Quality of life investments boost economy, middle class
Iowa's great quality of life is bolstered by a variety of arts, culture and recreation. These opportunities make daily life more enjoyable, and they are good for our economy.
"They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases," according to a report from the National Governor's Association. "In addition, because they enhance quality of life, the arts and culture are an important complement to community development, enriching local amenities and attracting young professionals to an area."
The investments the Legislature made this year will continue to ensure the attractiveness and vitality of Iowa communities by providing great things to do, see and learn. We are preserving and enhancing Iowa's cultural resources and recreation experiences through:
* Community Attraction & Tourism (CAT) Grants <http://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/CommunityDevelopment/VisionIowa>, which go to recreational, cultural, entertainment and educational attractions. Twelve grants have been awarded in Senate District 27, including grants used to build aquatic centers in Hampton and Rockwell, as well as to expand and update the Clarksville Public Library.
* Community Cultural Grants <http://www.iowaartscouncil.org/funding/assets/JobCreationGrantGuidelinesFY15.pdf>support job creation for Iowans who contribute to the cultural vitality of our state.
* Iowa Great Places <http://www.iowagreatplaces.gov/>, which brings together resources to help communities, regions and neighborhoods enhance what makes them unique. The Park Hotel/National City Bank reunification currently is a Great Places Project.
* Investing in the arts, cultural endeavors and historic preservation through a variety of initiatives at Iowa's Department of Cultural Affairs <http://www.culturalaffairs.org>.
* Improving the Iowa State Fair and our county fairs <http://www.iowafairs.com/>, which offer local fun and a celebration of our state's agricultural heritage.
* Providing a record $25 million for REAP, Iowa's popular Resource Enhancement and Protection Program for our natural and cultural resources.
* Taking care of Iowa's parks and natural areas to ensure they remain places of pride and outdoor activity for Iowans.
* Creating a statewide trail system of rivers and lakes <http://www.iowadnr.gov/Recreation/CanoeingKayaking/WaterTrailDevelopmentTools/WaterTrailsToolkit.aspx>that is fun, safe and interesting for outdoor enthusiasts.
* Recreational trails <http://www.iowadot.gov/systems_planning/fedstate_rectrails.htm>funding to establish hiking, biking, skiing, snowmobiling and horseback riding routes throughout the state.
* Expanding and investing in a variety of sports and recreational opportunities, including racing, off-roading and Special Olympics.
This is a legislative column by Senator Amanda Ragan, representing Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/ragan.
To contact Senator Ragan during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise she can be reached at home at 641-424-0874. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Senator Ragan is an Assistant Senate Majority Leader, chair of the Human Resources Committee and vice-chair of the Health & Human Services Budget Subcommittee. She also serves on the Appropriations, Natural Resources & Environment, Rules & Administration and Veterans Affairs committees.