Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats says he wants to make Iowa the “start-up capital of the world.” If elected governor, Vander Plaats says he’d take steps to lure former Iowans back home and help entrepreneurs from other countries legally immigrate here.

“We want to send the message that Iowa is a welcoming place and an hospitable place to do business and industry,” Vander Plaats says.

Vander Plaats acknowledges it may test the “comfort zones” of some Iowans to talk about immigration, but Vander Plaats says by encouraging legal immigration, the state will benefit from new ideas and new energy.  “Attracting the best and the brightest in all kinds of fields so we have a constant opportunity and environment that allows us to grow this state,” Vander Plaats says. 

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, once talked about making Iowa the “Ellis Island of the Midwest.”  Vander Plaats says he wants to Iowa to be viewed as a destination for entrepreneurs and by those who want to settle down and raise a family.

“We’re open for business, not only for the people of Iowa that we want to keep in Iowa, but the people who’ve left Iowa that would like to return to Iowa and not only across the country but, I think, across the globe,” Vander Plaats says. “I want Iowa to be viewed as this is a place where you can start, develop and grow a business and we get the best of legal immigration.” 

Vander Plaats, a former high school economics teacher, says to spur business start-ups, he’d eliminate the corporate income tax and take steps to reduce property taxes on commercial property.