Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad came together in Omaha to sign an agreement to form a two-state, regional economic development organization as a collaboration between southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa.
The Omaha–Council Bluffs metropolitan area has a regional population exceeding 885,600, and thousands of these residents cross over for work across the Missouri River separating the two cities.
As per the agreement, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership will be joined by regional organizations in Iowa including Advance Southwest Iowa – the freshly minted public-private partnership of the City of Council Bluffs.
Gov. Branstad said there is a national trend throughout the U.S. towards building mutually-beneficial economic development partnerships. He added that this type of regional approach would give them more clout on the national scene and help bring more jobs to southwest Iowa.
Gov. Heineman said a strong regional economy benefits both states, and added that one of the most exciting parts of this announcement was that the Greater Omaha EDP will now be able to provide inquiring companies and clients with more choices.
Other Iowa entities that will formally join the Greater Omaha EDP include the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, Iowa West Foundation, Pottawattamie County and the Western Iowa Development Association.
The Iowa West Foundation, which played a key role in the development of the two-state collaboration, announced a grant of $2.2 million over the next five years to support economic development through the new regional partnership and the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce.
Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, said the foundation served as a convener of the Iowa partners to begin the dialogue on regional economic development.
Bob Mundt, president and CEO, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, said the Iowa coalition inquired about joining the Partnership in early 2013 after observing the successes and synergies of communities working together as an economic development region.
The two-state partnership will be focusing on a five-year program that will include business retention and expansion, talent recruitment, and entrepreneurship and innovation.
J. Mac Holladay, CEO of Market Street Services which provides strategic economic development planning services, said no other two-state regional program is working on all three of these areas.
Advance Southwest Iowa’s newly hired executive director Mike Dellinger will have an office at the Greater Omaha Chamber so as to allow for a close working relationship with the entire Partnership team.