Senate District 14 —
There is something disheartening about a “closed” sign hanging on a door of a local retail business or rumors circulating throughout our communities about a factory closure. Our townspeople mourn these losses because they know what happens in the end – the never-ending fight to keep our rural communities from becoming ghost towns.
To some state officials, these business and factory closures are usually referenced in statistical reports and news accounts. For our neighbors, families and friends struggling to make ends meet as a result of these closures, they are more than statistics. They face real-life struggles and deserve real-life solutions.
We have heard a lot about economic development on the floor of the Iowa Senate in recent weeks. These conversations, in my opinion, haven’t been productive. In fact, they have not resulted in practical solutions to get our neighbors, families and friends working. Instead, the majority party has used its time to attack Governor Branstad and the Iowa Economic Development Authority for reaching out to out-of-state companies and even global companies to help Iowa grow and fuel our local economies.
These attacks have focused on the creation of more than 150 jobs in Lee County, which ranks among the top five highest unemployment rates in the state. Those negative comments have come from metro area lawmakers who have seen their business communities thrive.
I have witnessed firsthand how the economy has affected our local businesses and its direct impact on local families. Southern Iowa has changed drastically in the past 20 years. Local factories have closed because corporate leaders have made decisions to leave Wayne, Appanoose and Clarke counties due to better incentive packages offered by neighboring states and countries. A few of these businesses you might sound familiar: Rubbermaid, Sara Lee and Siemens. We are not talking a handful of jobs when these businesses and industries leave our communities. These three companies alone total nearly 1,000 jobs.