The director of Iowa’s Economic Development Department says the new state “Iowa Values Fund” is on track to help create or retain 10-thousand jobs in just its first year. Michael Blouin says they started in January of ’03 with 51 “live” active prospects in the whole state, and today have 353, a sevenfold increase and an unprecedented load he doesn’t see letting up any time soon. Blouin says it’s a positive sign that the Values Fund is working and companies are responding. The Iowa Values Fund board yesterday doled out more than 850-thousand dollars in loans and forgivable loans to six Iowa companies. That latest round of loans is expected to help create 161 new jobs and retain another 84. Blouin says he’s amazed how many companies and real estate developers across the country know about the Iowa Values Fund. The Legislature and Governor created the 500-million dollar economic development initiative last year, but provided just enough money for its first year. Blouin says that word apparently isn’t out yet. Blouin said we need more discussion about it, because he’d like people talking with their candidates in both parties, in both houses of the legislature during the primary and general elections so they’ll be willing to make some commitments to the fund in time for the next legislative session. Blouin says when legislators convene next January, they should immediately approve a financing plan for the Values Fund, or projects will have to be turned away.
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