IEDA’s Durham visiting Red Oak
Iowa Economic Development director Debi Durham will visit Red Oak this Friday.
Red Oak Chamber & Industry Association is the host for the director’s visit.
According to ROCIA economic development director Paul Griffen, the director’s preliminary schedule includes a meeting with community dignitaries at 10 a.m.; followed by a tour of the community; a tour of Johnson Helicopter and Agri-Smart Info Systems at the Red Oak Airport; a tour of the Red Oak Greenhouse west site; a lunch and discussion at the Red Coach Inn & Restaurant; and a tour of the Wilson Performing Arts Center.
“The IEDA is a partner for Red Oak, Montgomery County and the surrounding area in developing and promoting the economic vitality for the region,” Griffen explained. “The IEDA helps identify and cultivate business leads and provides training, and other resources that contribute to business retention and growth for southwest Iowa. Having Director Durham visit gives us the opportunity to develop personnel connections between southwest Iowa and the IEDA which helps the IEDA conduct their efforts on our behalf.”
Griffen said the visit is an opportunity to give Director Durham and her staff a flavor of Red Oak and our business/industry climate.
“We have several businesses that thrive in our area because of the people who call southwest Iowa home. These owners, operators, workers, and community members are successful because of their dedication and pride in southwest Iowa and their businesses,” Griffen said. “Through connecting Director Durham to our needs and our community’s drive for progress, we can develop future growth in Red Oak and the area.”
Gov. Terry E. Branstad appointed Durham director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) in January 2011. As one of her first orders of business, Debi worked with the governor and legislators to restructure the department to create a public-private partnership to update and improve Iowa’s delivery of economic development services.
That led to the creation of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress (IPEP) – the umbrella organization for the new structure. Durham now serves as the director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), the public arm that replaced IDED and oversees the traditional economic development programs.
Durham oversees IEDA’s efforts to develop and expand Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In collaboration with the Iowa Innovation Corporation, the private side of the public-private partnership, funding to support companies at early stages of development was increased and the mentoring processes to ensure these companies could be successful were made more robust.
In her role as a senior advisor to the Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds, Durham plays an integral role in the Home Base Iowa initiative to place veterans in rewarding careers at Iowa employers. Also under Durham’s leadership, efforts to expand Iowa’s apprenticeship programs – both providing Iowans with good paying career opportunities and Iowa businesses with the highly skilled employees they need to grow – were successful in 2014.
Prior to leading Iowa’s economic development initiatives, she served as president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, president of The Siouxland Initiative (TSI), and the Siouxland Chamber Foundation. She also serves on the board of directors for Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, and is a member of Iowa State University’s College of Design Advancement Council.