Road to Recovery Iowa's Resiliency & Next Steps

July 13, 2020

Joe Murphy, Corridor Business Journal 

As the world has confronted the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen extraordinary market volatility, unprecedented job loss and general uncertainty about future trends for all industries. As we look to the road to recovery, we know it will take hard work and ingenuity as Iowa launches toward economic expansion. The Iowa Business Council (IBC) is committed to working collaboratively with partners across the spectrum to move our state forward.  

Every quarter, the IBC releases economic outlook survey data that measures members' expectations for sales, capital spending and employment. The overall survey output provides a guidepost on economic sentiment for the upcoming six months.

As you can imagine, the 2020 first quarter survey showed a significant dip as compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The uncertainty from the coronavirus coupled with significant supply chain issues and geopolitical concerns caused the survey number to drop to its lowest point since 2009.

However, there is cause for optimism coming out of the second quarter survey data. The survey’s overall economic outlook index rose to 41.25, increasing 3.75 points. While a number below 50 still indicates negative sentiment, we are hopeful this trend line continues. Secondly, the data shows that of the members forced to lay off or furlough some of their workforce, 80% expect to rehire some or nearly all of that workforce and 60% expect to rehire in the next seven to nine months.

As businesses continue to recover, the IBC is focused on communicating with our state and federal policymakers on important strategies for recovery including broadband expansion, child care access and affordability, and business liability protections. We will continue to host our Vision to Vitality forums to promote candid discussions with IBC members and local community leaders about Iowa's economy and the best opportunities for future growth. Our members recognize a critical part of addressing the coronavirus' economic impact includes community led solutions with statewide collaboration to strengthen business and empower Iowans to find new growth opportunities.

Additionally, we are proud several IBC members have been named to Gov. Kim Reynolds' Iowa Economic Re­covery Advisory Board. With planning underway, we know with their leadership, Iowa will turn pandemic-related obstacles into opportunities.

Finally, it's important to note Iowa businesses that have stepped up during the crisis to answer the call to help their community members. IBC members have donated over $2 million to address food in security, in fused funds into their local economies to support small business and have generously supported various philanthropic efforts across the state. Throughout Iowa, we saw businesses of all sizes reconfigure their manufacturing lines to create personal protective equipment for frontline workers, donate thousands of pounds of food to restock shelves, local shelters and food banks, and provide funding for local disaster relief efforts .This is the Iowa spirit that will carry the state through as it re bounds to recovery.

Iowans are resilient. We have come back in the face of crisis before. Whether it was the farm crisis in the 1980s, back-to-back historic 100-year floods or the Great Recession, our state and our people have resolved to lift one another up and get back to business. It will not be one advisory board or one dynamic city that brings our state back. It will take a collaborative approach, working in tandem with local chambers of commerce, regional economic developers, community nonprofits, educators and businesses to move our state forward and see communities flourishing again. We look forward to understanding best practices for growth from successful regions and sharing them across the state. We know we'll get through this together and look forward to the ideas and innovations we find along the way.

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