By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Appanoose Economic Development Corporation's annual banquet at Honey Creek Resort State Park Thursday night featured three award presentations and two speeches in front of 160 attendees.
Awards were given to Indian Hills Community College, Lee Container and Virginia Padovan. IHCC was given the Outstanding Service to Appanoose County award, Lee Container was given the Investing in Appanoose County award and Padovan was given the Cline Medal award.
Nancy Huisman announced Padovan as the fourth Cline Medal award winner. She joins Morgan Cline, for which the award is named, Rob Lind and Frank Reznicek.
Padovan was selected due to her outstanding contributions to Centerville and Appanoose County.
"I am absolutely, positively overwhelmed," Padovan said. "I am very humbled. I want to thank every one of you and I am very honored."
Padovan, who turns 93 this month, promised to continue her volunteer efforts to make Centerville and Appanoose County a better place to live.
Tod Faris, AEDC executive director, announced Lee Container as the Investing in Appanoose County award winner.
Lee Container, which is based in Homerville, Ga., at their Centerville facility has gone from two production lines with 15 employees in 2008 to 125 employees and their 12th production line later this year, Faris said.
Accepting the award was Robert Varnedoe, Lee Container executive vice president, who gave credit to the staff and employees at the Centerville facility.
"It's been a true success story," Varnedoe said. "The good news is, we're not done growing."
Faris announced IHCC as the winner of AEDC's Outstanding Service to Appanoose County award.
Dr. Marlene Sprouse, IHCC executive vice president, accepted the award on behalf IHCC president and board of trustees.
Sprouse said she grew up in this area and went to work for IHCC to help make sure people in this area have opportunities.
Faris gave the director's report, where he focused on business and economic development in Appanoose County. AEDC is focused on growth and works to attract new businesses and help existing businesses.
Faris touched on ISU CIRAS sustainable economies program and the work of the five committees to improve Appanoose County, the need for signage to help direct people to places and events in Centerville, his efforts to market Appanoose County through redesigned websites and the local Revolving Loan Fund program.
In 5 1/2 years, the RLF program has loaned $672,750 to 28 local businesses that have created 105 new jobs and retained 124 jobs, Faris said. The loan money has leveraged $3.9 million of other funding.
Faris talked about Shark Fin Shears, a business relocating to Centerville. Construction of the estimated $500,000 facility at the Industrial Park is expected to begin May 1 with operations to start within 30 days.
"Efforts like this will continue to move Appanoose County forward in a positive way," Faris said. "We're destined for great things to come."
The second speech, by Debi Durham, director of Iowa Economic Development Authority, focused on state economic development and federal government imperfections.
Durham said Iowa is one of the best managed states in the country. Iowa has a $1 billion surplus and the state pension is 80 percent funded.
"We start with, we are in a great position because we are fiscally managed well," Durham said. "We're one of the few states that still has a triple A bond rating by all three rating agencies."
She said Iowa's future looks bright, except for one thing.
"Though Iowa is managed well, our federal government is far from it," she said. "The future is bright for us, but for the federal government."
One but for from the federal government, Durham said, was a $50 million bill for Medicaid and Medicare they couldn't pay and sent to Iowa.
Durham talked about Gov. Branstad's plan to create 200,000 new jobs, raise family incomes by 25 percent, cut the cost of state government by 15 percent, restore Iowa's educational system and make Iowa one of the healthiest states in the country.
"This is not the kind of economic development, community development, we've done in the past," Durham said. "This is really about a sustainable model of wealth creation."
Durham said economic development should be a non-partisan and non-political effort.
"We reasonably can and must do better in Iowa," Durham said. "I see an incredibly robust future for us. But for a few things that we can't control and some things we're working on. There is no greater state to promote."