ABI Announces Coolest Thing - Monday Memo 1/15/24

January 15, 2024

ABI Announces Coolest Thing Made in Iowa

At last week’s annual legislative reception (see more below), ABI unveiled its brand-new statewide competition in search of the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa. ABI is proud to partner with longtime member MidWestOne Bank to host this exciting competition, set to showcase the Iowa manufacturing industry. 

ABI and MidWestOne are joining nearly 20 other state associations who have hosted similar successful competitions. Nominated products in other states have ranged from motorcycles, military vehicles, cheese products, boats, generators, food carts, iron castings, beer, all-terrain vehicles, snow blowers and much, much more.  Nominations and voting will be open to the public. After products are nominated, they will compete in a popular vote that sets the field for a tournament-style bracket. The Top 16 Iowa-made products will compete in head-to-head matchups to be named the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa. 

The winner will be announced at the annual Taking Care of Business Conference in June in Davenport.  Watch for more news soon. 

ABI Holds Smash Legislative Briefing, Reception

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, the leadership of the Iowa General Assembly, dozens of legislators of both parties and chambers, statewide elected officials such Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, State Treasurer Roby Smith, state department heads, and ABI members have shared great comments regarding the 2024 ABI Legislative Briefing and Reception held last week.  The nasty weather didn’t stop a large crowd from attending, with hundreds of on hand for the event. 

Prior to the reception, the annual legislative briefing was highlighted by remarks by ABI Vice President Public Policy JD Davis, ABI Senior Director Public Policy Brad Hartkopf, and ABI Executive Vice President Nicole Crain.  ABI Board Member Chip Reeves(MidWestOne Bank, Iowa City) also spoke regarding a special announcement about the new ABI initiative to find the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa (see above item). 

ABI members from every corner of the state and from many states outside Iowa were on hand to connect with state officials.  It is that interaction with legislators that is so vital and that makes the event such a critical component to advancing ABI’s agenda each year.  

By the way, while we appreciate the large crowd, what is more satisfying is the number of the attendees who say they conduct business and make important connections at the briefing and reception.  Many thanks for the good words you have shared about the event and for the work of ABI staff.  THANK YOU for making the 2024 ABI Legislative Briefing and Reception exceptional events.  

First ABI Legislative Zoom Meeting of 2024 on the 19th

ABI's Public Policy team will hold 2024’s first monthly Zoom conference related to the work of the Iowa General Assembly this coming Friday.  The meeting will be held January 19 at 8:00 a.m.  The Zoom conferences typically last about 30 minutes and you and your employees are invited to participate.  Please click here for more information about the call, free and open to ABI members only: Register now at Legislative Update (Members Only) | Iowa Association of Business and Industry (iowaabi.org).  

Board Holds First Meeting of 2024

Members of the ABI Board of Directors met Wednesday.  ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) led the board through a fast-paced meeting, which was the board's first of 2024.  Strong attendance and participation marked what was a great meeting of the board.  The meeting was followed by the annual legislative briefing and reception.  Thank you to all of you who joined us in Des Moines last week. 

Iowa STEM Officials Desire Teacher Externship Participation

ABI has long supported efforts to grow opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in Iowa.  In fact, former ABI Chair Cindy Dietz (Collins Aerospace, Cedar Rapids) is a longtime leader in Iowa’s STEM community. 

Officials with the Governor’s STEM Council have approached ABI to seek your participation (many of you do already participate) in the summer educator externship program, through which teachers join your company and learn first-hand how their work impacts student career education.  Learn more about externships here: Iowa STEM Teacher Externships | Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council

2024 ABI Convention Generating Buzz; Hotels Filling Fast

You know that the annual ABI Taking Care of Business Conference has been growing in terms of attendance and support for the past several years.  The upcoming meeting will be ABI's 121st Annual Meeting and it will be held June 4-6 in Davenport.  

The 2024 conference is generating a lot of interest, with people in Davenport especially excited to host ABI members from all over Iowa.  At the conference, you will hear from terrific speakers and get great information.  And of course you will see Iowa's best business networking occur at this event. 

Work continues to ensure the conference is a fabulous event.  The flagship conference hotel, the Hotel Black Hawk, is filling fast.  Other terrific hotels have been reserved for the conference lodging list.  For now, click here for more information: http://www.iowaabi.org/events/annual-conference/.  By the way, the conference registration website will go live next month.  

Coming February 1: Automation Summit at DMACC Carroll Campus

Another high-value event has been added to ABI’s program calendar in February. On February 1, ABI will host an automation summit.  ABI is partnering with members CIRAS, Des Moines Area Community College, and KineticTechnologies on this high-value seminar. 

The seminar will be held at DMACC’s Carroll campus on February 1st.  You’ll hear from experts, from fellow manufacturers with hands-on experience, and others.  Lunch will be served.  Click here for more information and to register: Summary - Automation Summit (cvent.com)

Business Day in Des Moines; March Board Meeting on March 6

Last year, ABI held the first Business day in Des Moines event.  The event brought the Governor and legislative leaders of both chambers and both parties to you, ABI members.  The day was a huge success, with members urging it be continued.  

For that reason, we are excited to tell you that the second edition of Business Day will be held March 6 at the Des Moines Heritage Center in Des Moines’ East Village (the Heritage Center is located a block south of the ABI office).  A terrific program has been developed, featuring BIPAC political expert Jim Ellis from Washington, DC as the keynote speaker.  Iowa elected leaders will also be back this year.  For now, click here to register or to find more information: Summary - Business Day in Des Moines (cvent.com).

The March meeting of the ABI Board of Directors will follow ABI’s Business Day in Des Moines.  Please mark your calendars to join your ABI colleagues in Des Moines on March 6. 

iJAG Asks for Your Help

Many ABI members support Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (the organization is itself an ABI member).  You can find more information about iJAG here: Home - iJAG.  iJAG helps youth prepare for the workplace and often works with youth facing serious challenges.  iJAG is looking for volunteers for its Career Development Conference (CDC)  on March 28th. Sponsorships and volunteer judging opportunities for the day are available.  Click on the link or reply to this memo for more information. 

ABI Legislative Reception Photos Available Soon; Check Events Calendar

As noted above and thanks to you, the 2024 ABI Legislative Reception was a terrific event.  The event was incredibly successful and was an important part of advancing ABI’s public policy agenda for the year.  Photographs will soon be posted to the ABI website here: http://www.iowaabi.org/events/photos/.  You might be in them!  

In the meantime, many of you have asked about upcoming events.  I encourage you to check the ABI events calendar often at http://www.iowaabi.org/events/ to see the extensive list of ABI meetings and events coming up in the next few weeks.  There is always a lot happening at ABI. 

Tim Conlon Named Dubuque’s First Citizen

It was fun to learn that ABI Board Member Tim Conlon (Conlon Construction, Dubuque) was honored recently.  Tim was named the recipient of the 2023 First Citizen Award by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald newspaper.  

The TH noted that Tim’s more than 45 years of charitable work and his leadership of so many organizations were a major factors in his being honored.  Click here to read more: First Citizen: Local builder constructing charitable legacy in Dubuque | Tri-state News | telegraphherald.com.  Tim is an all-around great guy and ABI is proud to be one of the organizations that benefits from his strong, quiet leadership.  Congratulations, Tim! 

It’s an October Wedding for the Reece Family

It was also fun to learn that ABI Vice Chair Chad Reece (Winnebago Industries, Forest City) and his family will be celebrating this fall. Elli Reece, Chad and wife Kris Reece’s youngest daughter, will be married in Menlo, Iowa, in October.  ABI sends congratulations to Elli, her beau, and to Kris and Chad! 

Paul Gregoire and John Schreurs Mark Birthdays

Two more ABI leaders are marking birthdays.  Celebrating this month are former Fisher-Emerson executive/former ABI Chair Paul Gregoire and former Board Member John Schreurs (Strategic America, West Des Moines).  Happy birthday to Paul and John!

Editor’s Note: Perry, Iowa, and Osmundson Operations

You know ABI Board Member Heather Bruce (Osmundson Mfg. Co., Perry).  She is a strong and very successful business leader.  When she speaks, people listen.  She cares deeply for her family, company, employees, and her community.  When the news of the shootings in Perry hit on January 4th, I immediately thought of Heather, as I’m sure did many of you. 

Following the shootings, Heather and her team are doing a great deal to help Osmundson employees and the community of Perry.  At last week’s board meeting, I asked what ABI can do to help.  Heather noted a fund has been established at a local bank (Racoon Valley Bank) to help victims and their families.  You can contribute and if you have questions, please contact joyce.scott@g.perry.k12.ia.us.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Perry (and victims of other Iowa school shootings). 

Osmundson also has a need for an operations leader, a C-suite executive to help advance the company’s manufacturing and production.  If you know of someone who might fit the bill, please contact Heather or me.