Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Thankfully, here in the Iowa Lakes Corridor, investing in education is easy.
To close out our series on economic development partners, it’s time to cheerlead for our educational institutions. We’ll start with the public and parochial schools. A whopping 14 school districts touch the four counties of the Iowa Lakes Corridor region. All work collaboratively with employers to ensure that curriculum aligns with the needs of the future workplace. From extended career experiences in Spencer, culinary arts in Storm Lake, and so-called J-terms in several districts to No Boundaries, a project-based learning effort linking Graettinger-Terril, Okoboji and Spencer, our region’s educators are constantly innovating to keep kids engaged and learning. (An apology to the organizers of the many other school programs that didn’t get mentioned.)
When a student graduates, and often even before, they enjoy multiple options for higher education. Iowa Lakes Community College and Iowa Central College both serve the Corridor, providing two-year degree programs and certification programs that offer almost instant employability. Some estimates suggest that the majority of jobs in Iowa in the next few decades will be mid-skilled, meaning they require more than a high school program but less than a bachelors degree. That’s the wheelhouse of the community colleges.
Iowa Lakes and Iowa Central also play an integral economic development role through the Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training program, commonly referred to as 260E (
). In simplest terms, companies creating jobs in Iowa can work with the community colleges to apply for funds to support employee training and development. The colleges finance the awards through bonds that are paid back via a diversion of a portion of the payroll taxes from the new jobs. Thus the program is essentially free to the business. If you’re company would like to learn more about 260E, please call the Corridor, 712.264.3474, and we’ll connect you with the correct community college contact.
Last but certainly not least is 2019 Iowa Lakes Corridor Chairman’s Award winner, Buena Vista University. The intellectual hub of Northwest Iowa, BVU annually graduates scores of students who take on management and leadership roles in area organizations. Many of the region’s largest operations are led by alums. Here at the Corridor our favorite former Beaver is Alyssa Petersen, our Coordinator of Administration and Communication, who finished up her studies two years ago and immediately become irreplaceable to this office.
Recognizing the needs of its home area, BVU has in recent years added agricultural business and science programs and unveiled the new Donald F. and Charlene K. Lamberti Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. With these initiatives, the university is destined for ever greater influence in the local workplace in the decades to come.