A bill pending in the Iowa House would set up a state grant program to cover the moving expenses for Puerto Ricans who’ve landed jobs in Iowa — outside of the largest Iowa cites.
Republican Representative Joe Mitchell of Wayland is the bill’s sponsor to “help employers bring folks from Puerto Rico up to fill these workforce voids.”
He says with the hurricanes and earthquakes rocking their communities, many Puerto Ricans are looking to move to the mainland.
“Right now for a family of four, it’s about $5000 to fly them up here, to move their belongings up here, to get them in good, quality, affordable housing,” Mitchell says.
His bill sets up a “Grow Iowa’s Talent Pool Fund” to award grants for businesses that reimburse employees for moving expenses. The grants would be limited to companies located in a city or township that has fewer than 50,000 people.
The Census Bureau estimated that in 2017, about 7500 people who were originally from Puerto Rico had moved to Iowa.
“Obviously the biggest marketer of this program is going to be Puerto Ricans themselves who’ve already come up here and encourage family members to come up,” Mitchell says.
Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898 and people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017. Earthquakes struck in January. Thousands remain without power.