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Local

Supervisors approve grant to fund 7-county consortium

The Jasper County supervisors on Tuesday approved an additional $2,500 grant to the Iowa Innovation Gateway.

The Iowa Innovation Gateway grew out of a regional collaboration of central Iowa counties. Following the closing of Maytag Co. in Newton in 2006, Jasper and other bordering counties came together to improve the economic development opportunities of the area, and to facilitate the area’s workforce to find new jobs.

The Iowa Innovation Gateway was formed and the seven-county area became the first in the nation to receive a $250,000 Regional Innovation Grant from the Department of Labor to create a strategic regional plan. That plan was completed in June 2008, in partnership with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and guided by executive director Denise Rathman and a 16-member executive board, representing leaders in business, education, workforce development and economic development. Those counties forming the Iowa Innovation Gateway include Jasper, Story, Marshall, Marion, Tama, Poweshiek and Mahaska.

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors approved a $2,500 grant to Iowa Innovation Gateway in 2009, and Rathman appeared before the supervisors Tuesday to ask for another $2,500 grant.

Rathman said the Iowa Innovation Gateway works mainly on a regional basis, but in Jasper County the group has worked with local businesses to create a training program at Des Moines Area Community College, as well as working to bring TPI wind blade manufacturer to the area. The group also has been cataloging skills among workforce the county, to help potential businesses thinking of relocating to the area, and bridging the gap between today’s high school students and the skills they will need for jobs in the future.

Other regional goals for the group include analysis of the workforce supply and demand; building a data-driven partnership to match workforce supply and demand; provide infrastructure to foster sustainable communities; and create a culture of entrepreneurism.

John Jennings can be contacted at 792-3121 ext. 425 or via e-mail at jjennings@newtondailynews.com.

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