Council Bluffs (IA) – Economic Development Strategic Plan

ChallengeAfter an extended period of population decline in the 1970s and 1980s, Council Bluffs has experienced steady employment and population growth. The city benefits from its central location within the growing Omaha metro area, its proximity to critical transportation nodes, and a successful gaming industry. Nevertheless, Council Bluffs faces real economic development challenges. There is a lack of shovel-ready sites for industrial development, as well as commercial office space to accommodate professional services. The community must retain its best talent and make itself more attractive to new talent. Many of the city’s core neighborhoods are in need of rehabilitation. Its job base is too dependent on lower-paying, blue collar jobs that require minimal education and skill levels. Finally, the citizens must elevate the image and expectations of what Council Bluffs could be. Furthermore, Council Bluffs must meet these challenges in difficult economic times.

ApproachTIP, with the strong encouragement of the city’s leadership, sought to address the question of Council Bluffs’ future economic vitality in a practical way. In the near term, the plan stressed meeting more traditional economic development needs such as additional financial resources, sites, and retention tools. These priorities are prescribed by the competitive environment for new investment and the current economic climate. However, the more deep-seated challenges of improving the talent base of the community and making it more attractive to new residents were also addressed.

OutcomeTIP Strategies presented the final plan to the Council Bluffs City Council in May 2009. The council unanimously voted to adopt the plan. Subsequently, community stakeholders began organizing task forces to implement the plan.

TIP Contact Jon Roberts

Photo credit Jan Tik

Photo credit Decumanus