Empower Rural IA task forces made recommendations

The task forces formed as part of Governor Kim Reynolds’ Empower Rural Iowa initiative last July made their initial recommendations earlier this month. Empower Rural Iowa is co-chaired by Lt Gov Adam Gregg and Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC) chair Sandy Ehrig.

Nick Sorensen, building/zoning officer and special projects coordinator for the city of Jefferson, is part of the Investing in Rural Iowa task force.

The task forces were charged with identifying needed legislative, regulatory and policy changes.

The Investing in Rural Iowa, Growing Rural Iowa and Connecting Rural Iowa task forces held Ideas Summits in Earlham, Holstein, Maquoketa, Mount Pleasant, Pella and Stanton. They considered ideas submitted by task force members and the public.

Common themes in the initial recommendations were to create an Office of Rural Affairs to assist with rural policy development and provide a permanent rural perspective; and 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

“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,” 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.”

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