Governor Tom Vilsack wants to refashion Iowa’s premier economic development grant and loan program. State officials created “Community Economic Development Awards” or CEBA grants in the depths of the 1980s farm crisis to give Iowa cities money to use to attract businesses, or get existing industries to expand. Other states have targeted a wide-variety of businesses, in a single industry. Vilsack will ask legislators to revamp Iowa’s economic development program, and direct the grants to three specific industries rather than just any business or community.He says targeting the grants to life science, advanced manufacturing and “information solutions” firms fits the state’s long-term economic interests because those industries pay higher wages.Vilsack has asked a task force to evaluate Iowa’s workforce and the availability of business loans. The group’s also to identify restrictive state regulations and taxes. Vilsack says Iowa’s effort will also focus on finding out if there are ways the state can, for example, ease regulations so businesses can more easily get their products in the hands of customers.Vilsack has been meeting with his top economic development aides to draft the proposal, which will be formally delivered to legislators in January.
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