When You Need an Independent View

posted by Merlin Siefken on Monday, December 6, 2021

Our Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS) team of professional economists and analysts are proud of the independent views and objectivity they bring to every assignment.  In some cases, our independent view is sought by clients who are in the process of applying for grants or other types of funding.

In 2014 – and again in 2015 –, I had the opportunity alongside Spence Parkinson – our President, CEO, and Founding Partner – of working with the City of Grinnell and several other community partners in preparing and submitting pre-applications to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) for funding provided by the Iowa Reinvestment Act (IRA).  The IRA encouraged cities and municipalities to create reinvestment districts for economic development focused on creating new hotel/motel and retail operations within the district.  If approved, an IRA funding account would be established and a portion of the tax revenue from hotel/motel taxes and retail sales taxes would be deposited in the fund for use by the city or municipality in funding the developments within the district.

One of the requirements of the IRA application was a feasibility study for each project and an economic impact study for new district developments.  These studies were to be completed by independent professionals.  Spence met those qualifications for the economic impact studies and I had the necessary experience in conducting feasibility studies.

DIS had just started using the cloud-based SharePoint environment so we set up a collaboration site that permitted Spence and me to work with our Grinnell team members in producing the pre-application.  In a nutshell, our team scored high on the first application but just missed the cutoff for funding.  Our second attempt a year later was successful and the Grinnell team’s pre-application was accepted.  In the final step, we provided assistance in producing and submitting the final application.

The Grinnell team was very happy with our work and they have made significant progress in implementing the planned projects utilizing the necessary funds that are flowing into their IRA district fund account.

Fast forward to 2020.  The State of Iowa announced additional funding for the IRA program and we were subsequently contacted by three cities who had seen the work we did for Grinnell and wanted us to help them with their pre-applications.  We ended up working with the City of Newton and the City of Ames to prepare pre-applications and conduct the required feasibility studies and economic impact analyses.

Fortunately, both cities were approved and given the go-ahead to submit a final application.  We are confident that our reputation at the IEDA was a factor in our client’s receiving approval for IRA funding.  Our DIS team will soon be working with participants from each city in updating and submitting their final applications.

The DIS team has developed a reputation for quickly developing an understanding of our clients’ needs and providing a thorough and objective analysis of issues or challenges they face.  So, when you need an independent view, DIS is here to help.

About The Author

Merlin Siefken

Merlin Siefken contracts with Decision Innovation Solutions to provide Business Development services. He is responsible for maintaining and enhancing existing business relationships, conducting research of new product lines and service offerings, collaborating with the Decision Innovation Solutio ... read more