A plan to outsource business and jobs — within the state — may help Iowa’s rural areas. The Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs is spearheading an effort to link businesses in small towns with those in cities.

Stephanie Fritz, the center’s rural community development specialist, is coordinating meetings to help small businesses make connections. Fritz says, “We’re trying to help them network with some urban businesses just to see if the urban company could outsource some jobs to smaller communities instead of having a part made out-of-state or even out of the country.”

She says the move could help save the urban business money while helping the small town enhance its business climate or even launch new businesses. Fritz explains how the plan could work. For example, an eyeglass company could outsource to rural communities — having one business make the screws, another could do the frames and yet another would do the lenses while they were assembled somewhere else and sent on to the city-based large eyeglass company, but all of the piece work was done in the rural areas.

Fritz says now is a good time to set up the network so those involved will be ready when the economy rebounds. The project is funded by a 50-thousand dollar grant from the Economic Development Agency.