Getting ready for tomorrow

Gov. Reynolds seeks to diversify Iowa’s economy

Iowa’s economy was once dominated overwhelmingly by agriculture. It’s still a major component and will remain so. Today, however, our state is the home to an eclectic collection of industries. That diversity is making the Hawkeye State stronger and helping keep it prosperous.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and her team at the Iowa Economic Development Authority want to broaden even further the range of businesses that thrive here. That’s why Reynolds is expressing excitement about a new report that shows there is an opportunity to enhance and expand Iowa’s relatively modest but vibrant education technology industry — often referred to as EdTech for short.

The report is the first-ever assessment of Iowa’s EdTech sector. It considers how what is already in place can be leveraged to make our state a national leader in this field and concludes that the potential for growth is great. With that in mind, the IEDA and Iowa Innovation Council have laid out an ambitious and highly promising roadmap for EdTech’s development in the decades ahead.

“Iowa is a national leader in preparing our kids to thrive in the knowledge economy,” Reynolds said in a statement just issued. “This EdTech strategy is about using that advantage to create jobs in this thriving and dynamic sector. It’s a natural next step that further complements efforts already in place through the STEM Council’s STEM Best program and the Future Ready Iowa Initiative. This roadmap will cement our leadership in education and integrate the EdTech sector into Iowa’s economic development priorities.”

According to information provided by Reynolds’ office, the report recommends a strategy that focuses on “collaboration facilitation and cluster networking, enhancing Iowa’s piloting and adoption environment, entrepreneurial ecosystem development and workforce development and access.”

That’s a challenging agenda, but Debi Durham, director of IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority, sees that potential benefits of pursing it to be huge.

“I’m excited, not just for what EdTech can mean as its own traded cluster, but in support of the talent development and training that feeds into our other industry sectors,” she said.

The Times-Republican agrees.

We commend the governor for her leadership in stimulating creative dialogue about Iowa’s economic future. Identifying those fields where the greatest potential for industries to thrive and grow here exists is a crucial undertaking. Reynolds has consistently shown an appreciation for innovative thinking. It is one of the qualities that makes her an outstanding person to be our state’s chief executive.


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