Population Decline / Joblessness
Iowans know how to get the job done, but top-down decisions from economists and large business interests have made getting a job much, much harder to do in the first place.
Community development is economic development. With the recent reorganization of the USDA, rural Americans have lost a critical voice in Washington. Federal grants and loans for small town businesses, rural water improvement and non-agricultural development are disappearing, and while these grants and loans have never been easy for rural Iowan communities to get, we cannot wait for the ax to fall. We must act now.
For over 25 years, the Iowa Rural Development Council has drawn members from all 99 counties to trade knowledge, innovation and experience with a single mission: to help Iowa’s communities develop with an eye toward the future. But in 2005, all state and federal funding for the IRDC was withdrawn.
State funding for the IRDC must be restored and the Iowa Economic Development Authority must partner with the IRDC to empower communities with fully funded programs designed and tested by the communities themselves. Hospitals must be reopened and modernized; schools must also be modernized; SAVE dollars can help here. Broadband is also a must as an indispensable part of this infrastructure. Main streets must be revitalized. And the hardworking people of Iowa must be put on a fair footing to compete in the global market. State funds, partnerships with community colleges and research, multiplied with local know-how is the surest solution for Iowans’ economic future.
One possible solution is a regional rural jobs and innovation accelerator program like the national one, which was a huge success: https://www.arc.gov/funding/RuralJobsandInnovationAcceleratorChallenge.asp
Land is livelihood and opportunity for rural Iowans. It is also sacred trust. For the modern farmer, crop-destroying hail storms, market downturns, family illnesses and plain bad luck are near certainties. That is why Iowa farmers, pressed to cultivate for maximum marketability rather than sustainability, spend millions of dollars each year applying chemically what more diverse crop rotations would restore freely.
America’s health and welfare depends on the food we grow, and the tools we use to grow that food must ensure the future of that trust for generations to come. That is why Iowa farmers work year after year to implement the newest technologies and methods to protect their harvest. Our machinery and seed is, bar none, the best in the world. But we can, and must, do more.
The air we breathe and the water we drink must be as safe and free from toxins as the food we serve our families. Our rivers and streams must be restored to the same quality that our forebears enjoyed.
That is why the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy must continue to be funded by public-private partnerships, and its methods followed. More education is required, with community input and based on science.
And the Master Matrix is broken. Until it is fixed, with real standards and increased local control, no new CAFOs should be approved.
Putting our Faith in Each Other
Immigrants from around the world work hard to come to America. They take responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities – those they join and those that they form. Their traditions join the traditions of Native Americans, European Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans to strengthen and enrich the fabric of a nation, our nation, which is unique in the history of the world. Immigrants have never taken from nor diminished our culture – they have always inevitably added to it and strengthened it in every way.
That is why Iowa’s cultural traditions of hard work, responsibility and community-mindedness uniquely equip us to overcome the prejudices of our forebears and build lasting, vibrant communities that will carry on those traditions.
Just as each immigrant puts their faith in a nation of promise, we must put our faith in the promise of each other – by encouraging immigrant businesses and making everyone more prosperous; by expanding immigrant education and fostering ingenuity; and by opening the doors of our churches, synagogues, community centers and colleges with all of the neighborly affection that makes our communities so special.
1. Expand Telehealth systems to underserved areas (underscores need for rural broadband)
2. Have doctors, dentists, and mental health professionals available, if need e, on a “circuit” basis in rural areas.
3. Provide viable ambulance and EMT services to all rural areas, so 911 means something.
Washington and Iowa
Iowans need to start expecting more from their state legislators and less from Washington. It’s no surprise that Washington’s concerns are far from Iowans. Iowa’s local legislators must be partners in the community, and so, each state-level elected official must perform 1 week of public service in a community that is not their own and so foster the understanding that some of us may be rural Iowans, and some of us may be urban Iowans, but we are all Iowans.
Population Decline / Joblessness