ABI Members Make Iowa Better

December 6, 2018 | Mike Ralston

Mike Ralston, President, ABI

An ABI member reminded me of a column I wrote a few years ago. He told me that with all the negative political rhetoric flowing across Iowa right now, it might be time to see it again. It has been edited slightly to make it more timely.

The open rate for the ABI e-newsletter is statistically very high. Knowing how busy you are, all of us at ABI appreciate you taking the time to open and read this newsletter each week. Once each month, I write a column for the newsletter and blog, and this month's column is a bit different than those I have written in the past.

As you know, I typically share information about upcoming ABI events or news from the ABI Board of Directors or both. This month, my comments are more general, and they relate to troublesome trends in some parts of our country.

It seems as if everywhere one turns, business is the subject of negative remarks. Some rail against the perceived injustice of the economy. Some lament terrible actions on the part of some business people and unfairly blame all businesses for the actions of some. Some exhort job creation and then lambast the very companies that are creating those jobs.

Business people are like every other group of human beings. They aren't perfect. But, as a group, the people leading ABI member companies are terrific individuals. They care about their companies, about their employees and about their communities. They ensure they are paying a fair wage and providing benefits. They encourage their employees to help with community endeavors. They make our state a better place to live.

The American system of free enterprise, of capitalism in general, has made a huge positive impact in the world. It has allowed individuals to improve their lives and the lives of their children. It has made cities and states and our nation stronger.

That is why I am passionate about ABI. There is no more positive organization anywhere. You can't own or run a business and not be an optimist. Against all odds, against terrible economies, against conditions outside one's control, ABI member company executives and workers come to the job every day. They make things or they build things or they offer services that make things better. And they do so knowing that good hard work is the thing that can make a difference.

ABI's mission to improve economic opportunity for Iowa businesses (and thus for all Iowans) is one that everyone should support. I'll never understand people who generalize against business people or businesses themselves.

ABI is not a political organization, though impacting political activity is important to our work. ABI is not an educational organization, though telling the story of business and educating Iowans about its positive impact is vital. ABI is not a community development organization, though programs such as those produced by the ABI Foundation certainly make communities stronger.

ABI is all about adding value for members and increasing their opportunity for success.

One example of ABI's positive outlook is the association's Elevate Iowa initiative. Through that initiative, ABI seeks to raise the profile of manufacturing careers, connect Iowans with training and connect Iowans with great jobs. Ultimately, by working together to grow Iowa's economy and create jobs, we create increased economic opportunity for workers AND business owners and executives.

The point of this column, on behalf of ABI Chair David Bywater and our other officers, is simply to thank you and your business. Yes, for your investment in ABI. But even more for your investment in Iowa. At ABI, we never take it for granted.

Mike Ralston is president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI). You may email him at mralston@iowaabi.org.