The Legislature remains in the final stages of negotiations after making significant progress on a number of issues this week. Among the bills passed by both the House and Senate was HF 604, the Education Appropriations bill.
In addition to appropriating funding for our community colleges, public universities, and other educational entities, HF 604 also creates the new Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund. This fund is a collection of programs geared toward training and retraining Iowans to develop technical skills, create jobs, and return Iowans to the workforce.
We’re consistently hearing from Iowa employers that they need more highly-trained workers to meet the demands of the workplace. The Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund consolidates various job creation and worker training programs into a single source and dedicates a stream of funding that will help create a stronger economic future for Iowa.
Some of the programs in the fund include:
- High Quality Jobs Program- provides low-interest and forgivable loans to businesses seeking to locate or expand a current operation in the state. The program has strict requirements requiring capital investments by the business and the creation or retention of high-paying jobs.
- Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant- Provides assistance to students enrolled in specific vocational-technical or career option programs at Iowa community colleges. Students must be Iowa residents enrolled in at least three credit hours (or 12 weeks) of a qualified program of study in an identified workforce shortage area.
- Pathways for Academic Career & Employment (PACE)- provides employment training to eligible individuals.
- GAP Tuition Assistance Fund- provides needs-based tuition assistance for continuing education for in-demand occupations.
- Regents Innovation Fund- used for capacity building infrastructure in areas related to technology commercialization, marketing and business development efforts in areas related to technology commercialization, entrepreneurship and business growth, and infrastructure projects and programs needed to assist in the implementation of innovative activities.
- Iowa State University- funds Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)- a resource for small business owner or someone interested in creating a small business to receive technical assistance and guidance.
- University of Northern Iowa- funds economic development programs at University of Northern Iowa including the Metal Casting Institute, the MyEntreNet Internet Application, and the Institute for Decision Making.
- University of Iowa Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth- funds curriculum development to prepare a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders, innovation consulting and laboratories to accelerate new company formation, enhances Iowa’s ecosystem for retaining and attracting talent, and forges partnerships to leverage assets and programs.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our fallen soldiers who have courageously fought to preserve and defend all we enjoy today. On this upcoming Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember our military men and women who selflessly and steadfastly protect our freedom and liberties. We are eternally grateful for their sacrifice.
As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns. If you have any feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-4618.