Ken Paxton (podium) and Governor Terry Branstad.

Ken Paxton (podium) and Governor Terry Branstad.

The state is planning to offer a special designation to businesses and communities that take new steps to lure veterans to settle in Iowa — and officials in the Jefferson area hope to be the first to earn the new “Home Base Community” status.

The governor announced the “Home Base Iowa” initiative last month. Greene County Development Corporation executive director Ken Paxton said today that a task force in the Jefferson area has been working on the project ever since.”Jefferson and Greene County — we’re extremely fortunate. We’re kind of in a growth spurt right now. We have anywhere from 800-1000 jobs coming in the next couple of years and this initiative fit with us very strongly because we need new employees,” Paxton said. “We need to be able to fill these jobs as quickly as possible.”Banks in the Jefferson area have pledged to waive closing costs on home loans from the VA. Paxton said a comprehensive, centralized list of available jobs in the county as well as homes that are available for sale, rent or lease is being developed, too.”We have jobs for men, for women, for part-time, for full-time, for disabled, so we think we’ve got a nice variety,” Paxton said. “One of our kind of selling points is come to our county for two jobs, not one. Both the husband and wife can come and we can handle both of you.”

In addition to jobs at manufacturing plants and medical facilities in Greene County, Paxton points to the prospect of more than 250 jobs at the proposed Wild Rose casino in Jefferson.  Voters in Greene County passed a gambling referendum last month and will submit a proposal in January to state regulators who will decide whether Jefferson gets a casino.

“We’re pretty hopeful,” said Paxton, who was invited to speak at the governor’s weekly news conference in Des Moines.  “We passed it with the highest percentage of any positive vote in Iowa history. We passed it with the highest percentage of voter turnout in Iowa history and we have no competition, so we’re feeling pretty good.”

The state’s Workforce Development agency will award “Home Base Business” designations to companies that pledge to hire a specific number of veterans and sign up for the state’s “Skill Iowa” program to promote high-skilled jobs. Cities and counties can earn “Home Base Community” status by showing 10 percent of businesses in the area have gotten the “Home Base Business” designation, plus city and county governments in the area must pass resolutions of support for the project. Governor Branstad said a private fundraising effort is underway to raise money for a marketing campaign to sell Iowa to veterans.

“We want veterans to know that Iowa can provide them not just a job, but a career in a caring, welcoming community,” Branstad said.

Call 1-855-942-4692 or email [email protected] for more information about the program.

AUDIO of Branstad’s weekly news conference