BY CHUCK SODERBERG
You depend on your local electric cooperative to power your life every day, but did you know that your co-op also powers economic growth in your region?
Earlier this year, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives commissioned an economic impact study through the esteemed Goss & Associates of Omaha. This study confirmed what we’ve long known about our association members: Iowa’s locally owned electric co-ops contribute greatly to the state’s economy.
For the five years ending in 2021, the study found that Iowa electric co-ops generated a total impact on the state of $4.8 billion, produced $688 million in wages and salaries, directly supported 1,961 jobs, generated self-employment income of $79.5 million and paid $144.7 million in state and local taxes.
Powering people and communities
Powering lives and empowering communities are at the core of our cooperative mission. This economic analysis is helpful as we talk with legislators, policymakers and other decision-makers about how electric cooperatives invest in rural Iowa. For more than 80 years, electric co-ops have maintained reliable and affordable electric service, provided stable career opportunities and paid taxes, which have vast ripple effects throughout the regions we serve.
Not only have electric co-ops’ economic impacts been historically significant, but the study also concludes that co-ops have assisted local and state organizations in retaining, attracting and expanding businesses in the state. Separate from their spending impacts, electric cooperatives invest in efforts to attract and retain jobs and investment within their communities.
In addition to their daily duty of providing safe, reliable and affordable power, the study found that Iowa electric cooperatives had an impact of $14.7 billion in economic development projects between 2018 and 2022, supporting 7,366 jobs (retained, attracted or expanded) during that same time period.
An important connector
Your electric cooperative has undoubtedly supported many economic development initiatives over the decades by serving as an intermediary for U.S. Department of Agriculture revolving loan funds, among other programs and projects. For example, several Iowa electric co-ops have been instrumental in developing industrial speculative buildings to accommodate local business expansion or to attract new businesses and jobs to the community. Iowa’s electric cooperatives also give generously to local charitable causes and support youth education initiatives.
You should be proud of your local electric co-op’s contributions to Iowa’s economy. As a member-owned and locally governed entity, your electric co-op is more than a service provider; it’s a major economic engine of progress for your community.
Economic Impact: By the Numbers
For the five years ending in 2021, Iowa electric cooperative investments and operations generated the following impacts on the state of Iowa.
$14.7 billion impact in economic development projects
$4.8 billion of overall economic activity
$688.1 million in wages and salaries
$79.5 million of self-employment income
$144.7 million in state and local tax collections
Average 1,961 jobs supported each year
Chuck Soderberg is the executive vice president and general manager of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.