Democrat Jack Hatch says if he’s elected governor, he’ll “realign” the Iowa Economic Development Authority advisory board, splitting it into four regions, along the lines of Iowa’s four congressional districts. Each region would get an equal amount of money from the state and the local boards would decide which projects quality for state grants and loans.

“As a state, we find our best ideas come when we allow our communities to determine their own destiny and not rely on a top-down model in which government picks winners and losers,” Hatch says.

Hatch would forbid any of the members of these advisory boards to be involved in a business that gets a grant or loan from the state.

“It’s now like an ‘old boys club’….You have to know somebody in Des Moines,” Hatch says. “That just leads to abuse and loss of opportunities.”

Hatch says the regional boards he envisions would likely dedicate more state resources to smaller businesses rather than the big corporations Republican Governor Terry Branstad has been courting. Branstad reconfigured the Iowa Department of Economic Development shortly after returning as governor in 2011, establishing a public-private partnership instead of a strictly state-run agency.

Hatch unveiled his “Community First” proposal for regional advisory boards during a speech in Davenport on Monday.