Save the date - May 15th, 2024

Please save the date for DEV24, which will be held on May 15th, 2024 at 7 a.m at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Convention Complex in Cedar Rapids, IA.

A Pre-Conference Social will be held the night before, May 14th, from 5-7 p.m at Big Grove Brewery in Cedar Rapids, IA.

A block of rooms have been secured at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. For more information and to book your room, please visit the link below.

Book room

If you have questions about DEV24, please contact Chaz Allen

About DEV24

Formerly known as the SMART Conference, this newly reimagined forum is dedicated to addressing development from a variety of fresh perspectives. Iowa’s business, community, industry and education leaders will gather to talk about economic development but also community and personal development through such themes as

  • Workforce development
  • Infrastructure development
  • Policy development
  • Placemaking
  • Higher education innovations
  • Transportation
  • Energy development

2024 Announced Speakers

The Iowa Utility Association will present flexible, relevant tracks that relate to attendees’ unique interests. Our current line-up of speakers are Ernie Goss, Ph.D, Beth Townsend, and Mark C. Perna.

Erine Goss, Ph.D.

Ernie Goss, Ph.D. is the Jack MacAllister Chair in Economics at Creighton University. He is also principal of the Goss Institute in Denver, Colo. Dr. Goss, a U.S. military veteran, is a former faculty research fellow at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. He was a visiting scholar with the Congressional Budget Office.  He has published more than 100 research studies focusing primarily on economic forecasting and on the statistical analysis of business and economic data. His book Changing Attitudes Toward Economic Reform During the Yeltsin Era was published by Praeger Press, and his book Governing Fortune: Casino Gambling in America was published by the University of Michigan Press. He is editor of Economic Trends, an economics newsletter published monthly with more than 10,000 subscribers, produces a monthly business conditions index for the nine-state Mid-American region, and conducts a survey of bank CEOs in 10 U.S. states.  Each month 75-100 radio stations carry his Regional Economic Report.

Beth Townsend - Executive Director

Iowa Workforce Department

Director Townsend has general supervision over the various services IWD provides to Iowans. The Director prepares, administers, and controls the budget of the agency and its divisions.

Director Townsend has been in her current position since 2015 when she was first appointed by Governor Branstad. Director Townsend was reappointed by Governor Reynolds in January 2019 and again in January 2023 and confirmed by the Iowa Senate after each respective appointment. She previously served as the Director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Director Townsend served in the United States Air Force and ultimately retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel after 21 years of active and reserve duty.

Mark C. Perna

Acclaimed Keynote Speaker

Mark C. Perna is the founder and CEO of TFS Results, a full-service strategic consulting firm at the forefront of the national paradigm shift in education and workforce development. As an international generational expert, Mark has devoted his career to empowering educators and employers to unleash the tremendous potential of today’s young people. Mark founded the Education with Purpose & Employment with Passion movement to help communities connect the pipelines between education, business, and economic development. Mark serves on the Advisory Council for the Coalition for Career Development and is a member of the International Economic Development Council, both in Washington, DC. 

Mark is a weekly contributor at, where his work reaches an audience of over 4 million. He interviews frequently on radio shows, television, and podcasts, and his library of episodes on The Perna Syndicate podcast reaches listeners in more than 70 countries. His multi-award-winning bestseller, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations, was written to help educators, employers, and parents understand and motivate the millennial and Z generations.