The Source 2019 - Page 8

economic scene Economic developers ready to help OTTUMWA — Maybe you’re looking to grow your business or thinking about a good place to start from scratch. Southeast Iowa has many of the qualities you may be looking for — and a point of contact who can help you get the ball rolling. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation is overseen by a board, but the day-to-day operation is handled by the exec- utive director. Currently, that’s Sharon Stroh. “Economic Development doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Stroh said. “It takes a lot of different organizations, programs and individuals.” But for industrial startups, Stroh and her nonprofit board can be a good first contact. For one thing, she knows who you’ll need to contact in the area. For another, she knows the right ques- tions to ask. “First I’ll want to figure out square footage [required],” she said. “But we also need to know about utilities, transportation, wastewater access. Do they need an overhead door? Or a load- ing dock?” There may be an existing building or a build site. Someone coming to town to start a pen store could probably contact a real estate agent or the chamber of commerce. But SHARON STROH / EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OTTUMWA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION starting a pen factory? That’s where Stroh works, putting to- gether a road map to success. “We’ll talk labor shed. What kind of employees will be needed? If it’s a new type of industry, I may put them in touch with the college or the high school so they can [arrange for] training.” It’s a labor shed, she said, with 115,000 working adults within a 50-mile radius. And the fact that it covers six counties isn’t a threat to Stroh; it’s a benefit to investors. “If we don’t have what they’re looking for, I can always call one of our [neighboring] counties. The economic development directors in this region work well together. And when the region does well, we all benefit.” JOB NUMBERS in Wapello County As reported by the U.S Bureau of Land Management, these employ- ment numbers illustrate the various sectors that currently exist in a re- gional economy. The Jobs by Indus- try snapshot helps identify “drivers” of the local economy and the level of economic diversity. Further inferences can be drawn by comparing the proportion of employ- ment in a sector across geographies. For example, if the farm sector accounts for 10 percent of the jobs in one county, but 2 percent in several adjacent counties, it is reasonable to conclude that the farm sector plays a particularly important role in that county. 8 The Source. 2019 What might be of interest to the people of Wapello County is a trend reflected across the nation: Fewer Americans are working on farms while manufacturing jobs are growing. In Wapello County, the 2016 figures say there are 658 people employed on the farm, which is down from 2001 by 259. It was the largest job shift in the county; however, it follows no national trend. As national government continues to grow, gov- ernment jobs in Wapello County have dropped by 250 to a total of 2,775. On the other hand, manufacturing has hired an additional 229 people in the same time period. Wapello County Employment Numbers 1. Non-services related Farm 658 Forestry, fishing, & ag. services N/A Mining (including fossil fuels) N/A Construction 894 Manufacturing 3,560 2. Services related 12,368 Utilities 170 Wholesale trade 386 Retail trade 2,684 Transportation and warehousing 706 Information 170 Finance and insurance 657 Real estate and rental and leasing 343 Professional and technical services 352 Management of companies 66 Administrative and waste services 786 Educational services 290 Health care and social assistance 2,741 Arts, entertainment and recreation 220 Accommodation and food services 1,482 Other services, except public admin. 1,315 3. Government 2,775