Montgomery County Courthouse

(Red Oak) -- MidAmerican Energy is honoring Montgomery County for its efforts to retain businesses and industries.

Montgomery County, along with the county's development corporation, received the company's BEST of Iowa Excellence Award for 2019 in a special ceremony at the Wilson Performing Arts Center in Red Oak Thursday afternoon. In this case, BEST is an acronym for Business Expansion and Strategic Trends. The award honors communities going above and beyond throughout the year with their business expansion and retention executive visits.

Shawnna Silvius is executive director of economic development with the Montgomery County Development Corporation. Silvius tells KMA News her county and agency were selected for its BRE program--which stands for Business, Retention and Expansion. She says the program involves yearly visits with the county's major businesses and industries.

"We usually meet with their entire top leadership team," said Silvius. "It's an opportunity for us to meet, and really get know what's going on with their industry or their company, with their workforce, with their investment in research and development, with their equipment. It's a way we can identify if we've got companies that are positioned to expand, if they're maturing or struggling with anything. It's an opportunity for us to help assist with anything like transportation or logistic issues, if there's anything as we as economic developers can work as advocates for them in helping their operations more effectively."

Information from those meetings is then entered in the statewide BEST database.

"That information is then used at the state level," she said. "to generate that BEST of Iowa report that they put out. It looks at all of these companies, and what's happening across the board at the state level. We can then generate our local reports, and compare them to the state report."

Silvius says the information gleamed from the reports helps her agency address certain issues.

"For instance, we identified with one company that housing, child care, fiber optics, broadband communication is important to them," said Silvius, "as well as to their employees. So, if we've got barriers that are keeping them from being able to hire and retain qualified good workers, those are issues that we need to address."

Silvius says the BRE meetings have helped MCDC shift its roles in economic development.

"We are having to get more involved in housing," she said, "and being proactive in the housing development, and rehabilitation arena. Also with child care--somebody has to come forward to push and make sure we have adequate child care. So, we are accommodating those needs for our workers."

Kossuth/Palo Alto Economic Development Corporation and Marion County Development Commission are the other entities receiving the BEST award.