State officials have surveyed the two-hundred-83 businesses that have received “Iowa Values Fund” grants and claim more than 20-thousand jobs have been created or retained in Iowa because of those grants. Tina Hoffman, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, says she and a team of nine other D-E-D employees have been compiling the report over the past few months, and it wasn’t released to respond to recent criticism. “It’s been on-going. It certainly is timely given the criticism, but it wasn’t created because of it,” Hoffman says.
The Values Fund has become a campaign issue in the 2006 governor’s race with the two Republican candidates vowing to get rid of it. On the Democrat side, only Michael Blouin, the former director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development who resigned in July to run for governor, promises to maintain the Values Fund if elected.
The D-E-D report issued Thursday found a majority of the expansion or relocation projects financed, in part, with an Iowa Values Fund grant are “on schedule.”
Hoffman says that “on schedule” judgment is from the business, not the state worker reviewing the grant process. “Our project timeline gives them, depending on the program, a certain number of years to create the jobs and capital investment,” Hoffman says. “When we talk about them being ‘on-schedule’ — that’s according to their timeline.”
The department’s report estimates there’s been three-point-three billion dollars in capital investment as a result of the Values Fund, but with the caveat that the number must be “verified” later. Hoffman says D-E-D staff will get “documentation” of capital expenditures, payroll records and quarterly earnings to compile a more detailed report that’ll be issued in June.
Since July 1st of 2003, three-hundred-22 business projects have received Iowa Values Fund grants.