The head of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development says he’s running out of state grant money for businesses, and lawmakers must fill the gap soon. D-E-D director Michael Blouin says without legislation to restore the “Iowa Values” economic development fund, he’ll have less than a million dollars to work with — significantly less than has been promised to businesses. Blouin says the situation is precarious, especially if any of the businesses promised grants from the now-defunct “Iowa Values Fund” demand payment immediately. Blouin says if one of those businesses were to walk in tomorrow and ask for their money, they’d get priority “and frankly we’d crash and burn at that point.” Blouin says there’s so little money, the agency can’t even meet one-month’s-worth of requests. He says one-and-a-half MILLION dollars is needed to pay businesses with pending projects for September — businesses expecting money for a move into the state or expansion of existing operations.Blouin’s agency has many other programs in place to offer help for growing business, but Blouin says cash on hand does not match what those programs are expected to pay out, either. The state’s value-added ag program has about 370-thousand in it, but businesses that’ve turned in applications have asked for twice that amount for that program alone. Blouin says the state will be hard-pressed to meet its obligations in the next fwe weeks. He says “frankly, we’re either going to start losing projects or losing companies that we’ve made commitments to, and neither is a very good thing to consider.” Yesterday, Governor Vilsack said lawmakers must return in special session by mid-September to fix things. The “Iowa Values Fund” was thrown in limbo by a Supreme Court ruling in June, but Vilsack, a democrat, has been unable to strike a deal with republican legislative leaders to revive the fund.
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