Executives from the chambers of commerce in Iowa’s 17 largest cities are asking lawmakers to revive a state grant program that helped launch big-scale projects around the state.
The Iowa Chamber Alliance is asking the 2006 legislature to re-start the “Vision Iowa” program that gave state grants to projects like a Mississippi River museum in Dubuque and new arenas or “events centers” in Sioux City, Des Moines, Ottumwa and Council Bluffs.
Betsy Brandsgard, vice president of DavenportOne, says those large-scale projects have really helped change the images of those Iowa communities. “There’s really been no program that has been more effective, more successful or leveraged more resources than the Vision Iowa program,” Brandsgard says. Davenport got 24 million from the Vision Iowa board for renovation and construction along the Mississippi River.
Brandsgard says there’s been “tons” of private investment sparked by the development. “The spin-off benefits are tremendous,” she says. Brandsgard says 13 projects have received two-hundred-21 million dollars in state grants, leveraging about a billion dollars in total project costs. “It’s huge economic benefit” for the state, according to Brandsgard.
The Chambers of Commerce suggest that the state set aside 15 million dollars of gambling taxes, and use that money to leverage more funds so the Vision Iowa program can help bankroll more, large-scale projects. Iowa Chamber Alliance spokesman Dave Roederer says such “destination projects” spawn other development, like hotels and restaurants.
Here is a list of the cities which have received Vision Iowa grants: Cedar Rapids received five million; Council Bluffs received a 24 million dollar grant & seven million dollar loan; Davenport received 20 million; Dubuque received 40 million; Ottumwa received seven-and-a-half million; Des Moines/Polk County received a 55 million dollar grant and a 15 million dollar forgivable loan; Sioux City received 21 million; Cedar Falls/Waterloo received nine-and-a-half million; Clinton received three-point-three million; Shenandoah and Clarinda/Page County received 12 million; Des Moines received a second four million dollar grant (for the Des Moines river walk); Burlington/Des Moines County received five-and-a-quarter million; Storm Lake received eight million.)