The new board that’s handing out the millions in new state economic development money met this week, and decided to set some wage expectations for the companies that’d qualify. Some Republicans say wage restrictions will penalize start-up companies that can’t pay big-time wages but have the potential to be powerhouses. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack says wage guidelines might be waived in some instances. Vilsack says state officials want to make sure the jobs created through the Iowa Values fund are jobs that can adequately support families, but there may be “unusual circumstances” in which wages aren’t the main aspect of awarding the grant. But he says wage levels will “certainly be a key component.” Ron Corbett, president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, says wage expectations make sense when such big sums of state aid are being handed out. Corbett says the fund should be used to help create “high-end jobs” that provide a “liveable wage for people.” Siouxland Chamber of Commerce president Debi Durham agrees that wage levels are an important consideration. She, though, is concerned that the temporary rules for the program are too murky. Durham has read the rules, and says her first question is “what are the rules of engagement?” She hopes the board works through the rules very quickly and provides more guidance to communities that’re working on business prospects that might qualify for a state loan. State officials say they have over one-hundred companies that’ve expressed an interest in locating or expanding in Iowa if they win a forgiveable loan from the new Iowa Values Fund.
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