Governor Tom Vilsack’s been in eastern Iowa today (Wednesday), meeting with workers in companies that have received grants from the state’s “Vision Iowa” program.
“I think it’s important for us to not just talk about programs and dollar figures but also to talk about people and the impact that government efforts have on retaining good jobs, creating good jobs,” Vilsack says. “We’re traveling around the state today talking to people who have benefited from the efforts of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.”
The high-dollar state “Values Fund” grants could be a legacy of Vilsack’s tenure as governor, or fall on the scrap heap of time as all but one of the candidates who’s running to succeed Vilsack as governor promise to maintain the program.
Vilsack says the Values Fund has helped create good-paying jobs and given the workers he’s talked to today “job security.” Vilsack says the state has two choices. “It can either compete or it can retreat,” Vilsack says. “As I listen to these workers, they are very interested in the State of Iowa continuing to compete.” Some of the high-tech companies that have received state grants are opening service centers or software development branches in Iowa at a time when other companies are “out-sourcing” those functions to branches in places like India.
Vilsack says that’s just another reason the Values Fund should remain in the state’s economic development arsenal.
“This is a chance for us to gain jobs that otherwise might have been lost to another state or perhaps to another country,” Vilsack says.
The governor says he’s not “frustrated at all” to be defending the Values Fund and after these “roundtable” discussions with workers he’s now loaded with the personal stories of individual workers who’ve benefited from it.
“To me, it’s reaffirming that it’s more important to compete than to retreat,” Vilsack says. This morning, Vilsack was at Genencor International in Cedar Rapids. Early this afternoon, he was in Davenport at a training center where workers are learning new, high-tech skills. At three o’clock, Vilsack walked into Mi-T-M Corporation in Peosta to talk with workers. On Friday, the governor will visit with workers at Ag Processors in Sioux City.