Exciting opportunities to revitalize rural Iowa

Tod Bowman
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

     Our rural communities have rich histories, natural beauty and hard-working people. Most rural residents love where they live and want to stay put. Many others would like to relocate and enjoy the small-town Iowa lifestyle.

     A new Pew Research Center survey gives us a glimpse of what we can do to make our rural communities even more attractive places to live. According to the survey, Americans say they currently don’t have enough income to lead the lives they want. While many city dwellers believe they will eventually make the kind of money they want, rural residents are less optimistic; 63 percent say they don’t expect to earn enough money in the future.

     One of the major problems, they say, is lack of high-speed Internet where they live. In this day and age, you can work and study from just about anywhere if you’re connected.

     In Iowa, we’ve taken a big step toward fixing that problem by encouraging phone, cable and Internet companies to invest more in expanding their services (SF 2388). It’s one way we’re revitalizing our rural communities, which is part of a plan I support to Put Iowans First.

     All of Iowa will reap the rewards with more reliable Internet at homes, schools, businesses and farms. It’ll spur modern agriculture, connect small businesses to the global marketplace, and encourage entrepreneurs, innovation and learning.

     Other successes this year that will help rural Iowa thrive include:

     • Ensuring health care coverage for telemedicine services (HF 2305).

     • Enhancing EMS transportation (HF 2285) and 911 services (HF 2254).

     • Giving schools (HF 2441) and communities (SF 2258) flexibility to use certain funding for local needs.

     • Providing incentives to schools that share staff, which improve efficiency and save money (HF 633).

     • Taking a first step toward fairer funding for rural schools with high busing costs (SF 455).

     We can create even more opportunities for Iowans in small towns and rural areas by:

     • Taking advantage of industrial hemp as a promising agricultural commodity that boosts farm incomes.

     • Encouraging energy efficiency programs and renewable energy options that create good jobs.

     • Investing more in skilled worker initiatives and college education.

     • Ensuring adequate funding for our students and schools.

     • Extending funding that pays for school buildings and property tax relief.    



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