Governor Reynolds receives 2021 Empower Rural Iowa recommendations

Today, Governor Reynolds received the latest recommendations from the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiative task forces at the Iowa Rural Development Council quarterly meeting. These recommendations came out of the Invest, Grow, and Connect task forces which fielded input from industry leaders, task force members, and the public.  
 
Read the full list of policy recommendations here
 
“Empower Rural Iowa provides rural communities with the right tools to enact meaningful change, and this next legislative session will be an opportunity to build on the success we have seen over the last two years,” said Gov. Reynolds. “I want to thank the task force members for being innovative, flexible, and productive throughout this difficult year. By developing these recommendations, we can improve coordination, align processes, and support local initiatives designed to grow and develop our rural communities.” 


“I’m excited about the recommendations that were crafted by the task forces this year, and I am thankful for the continued engagement of task force members,” said Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, co-chair of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiate. “Our task forces developed these creative yet practical ideas to foster innovation, prosperity, and growth in rural Iowa."

 
“The Iowa Rural Development Council continues to serve proudly as the official partner for the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiative,” said Sandy Ehrig, chair of the Iowa Rural Development Council and co-chair of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative. “With our mission of bringing together partners to advance the interests of rural Iowa, it has been a natural match. Our members have rural resources and program expertise that has served each task force well. Consequently, these well-founded recommendations have been developed very efficiently.” 


Governor Reynolds has signed Empower Rural Iowa legislation the past two years (2019, 2020)  that has passed unanimously through the Iowa Legislature. Many of the latest recommendations are to continue or increase support for existing Empower Rural Iowa programs, like the Rural Innovation Grant Program, Rural Leadership Exchange, and the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant program.  
 
Other task force recommendations include:  
 
Investing in Rural Iowa  
•    Improving coordination among rural entrepreneurship service providers and improving outreach and engagement through regional entrepreneurship, townhalls or resource fairs  
•    Continuing to support ESOP development and improving promotion and understanding of employee-owned cooperative models.  
•    Reform the inheritance tax to limit tax impacts when non-lineal descendants inherit rural small businesses.  
•    Continuing to support the “Shop Iowa” platform.  
•    Continue financial support for the Rural Housing Assessment Grant program and adjust eligibility requirements to allow for regional or county-wide applications.  
Growing Rural Iowa  
•    Identify and recruit former Iowans back to Iowa.  
•    Pilot a “Rural Return Incentive” program through a specially-designated Rural Innovation Grant.   
•    Expand eligibility for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program.  
•    Increase connections between Future Ready Iowa and the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative.  
•    Continue support for rural medical residencies and similar programs as well as increase program awareness through targeted communication and promotion.  
•    Provide funding support for the Rural Leadership Exchange.  
Connecting Rural Iowa  
•    Increase funding support for the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant.  
•    Support for legislation or other efforts that would provide for broadband project protection along Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) right-of-way  

To find out more about the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative, visit https://www.iowaeda.com/empower-rural-iowa/