Industries gather in Ft. Madison as a part of Grow Lee

Grow Lee Summit.JPG

Over 180 community leaders, industry stakeholders and students came together to help recognize working industries.

It's all in effort to continue to grow Lee County Iowa.

Grow Lee is a workforce project focused on growing and increasing quality in Lee County's workforce.

"Grow Lee, for two years in a row, has been named the best business retention workforce program in the state of Iowa by the professional developers of Iowa, " said Dennis Fraise, Chief Operating Officer for Lee County Economic Development Group.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was in Southeast Iowa Thursday and says what Grow Lee is doing is incredible.

"And you heard also, it’s really important, I think we are doing it here in Lee County, where over 4,100 people work in the manufacturing sector which represents 25 percent of the job market, and as you heard earlier $250 million in annual wages right here in Lee County,” said Governor Reynolds.

14 businesses were recognized for their continued efforts to bring quality jobs to help Lee County grow.

"And so if we are going to grow our economy to the capacity that I believe we can and to prove opportunities for Iowans. This is about providing them a career, about having them be able to take care of their families, about helping our businesses continue to innovate and grow," said Gov. Reynolds.

Fraise says he thinks the last three years have been the easy part, and moving forward they will be faced with harder challenges.

"As you know we are still 88 out of 99 counties and our residents that have at least a certificate beyond high school, something we need to work on. We have chronically high unemployment and our industries are challenged to find the high quality skilled workers that we need," said Fraise.

Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg is focused on bringing connectivity for rural businesses in Iowa.

"Meaning good reliable high speed internet access. It is important for manufacturers and their daily operations, but also for many in marketing their products," said Lt. Governor Gregg.

Governor Reynolds says she hopes by with the future ready Iowa initiative, 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce will have education or training beyond high school by 2025.

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