The final Iowa Business Council Economic Outlook anticipates a positive start to 2020.

Just over 50% of voters expect company sales to rise by 1% to 7%. In the Iowa Business Council group, 63% expect higher sales in the next six months, according to a council press release.

“We are optimistic for Iowa’s overall economy as we conclude 2019,” said Joe Murphy, IBC executive director. “As we look to 2020, the Iowa Business Council will continue to champion solutions that create a streamlined and competitive tax climate, implement programs that actively cultivate a workforce pipeline and collaborate with other organizations to increase Iowa’s overall population and diversity.”

Growing the work force and retaining workers proved to be a key issue in 2019.

Just under 90% of those who voted said attracting, developing and retaining a quality workforce was their most difficult challenge in 2019.

Getting the right employees can prove another challenge. Over 60% of IBC members said information technology positions will be the toughest to fill, according to the release.

The greatest workforce needs in 2019 included data analysts, health care professionals, skilled tradesmen and hourly retail associates.

“We’re really engaging in future Iowa initiatives to have high quality available workforce we know will lead to future success in our state,” Murphy said.

Tariffs and trade uncertainty was named for impacting IBC members bottom line in 2019 by 55%.

However, the group is optimistic this will change soon. The United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement trade deal — USMCA — would in particular aid in Iowa’s growth.

“I think the trade discussions really impact every aspect of business within the state,” Murphy said.

This agreement would be a renegotiation with Canada and Mexico of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative website, the agreement is expected to create a more balanced, reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs for Americans and grows the North American Economy.

The House passed the agreement early in December and sent the proposed legislation to the Senate, which is expected to vote in January.

The deal has been lauded by both Republicans and Democratic members of Iowa’s congressional delegation.

Once passed, Murphy said this agreement would greatly add to the economy and stability of Iowa in the upcoming year. This would be on top of expected economic growth in the upcoming year.

“As far as the Iowa Business Council is concerned, we look forward to an upward economic trend,” he said.

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