State officials are inviting Iowans to dream up ways their town can be designated as one of Iowa’s “Great Places.” The governor says three communities will be picked later this year, and will get help in finding out what state grants or programs the town is eligible for. Governor Tom Vilsack says the idea is to encourage people at the local level to think creatively.Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, says applications are due July 1st from communities that wish to be designated as a “Great Place” and get special state assistance. “It enables Iowans to recognize and capitalize on what is good and great about our state already and it takes the programs and services that we have in government…in a one-stop shop,’ Walker says. The state will assign a “coach” for a designated community who will find out which programs in 18 separate state agencies could help the town reach its goals of greatness. “We have many wonderful programs and services that operate quite well individually, but in concert they can deliver impact and results in a much more timely manner than we’re doing already.” A beautiful natural lake, a downtown with a history or even a neighborhood within a city could qualify as one of these “Great Places” according to Walker. Vilsack has asked legislators for about eight million dollars that would be used to launch this “Great Places” initiative.
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