Gov. Kim Reynolds this month received initial recommendations from three task forces charged with identifying needed legislative, regulatory and policy changes as part of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative. The governor established the initiative by executive order in July. It is co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC) Chair Sandy Ehrig.
“I’d like to thank our dedicated task force members for bringing forth excellent recommendations to meet the needs of rural Iowa – access to quality housing, leadership in our small communities and sustainable broadband connectivity,” Gov. Reynolds said. “For Iowa to truly be successful, we have to see growth in every corner of our state. We’ve seen positive things happening in our rural communities, but there’s still a lot to do. These recommendations are just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see how we will continue to empower rural Iowa in the future.”
“I am thankful Gov. Reynolds has made rural Iowa a priority in our administration and has entrusted me with leading the charge on this important initiative,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “Gov. Reynolds heard the concerns of Iowans, identified three of the main challenges and used this process to help identify solutions. That kind of leadership is rare, but I know it makes this effort that much stronger.”
The Investing in Rural Iowa Task Force, the Growing Rural Iowa Task Force and the Connecting Rural Iowa Task Force held Ideas Summits in six rural locations around Iowa – Earlham, Holstein, Maquoketa, Mount Pleasant, Pella and Stanton. They considered ideas submitted by task force members and the public.
Several common themes were identified in the initial recommendations. One was to create an Office of Rural Affairs to assist with rural policy development and provide a permanent rural perspective. Another was to create a database for rural communities to share available programs, best practices and development strategies.
Specific task force recommendations include:
Investing in Rural Iowa Task Force
- Assist rural Iowa communities in obtaining housing needs assessments
- Reform the workforce housing tax credit to make it more competitive and dedicate additional resources to the rural set-aside
Growing Rural Iowa Task Force
- Create an Empowered Rural Communities recognition program
- Create leadership pathways for recognized empowered rural communities
Connecting Rural Iowa Task Force
- Optimize the existing broadband grant program to ensure state funding stretches as far as possible
- Identify a consistent source of funding for the broadband grant program