Folks in southeast and central Iowa will be hearing a wide array of unusual accents this week. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is leading a delegation of more than five-dozen dignitaries from around the globe on his 11th annual "Ambassador Tour" of the Hawkeye State.
Grassley says, "This year, I’ve got ambassadors and representatives from 63 countries in Iowa for five days. Iowans are showcasing our state’s people, products and services, and places in the world community." Grassley started offering the Iowa tour in 1986 during the farm crisis. Since then, he invites every nation with a Washington D.C. embassy to send its ambassador and spouse on the trip. He says Iowans literally open their doors to the visitors from abroad.
Grassley says: "One of the ways Iowans show their hospitality is that right now, these 63 countries are overnighting in the homes of individual people in Pella." The tour is funded by private, individual and corporate sponsors. Grassley says he works with the Iowa Department of Economic Development to maximize the benefits of the trade tour. He says it’s vital to foster good relations with new and existing trading partners and it’s an integral part of Grassley’s work on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade issues.
Grassley says, "I organize this event that happens every other year to foster relationships so that we can lead to export opportunities and other productive connections between our state and communities and people around the globe." He says the V-I-Ps have already remarked they’re a bit surprised to see that Iowa’s far more than just corn and soybean fields.
Grassley will lead the diplomats through several communities, including: Johnston, Pella, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Mount Pleasant, Keokuk, Fort Madison, Burlington, Muscatine, Kalona, Mitchellville and Indianola, concluding with Friday’s visit to Des Moines and the Iowa State Fair.