Guest Opinion: Rural economic development drives Iowa’s growth
BPC Staff Nov 28, 2017 | 5:45 pm
2 min read time416 wordsBusiness Record Insider, Economic Development, Opinion
BY ALLAN DUFFE | Board director for the Central Iowa Power Cooperative
Economic development is critical for the success of Iowa. It takes on an even greater importance when dealing with the state’s rural economy.
To secure the continued growth and success of our state, we must focus on rural development programs that create sustainable jobs and livable communities across Iowa. To maintain a vibrant and growing economy, we must direct funding to all areas of Iowa. This is why programs such as the federal Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant (REDLG) program and the Revolving Loan Funds from our rural electric cooperatives are so important.
Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), the state’s leading generation and transmission cooperative, is committed to expanding and growing the communities served. As a board director, I’m honored to be a part of an organization that is committed to ensuring the growth and vitality of Iowa’s rural economy for the betterment of everyone.
CIPCO has funded 50 projects that created over 725 jobs in rural Iowa. The projects brought a total investment into the communities of more than $115 million. Without the support of rural economic development programs, most of this growth would not have occurred. Incentivizing rural growth empowers individuals to bring new ideas and options to the table for the benefit of rural Iowa. In the service territory of my cooperative, Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative, programs recently helped create the $22 million investment by a hatchery company, which added 42 new jobs to the economy in a rural community.
Ensuring that Iowa works to integrate both rural and urban areas narrows the economic gap, expands rural opportunities and encourages the growth of skilled employees in rural areas.
Supporting rural infrastructure is another area where cooperatives back rural economic development efforts. CIPCO and its member systems, using federal and cooperative loan programs, have supported hospital revitalization in Knoxville, Osceola, Grinnell and more. This sustained support of health care allows rural communities to grow and thrive.
Federal, state and local rural economic development programs are crucial for Iowa’s success. They create improved access to education, information and resources for continued growth.
Economic development and job growth are augmented through the programs. The resources enhance the evolution of sustainable growth throughout the region and encourage others to contribute.
As you embrace the state of Iowa, I encourage all citizens to engage with community and government leaders to embolden a commitment to rural economic development for the benefit of Iowa.