MANCHESTER — Around 20 Iowa communities are hosting local employers and state leaders this fall for what are known as Future Ready Iowa summits.

Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend says it’s an ideal opportunity to discuss Governor Kim Reynolds’ goal of continuing to build a skilled workforce in Iowa. Townsend says, “Future Ready Iowa is the initiative to align our workforce and education program so we can get 70% of Iowans between 25 and 64 upscaled and trained to have post-secondary credentials by 2025.”

Townsend says one goal of the summits is to get business leaders to sit down with their counterparts from within the same community in order to discuss what’s working. “You had local employers coming in to talk to other local employers about the benefits of work-based learning programs in their facilities, or working with the disabled, or recruiting from communities you may not have otherwise thought about recruiting from,” Townsend says. “It’s been a great way to share those success stories.”

The most recent Future Ready Iowa summit was held this past Friday in Manchester. Townsend says all of the attendees were encouraged to keep moving forward. “I am hoping that we’ll have employers who want to access and leverage the Employer Innovation Fund and put in an application to get some assistance or a match to help them address a barrier to training here in the community,” Townsend says. “It’s a program that’s going to keep going. We’re going to meet our goal by 2025 so we’re going to stay engaged.”

The summits began in September and will run into November. Upcoming summits are planned in: Cedar Falls on Tuesday, Indianola on Wednesday, Spencer on Thursday, Davenport on Friday, and in the coming weeks in: Jefferson, Conrad, Carter Lake, Cedar Rapids, Garner, Orange City, Ida Grove, Farley, Chariton, Cherokee and Ames.