Perry Economic Development Inc. (PEDI) held its annual meeting and banquet Monday night at the Hotel Pattee, highlighted by an award presented to Dan Spellman for his longstanding volunteer service to Perry Industries and by a keynote address by Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham.
PEDI President Matt McDevitt reviewed the group’s 2022 successes, including a significant increase in acreage of the Perry Industrial Park and the erection of a new 30,000-square-foot spec building in the park, the continued expansion of Perry’s manufacturing base and — most visibly — PEDI’s acquisition and operation of the Hotel Pattee, the hub of Perry’s commercial culture.
The theme of Durham’s speech centered on economic growth in Iowa, particularly in the state’s three largest sectors: advanced manufacturing, biosciences and finance and insurance. She praised the Republican leadership in Des Moines for creating a business-friendly climate in the state in spite of current challenges in the wider world economy.
“Yes, there are headwinds,” Durham said, “but Iowa is doing a lot of right things, and I give Gov. Reynolds a lot of credit for that and the legislature because so much so that in the midst of all of this, we have been able to lower taxes.”
McDevitt thanked Durham and other attendees in “thought leadership” for challenging the PEDI board and pointing toward future economic development in Perry and across Iowa.
McDevitt welcomed two new members to the 15-member PEDI board of directors: Darren Lindstrom, a tax specialist at Meriwether, Wilson and Co. in Perry, and Joni Campidilli, a sales and marketing strategist at Percival Scientific in Perry.
He also thanked departing PEDI Treasurer Monica Scheib for her service, and he gave a special award to veteran board member Dan Spellman, who was warmly welcomed by the attendees.
Spellman described himself as “the last of the old guard” from the days of Perry Industries, and he said he was encouraged to see a new crop of younger businesspeople putting their shoulders to the wheel who are “competent, intelligent and knowledgeable about economic development in Iowa.”
Spellman emphasized the common efforts and shared partnerships that have made the Perry Industries and PEDI groups successful over two generations in Perry, including the mutual aid from the city of Perry, the Greater Dallas County Development Alliance, the Iowa Area Development Group, the IEDA and others.
“The common thread of economic development in Iowa is it takes all of us together as partners to do that, our utility companies and all the rest of our major industries,” Spellman said.
McDevitt also recognized other PEDI board members, including Vice President Deb Lucht, Secretary Eddie Diaz, Past President Dr. Tom Burkgren, Jon Peters, Terry Nielsen, Scott Finneseth, Jason Levan, Angela Mortoza, Mike Van Houweling, Jeff Huitt, David Finneseth and Jackson VanKirk.
Diaz, who also directs the DMACC Perry VanKirk Learning Academy, spoke briefly about PEDI’s ongoing efforts toward workforce development and retention and housing development.
Capping the event, art maven Jenny Eklund, a cofounder of the Art on the Prairie festival and a member of the management team at the Hotel Pattee, announced the awarding of a $2,500 Creative Places project grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to Perry Economic Development Inc. for a 2023 Perry mural project.