Lee County EDG received the award for Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Overall Program for 2019 for their Grow Lee program from the Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI).
PDI honored economic development organizations from across the state during the SMART Economic Development Conference held in Des Moines on May 9th. The SMART Conference is Iowa’s largest conference devoted to economic development.
The award was presented by Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg. It recognizes the outstanding efforts of local and regional economic development initiatives in supporting growth and expansion of existing Iowa companies. This is the third year that Lee County EDG has received this award.
"We are thrilled and humbled to accept this award on behalf of all of our stakeholders and community partners," commented Lee County EDG COO Dennis Fraise. "This recognition is a testament to Lee County Economic Development Groups community focused, collaborative economic development strategy."
Grow Lee is a collaborative effort spearheaded and facilitated by Lee County Economic Development Group to create bold ideas and action plans for their future workforce needs. The organization created the 12 Plus program to be led by local industry to provide STEM and career exploration opportunities for Lee County residents and students. It includes employability classes, student team projects for local industry, industry tours and more. Grow Lee affected over 3,800 students last year, and is projected reach over 4,000 this year.
Outcomes of the program include:
- Over 3,800 students participating in Grow Lee or STEM programming
- Over 400 Lee County students exploring local careers
- 92% of Lee County schools participating in STEM Scale-ups in the past 4 years
- Grow Lee being featured at the Governor's STEM Education and Future Ready Iowa Conference
Grow Lee has been a multi-year process that requires a range of individuals working together for a common goal; create a talent pipeline and connect it with local careers.
"Lee County has been getting noticed by the state for our collaboration and impact," said ED Project Director Dana Millard. "Winning this award three of the past four years shows you how progressive we've been as a county." Grow Lee also won Gold for Excellence in Economic Development for Grow Lee from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) at the international conference in 2017.
“Supporting Iowa’s existing industry is a key priority for PDI’s membership,” stated Kelly Halsted, PDI President. “The BRE Awards are intended to increase the focus on fostering Iowa business growth by economic development organizations and spotlight BRE programs and projects that have made a significant impact on Iowa communities.”