Washington needs to hear about economic development in Iowa! As we work across the state, we are continually impressed with the many communities and organizations that understand and make the most of the federal resources available to them. Federal resources in the form of funding opportunities or technical assistance programs help Iowans create and maintain the kinds of places they want and need for good jobs and livability.

As the next federal budget is proposed and discussion gets underway in our nation’s capital, in addition to a proposed budget amendment to the current budget, now is the time to share your stories with our members of Congress. How has your community or organization utilized federal funds or programs?

  • Do you have a new child care or community center helped with USDA or CDBG loans or grants?
  • Have you made recent upgrades to your sewer/water plant partially funded by CDBG grants?
  • Have your businesses been able to grow with the help of revolving loan funds – partially capitalized by the USDA or the EDA?
  • Do your businesses take advantage of the technical assistance available to them through the SBDC or other programs funded by the EDA?
  • Is your airport still in business with the support of Essential Air Service money?
  • Do you use federally collected and maintained data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Bureau of Economic Analysis (to name just a few) to help make local decisions, track progress or apply for grants?

These programs and many others are currently part of the federal budget discussion. While not always visible to constituents, Iowa communities and organizations use them to create and maintain jobs and businesses and ensure that our communities have the social and physical infrastructure that improves and supports the quality of life of their residents.

We offer this list of important federal programs that we know work for positive economic development and job creation in Iowa’s communities which may be in danger of elimination or extreme cuts:

  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – these funds are used by Iowa communities to help fund housing programs, community facilities, community revitalization, water/sewer projects and funds the Economic Development Set-Aside (EDSA) program for business loans
  • Economic Development Administration (EDA) – this program in the Department of Commerce supports programming and revolving loan funds for businesses and entrepreneurs across the state. Funds from the EDA support University Centers at UNI and ISU – UNI’s Regional Entrepreneurship Program and ISU’s CIRAS program, and Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) development and implementation at the state’s Councils of Governments (COGs)
  • USDA – provides revolving loan funds for rural businesses and community organizations, rural water/wastewater loan and grant programs, and farm stats and farm service agencies in each county
  • DOT programs including the FTA’s Capital Investment Program that funds new transit projects and the Essential Air Service (EAS) which subsidizes our rural airports
  • Federal data resources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, the Energy Information Administration, the Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation and Statistics, and the National Center for Health Statistics
  • FEMA – many communities use disaster mitigation grant funds from FEMA to support community infrastructure projects
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Job Training Programs – used to train or retrain Iowa workers

These programs are important to economic development in Iowa but there are many other programs that support education, housing, transportation and some that provide direct assistance to our most vulnerable that are also being considered for elimination or extreme cuts. Please share your experiences and stories with our elected federal officials to encourage their support of these programs throughout the budgeting process. Additional information and resources to help you to weigh in with your members of Congress can be found at the following links:

International Economic Development Council (IEDC): Has a nice downloadable brochure titled “Why Invest in Economic Development” and a public policy blog to keep up with the latest developments
National Association of Development Organizations (NADO): Has a variety of fact sheets specific to the federal programs used by development organizations