Nearly eight years after the Vision Iowa program was established, the economic development fund has run dry. On Wednesday, the Vision Iowa Board awarded it’s final grant to an attraction that has an overall price tag of at least $20 million.
Board chairman is Andrew Anderson says the Vision Iowa Fund is now completely spent. However, Anderson says the Vision Iowa Board still has roughly $88 million to work with over the next five years. That money will be awarded to smaller projects around the state in the form of Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grants.
Since July of 2000, the Vision Iowa Fund has supported 14 larger projects around the state to the tune of $227 million. Anderson says it’s possible that lawmakers in the future could issue bonds to resurrect the Vision Iowa Fund. "It was based off of a bond issued by the state, paid for by gaming revenues. That money took a while to spend and we got some great projects out of it…but now it’s all invested," Anderson said.
The board awarded a one-million dollar Vision Iowa Fund grant to a project in downtown Des Moines. An area on the western edge of downtown will be turned into an outdoor "sculpture garden." Roughly 20 large pieces of art will be donated to the garden by the Pappajohn family. "John and Mary Pappajohn are going to give sculptures worth over 30 million dollars…done by Sothebys of New York. It’s world class art that will stay here in Iowa, rather than end up in New York City, Minneapolis or some other place," Anderson said.
The 14 large projects that were awarded Vision Iowa Funding are located in Des Moines, Burlington, Davenport, Clinton, Dubuque, Ottumwa, Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Storm Lake, Sioux City, Mason City and Council Bluffs.