Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, says Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s approach to economic development has been to “pick winners and losers” — like providing millions of dollars in incentives to an Egypian company building a fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa.
“The CEO of this foreign corporation just bought the second-most-expensive penthouse in New York City for $70 million,” Hatch says, “and he paid cash.”
Hatch says the $125 million dollars Branstad awarded the Orascom (OR-ah-skahm) company for its Iowa Fertilizer Plant that will employ 165 full-time workers would have been better spent as state incentives for expanding broadband access throughout Iowa.
“Instead of giving it to big corporations,” Hatch says, “…we are going to be investing in communities.”
Hatch and his running mate, Monica Vernon, spoke to a crowd of over 40 people in a Des Moines coffee shop early this morning, outlining their “Iowa Plan 2020.” Hatch said it will “reverse” the economic development strategy of the Branstad-Reynolds Administration and focus on boosting the local economies in Iowa’s communities and neighborhoods “where we are investing in communities who know where the jobs are, know what kind of jobs they want and who will compile the stakeholders so that we share the investment with as many people as possible,” Hatch said.
According to Hatch, broadband access is critical in Iowa. Hatch said the “Connect Every Iowan” proposal Branstad outlined this past January “did nothing” on the scale that’s necessary.
“Just imagine, for example, if any downtown whether it be Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, Creston, Carroll would have the ability to have wireless for four or five blocks or in the whole town…businesses and individuals would be able to connect with the world as a public investment,” Hatch said. “We do that with highways.”
Rather than “picking winners and losers,” Hatch said as governor he would employ a “bottom up” approach to job creation and economic development
“There’s no reason why everybody, every town, every initiative can’t be a winner if you put your mind into it,” Hatch said.
The website the Branstad campaign created to attack Hatch and Monica Vernon, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, says the pair will “take Iowa back” to the “failed” economic policies of former Democratic Governor Chet Culver. Tommy Schultz, communications director for the Branstad-Reynolds campaign, said Bransad is focused on a “positive agenda” for Iowa’s future.
“Strangely, Jack Hatch continues to attack a revitalized economy and good jobs that have been created in Lee County, which has seen a 42% unemployment drop since 2011,” Schultz said this afternoon.
(This post was updated at 3:09 p.m. with additional information.)