In the wake of last month’s record flooding, state officials are tying to find a balance between re-opening existing Iowa businesses and attracting new ones. The Iowa Department of Economic Development proposes using money from the Iowa Values Fund to help damaged companies make much-needed repairs, but deputy director Vince Lintz says part of the fund must be reserved for recruiting new businesses.
Lintz says: "We have to stay aggressive and still attracting new businesses and growing those jobs here within the state. If we don’t, we’re going to fall behind. It makes it tough. We’ve still gotta’ do the recovery but we still have to maintain and continue to grow."
He says the legislature may have to re-write the rules for the Iowa Values Fund before the money can be used to help existing businesses make repairs. Lintz says Iowa may be facing a public relations and recruiting challenge right now because of the worldwide news reports of the June floods.
"One of the problems we have here in the state is that everybody reads about Iowa and they feel that we’re all under ten feet of water right now," Lintz says. "We’ve gotta’ promote the state as ‘business as usual,’ and try to continue on." He says the Department of Economic Development is considering a forgivable loan program for existing Iowa businesses that were damaged during the flooding.
He says the grants could go to businesses based on conditions like if they return to business and hire back at least 90% of the pre-flood staff at the same or better salary. Lintz estimates this would require a ten-to-15-million dollar appropriation by the state legislature.