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Bank Iowa survey: Economic development most important community issue


Economic development ranks as the single most important issue for a majority of Iowa residents polled in communities across the state, according to an online survey of Bank Iowa customers conducted recently by the bank.

Nearly 60% of the survey’s respondents said economic development is the most important issue to them, followed by education, ranked by nearly 30% as most important, with health care ranked by nearly 10%. Inclusion, poverty relief and recreation/arts rounded out the list of most important issues. About 97% of the respondents are Bank Iowa customers.

The survey results are derived from responses by 920 Iowans from 22 of the 23 communities in which the bank has branches. Bank Iowa’s study is part of an effort to identify those Iowa community advancement hurdles that the bank may be able to help overcome. Similar to the family-owned bank’s Helping Hand initiative launched in the spring of 2020, the research is based on the principles of crowdsourcing.

“Meaningful community involvement begins with listening,” Jim Plagge, president and CEO of Bank Iowa, said in a release. “The bank may have its own concepts of what a particular community needs, but we’d rather hear what our neighbors think. That gives us much better aim when directing our resources at the most essential issues.”

With $1.7 billion in assets, Bank Iowa ranks as one of the leading independent ag banks and the second-largest family-owned bank in the state.

As part of the survey, which the bank intends to repeat on an annual basis, community members were asked to score Bank Iowa’s performance in helping improve on the community issues most important in their areas. Seventy-five percent of respondents across the state gave the bank a score of above-average impact, with more than 45% believing Bank Iowa has a high impact on economic development.

“We can do a lot for Iowa economic development just by doing our job,” Plagge said. “A community with a risk-averse bank is a community that will struggle with development.”

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