JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Coalition forces and members of the Balad Provincial Reconstruction Team hosted the first Iraqi banking and finance conference here for Iraqi business investors, future entrepreneurs and local government leaders Tuesday.

In addition to city managers from the cities of Yethrib, Ishaki and Dubuiya, Soldiers from 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment were joined by approximately 80 local Iraqi businessmen to discuss how investors can invest, develop businesses and build local economy in and around Balad.

Amir Abdul-Hadi, the Mayor of Balad district, stated there are many profitable projects but that investors' money and business knowledge are needed to increase growth.

"We will support you (business leaders) with the security issue," Abdul-Hadi said. "We're going to support you with anything you need to build your business or factories for the sake of developing this area."

Joe Pinon, Balad Satellite Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader, said he meets every day with Iraqi investors wanting to invest in businesses and people with business ideas without money. He stated the best thing he can do for the Iraqis is to connect them - allowing them to work amongst themselves.

"The best solution is to have Iraqis meet each other and invest with each other," Pinon said.

Maj. Rebecca B. McElwan, the commander for the 3d ESC's 106th Finance Management Company, said Iraqi provincial business leaders do not get together on a regular basis. She said conferences like this help Iraqis work together for a common goal to support the country's business and banking industry.

"Bankers are leaders in their communities," McElwan said. "They represent the banking community and the business community as well."