Iowa’s largest city has just been designated as a “Home Base Iowa Community.” Des Moines is now the 66th community in the state to establish the required framework to entice veterans to move to Iowa.

According to Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, his city is highlighting life-outside-of-work activities as well as the help veterans can get in landing a job.

“We’ve got a whole package of benefits through the city, everything from the library system to the park system to the golf courses to possibilities to come down and apply for jobs at the city,” Cownie says. “…We’re always looking for people who are ready to serve our city, but also have a history of serving our country.”

Cownie, who did a stint of service himself in the Iowa National Guard in the 1960s and ’70s, says his capitol city is “a great example” of how to support veterans.

“Iowans have always stepped up. They have done what they have needed to do to serve our country, to serve this state,” Cownie says. “…Iowa government, local business and our families are here and willing and supportive of everything that veterans do.”

Former Governor Terry Branstad initiated the “Home Base Iowa” program a few years ago, in hopes of getting soldiers leaving the military to move to Iowa. Governor Kim Reynolds says Iowa communities have come up with “really creative” incentives.

“That’s really the beauty of this initiative is communities have the opportunity across the state, once they reach that designation, to put their own package together,” Reynolds says.

Program organizers say in addition to the other 65 “Home Base Iowa Communities” there are 21 colleges and universities in Iowa offering assistance to veterans. Nearly 1600 Iowa businesses have committed to hiring more veterans. A city or county may only qualify as a “Home Base Community” after at least 10 percent of local businesses pledge to hire more veterans.