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Branstad signs economic development overhaul

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1 Branstad signs economic development overhaul on Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:18 pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law on Monday an overhaul of Iowa's economic development efforts, giving private businesses a greater role in shaping programs, which was one of his top priorities in the last campaign.

The measure also changes the name of the main state agency that does economic development, the Department of Economic Development, to the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress. Backers say the name better reflects the structure of the new agency.

"This brings 21st-century thinking into our economic efforts," said Branstad's spokesman Tim Albrecht

Albrecht said many states are moving aggressively to get businesses more involved in developing policies on bolstering the economy because those companies are largely responsible for creating jobs.

When he campaigned for governor, Branstad frequently criticized the state's economic development agency. He particularly focused on that agency's film office and charges that movie-makers were getting improper subsidies.

Albrecht said that many Iowa cities have adopted the public-private model for economic development and the issue is far from partisan.

Branstad picked Debi Durham to head the agency after she developed a public-private effort in Sioux City. At the same time, Democrat Michael Blouin has developed a similar effort in Dubuque.

"We're excited to begin moving in this direction," said Albrecht.

The governor had offered details of his plans for overhauling economic development during the campaign, right down to the details of what name he would give the overhauled agency. Lawmakers of both parties approved, and the plan won approval in the Republican House and Democratic Senate.

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