Business and Political Leaders Discuss Biggest Challenges Facing Heartland

DES MOINES, Iowa -- How is the Heartland faring in 2018? That was the topic on Thursday at a panel discussion (you can watch in full by clicking here) held in Des Moines. The Atlantic Magazine gathered policy makers, business and community leaders for an in-depth conversation on what the future holds for the middle of America.

Christina Moffatt, Director of Small Business Resources at the Greater Des Moines Partnership talked about the challenges small businesses here face.

"I think that the challenges that we face, especially with small businesses, when you have such low unemployment, it's really hard for these small businesses to survive when they don't have the labor pool to fill the jobs," said Moffatt. "And, it doesn`t matter if you`re a restaurant, it doesn`t matter if you`re skilled labor in a construction company, everybody really needs workers right now, and it's very difficult to get them."

In addition to not having enough people in the labor pool to fill the jobs that are open, Moffatt said protecting intellectual property is also a difficult challenge the small business community here faces.

"One of my main focuses is that, we host educational sessions every single month and for that specific example, we just had top five things you need to know to protect your intellectual property when employees leave," said Moffatt. "Because we know, I mean even bartenders leave and they walk with this cocktail recipe that you may have spent two months working on and now it's down the street and a dollar cheaper."

Referencing the flooding event of June 30, Mayor Frank Cownie said the City of Des Moines faces the challenge of climate security, as city leaders plan for the future.

"We`re not only looking at what infrastructure we have to put in place to handle some of these events," said Mayor Cownie. "I can`t imagine what the infrastructure would look like to handle ten inches of rain in three hours, but we`re thinking about it. But, we're also looking at where we build. I mean, we`re looking at the topography of this city and if we`re gonna grow and we are, where should we grow and how should we grow? And, how to build resiliently and sustainably, so that we can survive circumstances that are beginning to present themselves on a very regular basis, that looks like five hundred-year, thousand- year, 1500-year events, that all of a sudden are popping up every three, four years."