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Support of Many Key to Economic Development
Questions of Growth, Opportunities Should be Faced with Typical Dubuque Optimism

Nancy Dunkel

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

January 21, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

Like most years, 2006 begins with our asking more questions than our offering answers. Will our economy slow down? How can the legislature help small business? Will our farmers earn a good price on their crops?

This is certain - we of Dubuque have the optimism and fortitude to grow our economy and see an even brighter future for our region. As Iowa's oldest community we know the need to consistently grow our economy. We also know how difficult economic development can be to pursue.

In recent years both Democrats and Republicans have been talking about bold economic development initiatives aimed at creating jobs, stimulating the state economy and increasing the population of Iowa.

In addition to the Iowa Values Fund, we have many state business finance programs and incentives for new business and for those established businesses looking to grow.

The key to continuing economic development in Iowa is to gather the support of as many Iowans as we can. There are more than 417 bank and thrift charters in Iowa employing more than 15,000 people. These financial services experts are stepping up to the community development challenge.

Bankers in Iowa are key to promoting the economy of the communities they serve. Metro Dubuque is like most communities in that the banker is the first person contacted by someone thinking about starting or expanding a business. Banks, the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Dubuque Development Corp. and other organizations are hand-in-glove partners in moving our community, our businesses and our economy forward.

I am proud that my association, the Iowa Bankers Association, has made it a high priority to help bankers in playing an even greater role in economic development. The association has a specific economic development task force for Iowa bankers. The task force has already provided several educational programs for bankers and other economic development leaders to use, to hear expert advice on new programs and various sources of economic development strategies, including foundations.

Another program that Iowa bankers will be using to promote economic development is authorized through the Iowa Values Fund. The Loan and Credit Guarantee Program will allow Iowa banks to make loans for targeted businesses, including life sciences, advanced manufacturing and information solution businesses that would not normally meet standards/credit requirements. After applying and receiving approval by the state, a specific percent of the loan will be guaranteed against loss to the bank.

Bankers constantly look for ways to make loans and investments to help our communities grow. Bankers can help a great deal, but, in the end, a major part of our success depends on the right attitude.

If a business fears recession they might slow hiring or cut budgets. Soon those actions, based on fear, become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the business does face challenging times ahead.

We should look on the questions before us as opportunities. A new calendar year, a new Federal Reserve Board chairman and new business opportunities should be faced with typical Dubuque optimism.

Dunkel is the 2006 chairwoman of the Iowa Bankers Association and is a member of the Iowa Economic Development Board of Directors.