Sorensen appointed to Empower Rural Iowa task force

Nick Sorensen, building and zoning officer for the city of Jefferson, has been appointed to one of three task forces that comprise Gov Kim Reynolds’ Empower Rural Iowa initiative.

Reynolds created the initiative last month by executive order. The initiative creates a partnership with the Iowa Rural Development Council to identify needed legislative, regulatory and policy changes leading to solutions for the challenges of rural Iowa. The goal is to maintain the vibrancy of rural Iowa and increase opportunity.

Sorensen was appointed to the Investing in Rural Iowa task force, which will focus on recommending ways to improve access to quality housing in rural Iowa.

Sorensen said he hopes to share his experience in developing housing in a rural town, and that he’ll advocate for the state to hire a rural housing expert who would be available to assist towns.

A Growing Rural Iowa task force will focus on identifying ways to encourage leadership development and strategic development in rural communities. A Connecting Rural Iowa task force will examine effectively and sustainably financing connectivity.

The task forces will begin meeting this fall. Initial recommendations will be due by the end of the year so they can be considered during the 2019 legislative session.

Each task force has five ex officio members and 22 citizen members. Three members of each task force also serve on an executive council.

Co-chairs of the Empower Rural Iowa initiative are Lt Gov Adam Gregg and Sandy Ehrig, chair of the Iowa Rural Development Council and leader of Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa program.

The initiative will kick off in September with three Ideas Summits. Task force members will be asked to come with a developed proposal on how to address the topic.

There are also several ways the public can get involved. The Ideas Summits will be open to all Iowans and include time for public comment. Iowans who aren’t able to attend the Ideas Summits will be able to submit their ideas online at iowa.gov/rural. The website will also include more information on the task force members, meetings and news.

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