Governor Tom Vilsack has signed legislation that re-creates the “Iowa Values Fund” — the state economic development grant program that was derailed last year by a Supreme Court ruling. This new version sets aside 50 million dollars in each of the next 10 years for grants to businesses, worker training and university research. Another 21 million is set aside for tax credits to businesses that create new jobs. “This legislation, first of all, is the largest economic development committment the state has ever made,” Vilsack says. He says the huge grants will spur business expansion and growth and the tax credits will help smaller businesses which, when they add a job or two, make a huge impact on a small town. “While the rest of the nation is seeing a substantial reduction in manufacturing jobs, our state is holding its own and it’s in no small part because of the efforts of our Department of Economic Development and Workforce Development and the confidence that has been placed by the Iowa Legislature in the Values Fund.” Vilsack says the Values Fund will help continue the momentum and transform the state’s economy. Representative Clarence Hoffman, a Republican from Charter Oak, was a key architect of the Values Fund the first time around and again this past spring after the Supreme Court ruling closed the fund down. “I think this is just another step going where we have been going,” Hoffman says. “The first two years of this program may be have been the most successful years we’ve had in any endeavor that I can remember and I think this is just reaffirmation that we’re going to keep a program that is working, working in the future.” Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, also helped write the legislation. “Actually, I think we have a better bill with this Values Fund than we did the first time around,” Dotzler says. Dotzler says it sends a signal to the rest of the country that Iowa will be competitive in economic development. Vilsack signed the bill in a Monsanto facility in Ankeny — the same place where he signed the original Values Fund legislation. The bill he signed Thursday sets out the framework but does not supply the money. The cash is set aside in a separate bill Vilsack’s expected to sign later.
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