Paying attention to communities of all sizes: The right development solutions for Coralville or for Iowa City may not fit Tipton, West Branch, Durant or Wilton. Big tax breaks for large corporations should not be part of Iowa’s arsenal.
Public-private partnerships with educational institutions: Community colleges train people for trades and skilled jobs; they support businesses with expansion plans. We cannot underfund them or eliminate their programs that serve distinct regions. Together with our universities, they are the links between K-12, the job market, and robust communities. They also reach many who might not otherwise obtain a certificate or complete post-secondary education, a boon to communities and businesses across the state.
Incentives: Incentives, including TIF (tax increment financing), can be used to help reclaim blighted property. Used even in modest ways – to acquire a right of way and hook up a water and sewer line, for example, to a building that has stood empty for years – it can encourage local development. Cities and towns can also consider judicious tax breaks in exchange for jobs, tailored to their circumstances and needs.
Online clearing house: An online clearing house, where a prospective business person answers a series of questions, and in response, all possible funding and grant options pop up, would be an excellent start-up opportunity that could promote locally-based economic development.
Improved marketing: We must market ourselves better. One argument for lowering the state corporate tax rate is that Iowa’s current rate turns off potential investors. Two possible solutions: (1) Lower the corporate rate to the current effective rate, while cleaning the books of credits/loopholes that allow them to reach the current effective rate; or (2) Make clear what the effective rate is through improved outreach and advertising, utilizing Chambers of Commerce, among others.