Kouba: Collaborative Efforts Will Pull Dubuque Area Through Difficult Times

July 20, 2020

Terry Kouba, Telegraph Herald

In early June, Alliant Energy had the privilege of hosting the Iowa Business Council’s first virtual Vision to Vitality community forum in Dubuque. Community members came together to discuss the coronavirus’ local economic impact and recovery efforts in Dubuque.

We talked about the barriers and solutions to workforce development efforts and the regional collaboration needed to rebound. The participants provided insight on the steps required for recovery. The more we talked, the more we realized Dubuque has pulled together after challenging times in the past and we will do so again now.

Though Dubuque’s workforce has been significantly affected by COVID-19 with record job loss, the greater Dubuque community has taken a collaborative approach by offering resources and stability to local residents and business owners. As store owners were forced to change the way they do business, Dubuque area organizations and nonprofits, Northeast Iowa Community College and Alliant Energy started to provide resources to help businesses plan their next steps.

Leveraging personal relationships and communicating often with the community has also been an important tactic by Dubuque leaders to assess the current state of affairs and make swift decisions to move forward. When grants became available by the state for business assistance, Dubuque area businesses could use these resources to understand the process and complete a successful application, resulting in a strong rate of awards granted to the community’s local businesses.

As the forum presenters spoke about the necessary steps to rebound, several themes emerged, including the need for: clear messaging to keep employees and customers safe; widespread testing; guidance to help businesses re-open; access to education and re-training; and the flexibility to offer remote work to employees to help them navigate child care and other demands.

As native and new Dubuque residents know, our success is driven by our willingness to work together.

We know through our combined efforts, we are stronger than we are individually. It is critical we lean into this strength to bounce back. We must continue building collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors and elected leaders to work through the complexity and widespread impact of the virus.

As a member of the Iowa Business Council, I have witnessed outstanding collaboration and everyone’s willingness to step up and answer the challenges in their communities — together. Since 1985, IBC has served as a catalyst for Iowa’s economic vitality. Our membership, the chief decision-makers of 22 of Iowa’s largest companies, are leading the way to recovery in the communities they live and work in. I’m proud to represent one of those companies and to be a part of the recovery efforts.

I’m pleased to say IBC members have donated $2 million to help the communities we serve since the pandemic began. Collectively, we have donated thousands of pounds of food to local shelters and food banks, cooked hot meals for residents, and provided funding for local disaster relief efforts. We continue to work with public officials and our local communities to strategically rebound.

It has become unequivocally clear that Dubuque refuses to lose when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus crisis and is charting a course to come back better than ever. To be successful, it will take every individual to join in positioning our community for future growth and prosperity.

Terry Kouba is a member of the Iowa Business Council, a non-profit comprised of 22 chief decision makers of the state’s largest employers. Kouba is president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. His family has called Dubuque home for nearly 40 years.

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