The director of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development is pushing for new tax credits for large Iowa employers that were hit by this spring’s flooding. "At the next Economic Development Board meeting in October we’re going to ask them to change some the rules in kind of an aggressive fashion that would allow companies which had substantial damage, which need to rebuilt, would be granted some tax credits to do that," D.E.D. director Mike Tramontina says.
The state’s current economic development programs restrict tax credits to new or expanding companies. Tramontina says unless the rules are changed, the state may continue to lose companies like Norwood Souvenir. The company announced Friday it is closing its plant in Cedar Rapids that employs 200. "We’ve come to the conclusion, clearly, that economic recovery from the disaster, whether it’s a tornado or a flood…that is a retention issue that the state must be a partner in reinvesting," Tramontina says.
Tramontina made his comments Tuesday after the "Rebuild Iowa Commission" reconvened to discuss longterm recovery issues. Commission member Bill Bywater of Iowa City says Norwood Souvenir’s decision to close in Cedar Rapids is a big blow. "In Cedar Rapids there’s like 600 companies that have been effected by the flood with 9000 jobs," Bywater says. "Economic development’s always working on new jobs. We’ve got to do something for those that are already here, like the one we just lost."
The Rebuild Iowa Commission issued a report in September, addressing short-term needs in storm-ravaged areas of the state. It’s now meeting to discuss long-term ideas and issue report in mid-November.