Groups pushing for state investment in a project that would remake some John Deere Waterloo Works buildings into a new-fangled bio-tech park say it won’t happen if lawmakers don’t create a new state economic growth fund. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang of Brooklyn says the “Cedar Valley Tech Works” would help promote Iowa’s strengths. Lang says he wants a future in Iowa for his children, and he says in order to do that, state policymakers are going to have to do things differently than they have in the past. Lang says the Legislature can’t “put off to another year” this opportunity to “grow Iowa’s economy.” Prospects for the 890-million dollar state growth fund dimmed yesterday when Senate Republicans said they’re just about ready to “pull the plug” on it, and on income tax reform. But Governor Tom Vilsack isn’t willing to concede yet. Vilsack says he’s run a marathon before, and “the last couple miles of a long journey are the toughest and require the greatest amount of character.” Vilsack says the character of legislators and their leaders is being tested. Vilsack talked with legislative leaders privately this morning, and the Governor says there are “opportunities for consensus” on a number of items, so he’s “not giving up.” The Cedar Valley TechWorks is the second project to come forward for money from the not-yet-approved state economic development fund. John Deere has pledged to donate its buildings in Waterloo for use as a “Bioproduct Merchandise Mart” and a new national lab that’d test lubricants made from soybeans and other crops. The overall plan also calls for creation of an agricultural museum, on the site where the first “Waterloo Boy” tractor was made.
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