Sunday, December 09, 2007
Banks, rural electrics, economic-development groups try to keep young people in rural Iowa
In Iowa, "Banks, rural electric cooperatives, economic development groups and governments are striving to stem the outflow of young talent and economic vitality," reports S.P. Dinnen of the Des Moines Register. "Just 29 of the state's 99 counties gained population between 1970 and 2000, and that trend continues. So, these groups are coming up with tax breaks, housing options and other incentives to try to stem the brain drain."Some examples:Hampton State Bank offers a 3.99 percent home loan to anyone who graduated from a Franklin County high school and moves back home. Brian Lubkmen and his wife, Kirsten, above, are using the program to finance a geodesic-dome home. In Greene County, "Economic development and housing groups are joining with employers to make a $1,000 relocation package available to people who move there. Community programs also are building spec homes that can be ready for occupancy as soon as someone is recruited to work."Greene County's economic-development director is Jefferson Herald Publisher Rick Morain, former president of Iowa State University’s Community Vitality Center. The center, which gets $250,000 a year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is an outgrowth of concern by rural newspaper publishers. Through the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, they realized the need for "a broad-based statewide organization to help rural communities," Morain said at "Health, Wealth and Wireless: Issues and Stories for Rural Iowa," a workshop held in Des Moines in May by the foundation, the Center for Rural Strategies, the Main Street Project and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.