Strengthening rural Iowa

Gov. Reynolds’ Empower Rural Iowa Initiative deserves support

Iowa is a great place to live. Its economy is strong and the quality of life it affords has few equals anywhere in the nation.

Even so, some of our state’s rural communities aren’t fully sharing the generally upbeat prognosis for the Hawkeye State’s future. Gov. Kim Reynolds is determined that as Iowa continues to thrive in the years ahead no part of the state will be forgotten. That’s why she launched the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative in July 2018. Last year task forces that included a wide array of community stakeholders were appointed by the governor. They developed preliminary recommendations for the governor and the Legislature.

In her Condition of the State Address in January, Reynolds asked the Legislature to provide support for this innovative undertaking. The lawmakers passed the Empower Rural Iowa Act, which the governor signed on May 20.

“We are one step closer to achieving growth and prosperity in every single corner of our state,” said Reynolds at the signing ceremony. “We’re connecting, investing and growing our rural communities through this collaborative initiative. This new law will not only continue the positive momentum taking place across rural Iowa, but strengthen our way of life to keep our young people here and attract others to our state.”

On June 27, Reynolds announced the appointment of Liesel Seabert as the Rural Community Revitalization Program manager. Seabert has been given the challenge of helping turn Reynolds’ vision for the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative into a success story.

As a result of recommendations developed by the task forces that began working in 2018, the initial priorities for Empower Rural Iowa will be:

• Workforce development,

• Addressing workforce housing needs,

• Broadband connectivity and

• Evolving the next generation of community leaders.

“I am honored to work on Iowans’ behalf in developing creative strategies to strengthen our rural communities,” Seabert said on accepting her new post.

The Messenger welcomes her to this role. We also commend the governor for developing and championing this superb investment in the future of the Hawkeye State’s rural communities. The Empower Rural Iowa Initiative demonstrates that as our state builds for the future the governor and her team are determined that all Iowans will benefit from tomorrow’s opportunities — no matter where they happen to live.

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