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Making rural Iowa stronger

By Staff | Jan 20, 2020

Iowa’s economy is robust and getting stronger. It has a quality of life that makes those of us who call Iowa home reluctant to even contemplate living anywhere else.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has made stimulating economic development a key goal of her administration. She understands that unless Iowa’s job opportunities continue to grow and diversify the state will not be all that it can and should be.

The governor recognizes that some of the Hawkeye State’s rural communities are not fully sharing in what overall has been an enviable growth record. She is committed to making sure all parts of Iowa have the chance to thrive. That’s why in 2018 Reynolds launched the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative.

Throughout 2019 task forces have been hard at work holding summits all across Iowa to gain input for developing recommendations to the governor. This month she received a comprehensive report containing proposals for 2020 and beyond. According to a statement released by Reynolds’ office this document will help shape the game plan the governor outlines early next year for action by the Legislature.

“By connecting, investing and growing our rural communities, we can ensure Iowa’s success is every Iowans’ success,” Reynolds said. “We know how to come together to think differently and build an Iowa that shatters expectations.”

The goal is to offer opportunities for prosperity everywhere in our state. The mission is to revitalize those parts of rural Iowa that are lagging.

Here are some of the recommendations contained in the report the governor received.

– Increase set-asides for rural areas and small towns in a wide range of state programs.

– Increase the $1 million cap on Main Street Challenge grants.

– Support rural housing projects.

– Provide grant support for programs designed to develop leaders in rural areas.

– Support grants aimed at generating innovation in rural communities.

– Strengthen efforts to make broadband internet access more widely available.

These suggestions warrant careful consideration. Throughout the report there is an emphasis on promoting private sector solutions to making rural Iowa prosper. The recognition that top-down government mandates aren’t the best approach is especially welcome.

Farm News applauds the hard work that went into this report. We look forward to the program for rural Iowa that the governor will outline next month. Reynolds’ commitment to making all parts of our state success stories deserves strong praise and support.

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