The chairman of the “Vision Iowa” board that’s handing out state money for large-scale community projects says county and city leaders need to take bolder steps to revitalize the state.Counties have very little debt, and “Vision Iowa” chairman Michael Gartner says if counties were to borrow a little bit for community improvements, “Iowa would blossom.” Gartner says in his work on the board, he’s seen a problem: very few Iowa cities and counties willing work cooperatively on projects. Gartner says the two entities seem to think they have different constituencies, when they really don’t.Gartner says he and the “Vision Iowa” board have forced cities and counties to work together on the projects which have received state grants. He cites the recent award to Davenport which required cooperation with Scott County and private officials.Gartner says he’d expand the program, but only if all the gambling referendums in Iowa pass next year. The “Vision Iowa” board is handing out 190-million dollars, money backed by state gambling taxes. Gartner says a decade from now, if he’s alive, he’ll be immensely proud of the grants which have helped finance things like arenas, museums and educational centers.Gartner says the crane will soon be the state bird because of all the investments the state’s making. Projects in Dubuque, Davenport, Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Des Moines have all received “Vision Iowa” backing. There’s only 15-million dollars left to be handed out, and Gartner says he’d like more state dollars committed to the effort.Gartner made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press”.
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