The head of the board handing out about 180-million dollars in state funds for community attractions expects Iowa cities and counties to ask for up to two billion dollars. “Vision Iowa” chairman Michael Gartner, the owner of the Iowa Cubs baseball team, says his 13-member committee is overwhelmed by the applications. He says they haven’t handed out a penny yet, but he considers the program a success by the number of ideas generated for potential projects. Five cities have formally asked for state backing of local projects, and another 20 are expected to submit applications — but there’s no deadline. Gartner expects the board will make the very first award by June 30th. Gartner says they’ll try to be “Solomon like” in handing out the money.Gartner says the board will negotiate with cities to change the financial structure of a project to be sure they wring every last local dollar out. He says they don’t want to shortchange a project enough to kill it, or overfund one project so much that they don’t have enough money for other projects.Gartner testified today before the Iowa House and Senate Economic Development Committees. Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Marshalltown and Sioux City have already submitted applications for “Vision Iowa” grants or loans.
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