Article by: Chris Giesen
As a part of its expanded marketing program, in 2017 CEDA initiated a more formal government relations program headed by CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen. The goal of this new outreach program is not to “lobby” government officials on specific programs or to try to influence legislation but to educate our government leaders in a nonpartisan manner on economic and community development issues and their impact/potential impact on communities that CEDA serves.
“We want to develop better long-term relationships at all levels of government,” Giesen said. “We want to raise awareness and increase the visibility of our CEDA communities, provide expert advice in the field of economic development to our government leaders, and be able to utilize the relationships we build to the benefit of our communities when a project, issue, or disaster needs additional government assistance.” Giesen continued, “we have been meeting with legislators for several years to talk about economic development but we wanted to grow our effort.”
Every year, CEDA will meet with state legislators that represent all of CEDA’s communities in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Earlier this month, CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler and Giesen met with 9 of the 10 federal legislators that represent CEDA communities in their Washington, DC offices. A highlight of this visit was our meeting with Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa) where we discussed housing and workforce needs. She agreed that we need to have flexible tools that will work in our rural communities. A week later, at the Howard County Business and Tourism annual meeting in Cresco, Iowa, Senator Ernst was the featured speaker and in her speech, she thanked Zeigler and Giesen for visiting her to discuss those important issues and that she appreciates the work that we are doing.
CEDA looks forward to growing these relationships for our communities and will keep you posted on our meetings and conversations!