House districts and two Senate districts. The following four Legislators are invited to participate:

L-R, Rep. Jared Klein, Rep. Dave Heaton, Sen. Rich Taylor, Sen. Kevin Kinney

  • REP. JARAD KLEIN (R), District #78 - Assistant Majority Leader
    • Committees: Administrative & Rules (Vice Chair), Ag, Environmental Protection, Natural Resources, Public Safety

To help people get into the legislative mood, I'm including the Legislative agenda for the statewide economic development association (PDI - Professional Developers of Iowa), as well as links to legislative priorities for a number of other associations and organizations. You can look back at the 2015 agendas too.



Small Business & Entrepreneurship Support – Direct technical assistance to entrepreneurs and start-up companies is a key component to growing Iowa’s economy.  The Legislature should provide adequate funding for small business development and economic gardening programs to foster entrepreneurial endeavors.

Renewable Chemical Tax Credit – PDI joins partners in agriculture, biosciences and manufacturing in supporting passage of the Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit, legislation aimed at creating opportunities for wealth and job growth in areas of critical need while enhancing necessary efforts to reduce our nation’s dependence on petrochemicals.

Tax Increment Financing – PDI supports TIF and opposes efforts to weaken this important and flexible local economic development tool.  New TIF reporting requirements adopted by the legislature in 2012 provide the public access to more information on local use of TIF, and any proposed changes to TIF would be unwise prior to both in-depth analysis of a multi-year sampling of that data, as well as an analysis of the effects of the 2013 property tax reform legislation on local government revenues.  In fact, the Legislature and Governor should look for ways to expand the use of TIF to address critical needs throughout Iowa, such as workforce housing in some rural areas.

Brownfield/Grayfield Tax Credit Program - PDI supports increasing the tax credit allocation for this program to accommodate strong demand. Brownfield/Grayfield redevelopment promotes economic health in Iowa communities by reducing environmental hazards, eliminating blight and restoring beauty to neighborhoods and communities.

Workforce – The single biggest obstacle to growth identified by PDI members statewide is related to workforce availability, quality and access to innovative training programs and practices that are responsive to a rapidly changing workforce.  Iowa’s ability to successfully address these challenges must be complemented by adequate funding and proper alignment of services to strengthen our knowledge based economy.

State Economic Development Resources – Iowa’s ability to attract or induce economic growth to create jobs and increase wealth is directly related to the reliability and sustainability of resources for use by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and other departments that affect job creation. PDI supports fully funding Authority business incentives appropriations requests as well as appropriate administrative needs.  The State can also assist these efforts by reducing regulatory impediments to business growth. 

Income Tax Reform– Improve Iowa’s competitiveness by creating a simpler income tax structure for both corporate and personal income taxes.  Corporate and personal income taxes should be uniformly adjusted downward.  The Governor and the Legislature should also end federal deductibility and accomplish this without shifting the tax burden between brackets.

Housing – PDI recommends that the tax credit allocation for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program be raised to $40 million and that the credits no longer be counted against the state’s business tax credit limit. Workforce housing is in critical supply across Iowa and the housing tax credit program is an aggressive step toward addressing the problem.

Broadband – Building upon positive action last year, the Governor and Legislature should continue to push for broadband deployment to every corner of Iowa.


Apply to serve on a State Board or Commission

There are many boards and commissions in Iowa, appointed by the Governor, that help to advise and administer on a wide range of topics, issues, and areas of service.

Currently, there are 9 individuals from Washington County serving on Governor-appointed boards and commissions. Kudos to them for getting involved. The Governor did not select them because they are FaceBook friends - they completed an application and asked to be considered.

Washington County appointed Commission members

Berger, Steve Judicial Nominating Commission, State 4/30/20
Cobb, Mark Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board 4/30/19
Kiene, Kevin Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board 4/30/16
Kleese, Amanda Early ACCESS, Iowa Council for 6/30/18
Latcham, Sarah Libraries, Commission of 4/30/19
Lipski, Patricia Civil Rights Commission, Iowa State 4/30/19
Lynn, Trevor Juvenile Justice Advisory Council 6/30/18
Marek, Larry Agricultural Education, Council on 6/30/18
Unternahrer, Shannon Child Advocacy Board 4/30/17


In the surrounding area, there are many other appointed Commissioners serving, including 11 from Henry County, 23 from Iowa County, 3 from Jefferson County, 53 from Johnson County, 4 from Keokuk County, 77 from Linn, and 3 from Louisa County.

Governor Branstad will make appointments to 91 of the 160 State boards and commissions in March, 2016 during the Legislative Session. Browse through this list, and click through to any that interest you to learn more. Don't wait until February to get started. Do it over the Holidays.

State law requires most boards and commissions be balanced according to gender and political affiliation. Geographical location and diversity is also considered. Sometimes, this means that your gender, party affiliation, or geographical location make you a good fit for a particular commission, but sometimes, your background may not be what they're seeking at this time. Really, this balance is one of the best things about Iowa.

Accountancy Examining Board   3 of 8
African Americans, Commission on the Status of   6 of 8
Aging, Commission On   2 of 7
Agricultural Development Board   1 of 5
Alcoholic Beverages Commission   1 of 5
Architectural Examining Board   2 of 7
Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, Commission of   5 of 7
Athletic Training, Board of   2 of 7
Autism Council, Iowa   4 of 13
Banking Council, State   2 of 6
Barbering, Board of   1 of 5
Behavioral Science, Board of   3 of 9
Blind, Commission for the   2 of 3
Capital Investment Board, Iowa   1 of 5
Chiropractic, Board of   1 of 7
City Development Board   1 of 5
City Finance Committee   4 of 7
Community Action Agencies, Commission on   3 of 9
Cosmetology Arts and Sciences, Board of   2 of 7
Credit Union Review Board   4 of 7
Cultural Trust Board of Trustees, Iowa   3 of 5
Deaf Services, Commission of   3 of 7
Dentistry, Board of   3 of 9
Dietetics, Board of   1 of 5
Drug Policy Advisory Council, Iowa   2 of 7
Early Childhood Iowa State Board   3 of 15
Education, State Board of   3 of 10
Educational Examiners, State Board of   3 of 11
Electrical Examining Board   4 of 11
Emergency Response Commission, Iowa   10 of 14
Employment Appeal Board   2 of 3
Engineering and Land Surveying Examining Board   3 of 7
Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, Iowa   2 of 6
Grain Indemnity Fund Board, Iowa   3 of 5
Great Places Advisory Board, Iowa   4 of 12
Healthy and Well Kids In Iowa Board (HAWK-I)   2 of 4
Hearing Aid Dispensers, Board of   2 of 5
Higher Education Loan Authority   2 of 5
Human Rights Board   8 of 11
Innovation Council, Iowa   1 of 1
Interior Design Examining Board   3 of 7
Interoperable Communications System Board, Iowa Statewide   3 of 11
IPERs, Investment Board of the   1 of 6
Judicial Nominating Commission, State   3 of 8
Landscape Architectural Examining Board   2 of 7
Latino Affairs Commission   3 of 7
Law Enforcement Academy Council, Iowa   3 of 13
Libraries, Commission of   1 of 7
Lottery Authority Board of Directors, Iowa   1 of 5
Massage Therapy, Board of   3 of 7
Medicine, Board of   5 of 10
Mental Health and Disability Services Commission   8 of 18
Mental Health Risk Pool Board   2 of 9
Mortuary Science, Board of   3 of 7
Nursing Home Administrators, Board of   2 of 9
Nursing, Board of   3 of 7
Optometry, Board of   2 of 7
Organic Advisory Council   1 of 5
Parole, Board of   3 of 5
Peace Officers Retirement Accident and Disability Systems Trustee   1 of 1
Persons with Disabilities, Commission of   4 of 7
Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund Board, Iowa Comprehensive   2 of 6
Pharmacy, Board of   2 of 7
Physical and Occupational Therapy, Board of   3 of 7
Physician Assistants, Board of   4 of 9
Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board   4 of 9
Podiatry, Board of   4 of 9
Prevention of Disabilities Policy Council   3 of 9
Psychology, Board of   3 of 7
Public Employment Relations Board   3 of 3
Public Information Board, Iowa   4 of 9
Racing and Gaming Commission, State   2 of 5
Real Estate Appraiser Examining Board   3 of 7
Real Estate Commission   1 of 7
Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board   6 of 11
Respiratory Care, Board of   1 of 5
School Budget Review Committee   2 of 4
Sign Language Interpreters and Transliterators, Board of   2 of 7
Social Work, Board of   3 of 7
Soil Conservation Committee, State   1 of 9
Speech Pathology and Audiology, Board of   2 of 7
Status of Women, Commission on the   4 of 7
Technology Advisory Council   5 of 8
Telecommunications and Technology Commission, Iowa   3 of 5
Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, Commission on   3 of 6
Transportation Commission   2 of 7
Veterans Affairs, Commission of   5 of 9
Veterinary Medicine, Iowa Board of   1 of 5
Vision Iowa Board   6 of 10
Watershed Improvement Review Board   3 of 11
Workforce Development Board, Iowa   4 of 9


Get the Application!

If you find one that fits your circumstances that you are interested in, go to the Governor's on-line application page. You can apply by creating an online profile and completing an on-line application, or you can download a PDF form to complete off-line. If these don't fit you, think of someone you know that you could forward this to that might find a good fit. Go to the Governor's home page for Boards and Commissions for more info.


And if none of these fit you, don't despair. Look around for other volunteer opportunities where you could make an impact. Your city, county, school district, and non-profit organizations are routinely in need of interested and knowledgeable community members to contribute their time and expertise. Look around and get involved! Feel free to contact me or the Washington Chamber of Commerce if you want some advice on what organizations you could connect with.

Don't delay. Don't wait for the deadline. Make getting involved in your community or your state a New Year's resolution if you need to. It is very rewarding.



Washington County Unemployment falls to 2.4% in October

Washington County's unemployment rate fell to 2.4% in October from 2.6% in September. The number of employed persons rebounded to 12,500, and the number of unemployed persons was about 300.

Washington County's laborforce has peaked again at 12,900, equalling the historical high set this summer.

Iowa Workforce Development offers this data in several formats. At IWD's Local Area Unemployment Statistics page, you can select county maps for any month, and for several data types. That is the source for the following maps.

Source IWD Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: IWD Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: IWD's Local Area Unemployment Statistics

This map shows the percentage of the population between the ages of 20-65 that are employed or unemployed and seeking employment. Washington County has a participation rate of 86.2%, which is the third highest rate in Southeast Iowa. In Iowa, Washington County is in the top 20% of all counties for laborforce participation.

This high level of participation accounts for the large laborforce in Washington County, compared to other counties with a similar population.

The source of this map is the "Map of the Week" service of the Iowa Legislative.

Source: Iowa LSA Map of the Week

I like maps. 


Washington County is top Conservation County

Washington County has the most acres in Iowa enrolled in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with 37,046 acres or 2.6% of the state total.

"The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), established in 1985 by the Reagan administration, is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the CRP program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat."

As a result of the last CRP signup in August 2013, Iowa had 1.39 million acres enrolled in CRP on October 1, 2013, down from 1.53 million acres. This decrease is because there were 183,857 acres that expired from the program, and only 47,418 acres that were accepted in to the program. The average number of CRP acres per county is 14,000.

Washington County had 6,779 acres that expired in 2013 and 3,203 acres that entered the CRP program, resulting in a state leading 37,046 acres. The reason that so many acres expired is that 10-15 years ago, even more acres were enrolled in CRP.

Washington County's 3,203 acres entering CRP in 2013 is the most in Iowa, followed by Keokuk County. This is significant to note because 2013 was the highest corn and soybean prices in Iowa history, averaging over $7 per bushel of corn and $15 per bushel of soybeans in the months leading up to the CRP signup.

This means that with sky-rocketing grain prices, Washington County farmers and property owners did not move to plant as many acres as possible. Instead, Washington County led the state for conservation acres enrolled and also for the number of new CRP contracts (110, 2nd to Keokuk County). Washington County farmers and landowners have a long-term view of caring for the land, and is not lured to plow up sensitive land by spiking grain prices.

Among the top 8 CRP enrollment counties, Washington County has the largest population, as well as the most enrolled acres. Five of the top 8 are on the southern Iowa border with Missouri, having populations between about 5,000 and 8,600. 

Source: USDA CRP 45th Signup, August 2013 County by County Summary

Among the top five hog producing Counties, Washington County has 12,000 more acres of CRP than the other four combined. In Washington County, leadership in livestock numbers is matched by leadership in conservation.

In southeast Iowa, a cluster of four counties account for 9% of all the CRP acres in Iowa - Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, and Washington Counties.

The Des Moines Water Works has sued three Northwest Iowa counties over water quality. Only one of these three counties has more than the average CRP enrollment, and the other two have half the average CRP enrollment. In 2013, these three counties combined had 2,067 acres that expired from CRP, and only 260 acres that were enrolled in CRP.

Washington County is a unique County in Iowa (and the Midwest).

  • #1 in land conservation with 37,046 acres in CRP
  • #1 in solar with over 4.1 MW of user-owned, distributed power
  • #2 in hog production (which is all locally owned)
  • #3 in organic production
  • #3 in goat production
  • #6 in turkey production (with no avian flu cases in 2015)
  • #14 in population growth (behind the core metro counties)
  • Renewable fuels - Iowa Renewable Energy 30mgpy flex-source biodiesel plant

Source: USDA 2012 Ag Census; USDA CRP Enrollment 2013; Alliant Energy & Iowa Dept. of Revenue

The next CRP signup window is December 1, 2015 through February 26, 2016.

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