Iowa Caucuses: Top Issues Facing Business

January 8, 2016 | Iowa Caucuses: Top issues facing businesses Iowa Association of Business and Industry,

View the Iowa Caucus Toolkit for information you can use with your employees

As Iowans prepare to caucus next month, business leaders throughout the state are working to keep business issues front of mind.

“Issues important to business and the economy affect every Iowan, but oftentimes they don’t think of it that way,” said Nicole Crain, senior vice president for public policy of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI).

ABI is one of several organizations throughout the state working to educate voters and encourage employees to participate in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

“Iowans have a unique opportunity to talk with candidates about the issues that matter most and to help drive the national conversation,” Crain said. “The more people we can engage in that process, the better.”

ABI, in partnership with the Business and Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), created the Iowa Caucus Toolkit to help voters better understand how the caucuses work. The nonpartisan online resource, which is available at, provides step-by-step videos explaining the caucus process and information on how to talk with employees about getting involved.

The organization has also put together a presidential candidate video series in which candidates answer the same four questions on issues important to Iowa’s business community. Those videos and other information on where candidates stand on a whole host of topics allow voters to make side-by-side comparisons of those running to be president.

Among the issues most important to ABI members: workforce, national debt, regulation and health care.

“There’s a lot of information out there, but to really make it personal, to bring it home to our economic area, it’s important for employers to put the facts out there about an issue, whatever that issue is,” said Steve Dust, president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, who has been using the Iowa Caucus Toolkit as part of his get-out-the-vote efforts in northeast Iowa.

Throughout the past several months, Iowans have been bombarded with issue campaigns as individuals and organizations try to make their concerns a top priority for voters and candidates alike.

“Even though only one person will be elected president, all of those candidates are going to go somewhere,” said Tim Coonan, director of government relations for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. “They will receive a Cabinet position or play another important role in the future. The message is not lost on them even if they don’t win.”

Coonan’s organization has been emphasizing the need to create a plan for affordable, reliable electricity.

The cost of electricity is important for businesses, especially when it comes to deciding where to locate, he said.

Members of the electric cooperative association, which includes 650,000 consumers, have been attending events throughout the state and talking with candidates about the importance of reliable, affordable, safe and environmentally responsible electricity.

Regulation is another important issue for industries from manufacturing to banking.

“It’s probably our top issue,” said Sharon Presnall, senior vice president of government relations and compliance for the Iowa Bankers Association. “We’ve been highlighting a lot with candidates that there is a regulatory aspect that has been difficult for smaller community banks to manage, and it’s been confusing for consumers as well,” she said.

Providing an opportunity for business leaders and owners to speak with candidates directly is also important, said Kristin Failor, Iowa state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

“I think especially in a small business environment, if they don’t say anything, no one will,” Failor said. “They are the ones who can provide those firsthand, real-life experiences to our elected officials and candidates.”