- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa wants to establish centers around the state that will help residents and local businesses succeed, a plan officials say is necessary with the rapidly changing economy.

The school currently is working on the first of possibly a series of “engagement centers,” said David Reed, university vice president for research and economic development. He announced the program Thursday night during the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce banquet in Coralville, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (http://icp-c.com/1dUupZy ).

“The university is going to step up its game,” he said. “We will hire people whose only job is to help people be successful - and not just university-based businesses.”

He said each engagement center would provide tailored advice, business education, entrepreneurial training, technical training and IT-based training to meet each area’s skills shortage.


“We are positioned to be successful, but to do so we have to work together and believe in what is possible,” he said.

Reed said he spent the past year around the state talking to people about what can boost their local economy. He said giving people the skills they need to be competitive is crucial.

“We have jobs we can’t fill because we can’t find qualified people to fill them, and we have people leaving the state to take other jobs,” he said.

Public universities can help boost economic development, Reed said.

“Public universities are changing,” he said. “Their job is to serve us - addressing our economic needs and educational needs.”

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/