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Economist presents findings to Corridor

By Staff | Feb 20, 2008

SPENCER — Business and government leaders from four counties saw how our area is faring economically Tuesday at Spencer City Hall.

Members of the Iowa Great Lakes Corridor heard from Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson on the findings of a study of a five-county area. In addition to the four-county Corridor members — Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, and Emmet counties, the study also included Palo Alto County due to its strategic economic relationship to the other four counties.

Swenson said the Key Industry Analysis evaluated the area’s competitiveness and identified opportunities for development.

Swenson noted that Iowa has a greater loss of young adults than the nation as a whole and the five-county region’s loss is still higher. He also noted strong losses of school-age children in Emmet and Palo Alto counties.

Regarding wages, Swenson said Iowans earn 80.7 percent of the national average while workers in the five-county region earn 65.7 percent of the national average. And, while the average U.S. resident, which includes all men, women, and children, works 13 hours a week, Iowans earn 14.3 hours a week.

Swenson’s study included industries with 50 or more workers; a specialization factor of 1.5, meaning they had specialized abilities 50 percent greater than the average population; and employment growth of 25 percent.

Evaluation criteria included whether industries had a value-added potential, a location quotient, potential for local growth, dispersing capabilities, local linkages, projected annual average growth rate for jobs and output, average earnings, export jobs, and import substitutions.

Swenson did note industrial diversity in the area.

“The more diversity you have, the better off you are,” Swenson said.