Partnership sets federal priorities
After five meetings spanning the first three months of the year, the Greater Des Moines Partnership has come up with a short list of main priorities for federal action, and a whole book of other policies its members support. Themes included looking for opportunities to create jobs, boost the workforce and encourage economic development.
At the top of the list:
- Money for airports. The Des Moines International Airport and others rely on a fee paid by passengers — unchanged since 2000 — to pay for new terminals and related infrastructure. There’s been talk of nearly doubling the passenger facility charge — but Congress has stranded the idea on the tarmac. The Des Moines airport is planning a new terminal and related projects, and the fee would be a key part of the financing. “Des Moines’ current airport terminal is rapidly becoming overcrowded and obsolete while also becoming a liability with respect to the state’s economic development efforts,” the Partnership notes.
- Trade. Iowa exported $12.1 billion in manufactured and value-added agricultural goods in 2016. With 75 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, the Partnership is supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement and other initiatives that open markets.
- Housing, including added spending for the Community Development Block Grant Program and other federal programs that support affordable housing.
- Transportation and infrastructure. The Partnership wants to see priorities set for maintaining existing facilities along with efforts to manage capacity, cater to diverse ways to get around, and reduce congestion.
- Arts and culture, with calls for more public investment in the arts that along with cultural and heritage offerings are a $185 million boost to the region’s economy.
“In a post-earmark world, we need to stay engaged,” said Joe Murphy, the Partnership’s senior vice president for government relations and public policy. “It’s important for [members of Congress and agency staffers] to hear what our investors are thinking.”
Approximately 180 local leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., May 9-11 for the Partnership’s annual lobbying trip to support those areas, and others detailed here.