Iowa VP discusess economic development at Lennox

A vice president at the University of Iowa feels there are good things in store for the state in the way of economic development – but it has to be able to adapt to change.

Dan Reed, VP of research and economic development at Iowa, spoke at the monthly luncheon of the Lennox Leadership Development Organization Thursday at Lennox in Marshalltown.

Reed said Iowa’s good schools, low cost of living and well-educated workforce make it attractive to economic growth.

Reed, a former executive at Microsoft, has been on the job at Iowa for a year. He is traveling the state stressing the importance of partnerships in growing business.

“Everything I’ve seen in the last year is encouraging,” Reed said.

A key to growth is adapting to change, he said. Those who hold on too long to a successful business model can get left behind.

“If the rules of the game have changed, it’s very hard to let go of those old practices,” Reed said.

Along with change is the need to be a lifelong learner. Reed said during his dad’s generation people would learn a skill in their 20s and use that skill their entire lifetime.

“That’s not true any more,” Reed said.

He said America has to look for unfair advantages in the global marketplace, because the whole world is competition.

“There’s more people in China who speak English than there are citizens in the U.S.,” Reed said.

In order to have that growth, Iowa needs to keep its bright young people who often leave the state for better job opportunities.

“The only way I know to address that is create more economic opportunities in the state,” Reed said.

Reed spent the morning touring the plant at Lennox and learning about the heating and cooling line.

“I was impressed by the diversity of products and the whole manufacturing operation,” Reed said.