As your representative in Congress, I’ll always fight for Iowans to have good jobs with fair wages to support their families. We need to ensure that we’ve created the conditions for businesses to succeed here in Eastern Iowa, and that we’re constantly searching for opportunities to bring investment into our region. Too many of our communities have been left behind as our national economy changes. We need forward-thinking leadership that will position our region to preserve the jobs we have now and attract the jobs of the future.
Improving Our Infrastructure to Support Jobs
We must invest in our deteriorating and underfunded infrastructure in Eastern Iowa to support entrepreneurs and create jobs. The majority of our roadways were built 50 to 60 years ago with few updates since then, and have received only a C- rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers1. Our bridges received a D+ grade, with one in five Iowa bridges considered structurally deficient2. Failing infrastructure makes it harder for goods and services to reach consumers, which hurts Iowa farmers and small business owners.
A number of the levees protecting us from dangerous floods fail to meet FEMA guidelines and, due to a lack of funding and available staff, only about 10% of Iowa dams are regularly inspected. We must continue to construct and repair our flood prevention infrastructure, including funding and building the full Cedar River Flood Control system to protect residents and businesses.
We are also behind when it comes to the infrastructure Iowans will need to compete in the 21st century. Currently, Iowa ranks 39th on connectivity3 with 22% of Iowans still underserved when it comes to access to broadband4. There is no excuse for the fact that over 160,000 Iowans still don’t have access to any wired Internet providers5. This makes everything from logistics to communications more difficult, harming the competitiveness of our businesses and making our region less attractive to entrepreneurs.
By investing in infrastructure we can create jobs, support our businesses, and ensure that all Iowans can travel safely across the state.
Investing in Main Street
We can’t build a strong economy without thriving small and community businesses. We must ensure that entrepreneurs and small business owners have access to the capital they need to hire and grow. An Eastern Iowan might have a great idea for a business, but if they can’t secure loans or investment to get their concept off the ground, that great idea will go nowhere and the surrounding community will lose out on potential jobs. I am committed to strengthening funding opportunities for small businesses so that entrepreneurs are supported and have the opportunity to take smart, calculated risks to achieve their goals.
We must ensure that small businesses are not overly burdened by unnecessary regulations and red tape. While large corporations can employ an army of accountants and regulatory professionals to deal with these demands, entrepreneurs have no such resources. We need to level the playing field to give Main Street a fair shot.
Strengthening Family Farms
Growing up in rural Iowa, I understand personally that our agricultural community is critically important to Eastern Iowa, with farmers comprising the backbone of our families and towns. I will always work to strengthen family farms because doing so is not only important to our economy, but to the traditions and way of life for countless working families in our state.
This starts with ensuring the farm bill considered in Congress every four years is based on sound policy designed to help farmers, rather than being subject to partisan political games as has too often happened in recent versions. It means fighting to give farmers access to the capital they need to grow and thrive, as modern farm equipment does not come cheaply. And it means making sure federal farm subsidies go to support family farms rather than huge corporate entities, and that federal programs like crop insurance programs that protect farmers are defended.
By fostering strong family farms, we maintain strong families and strong communities, and these goals must always be a priority in Washington.
Preparing Our Workforce
We must make sure businesses can find the qualified workers they need at home. Creating jobs in our region won’t help working families if we don’t prepare Iowans with the skills to fill them. This includes making college more affordable but it also means strengthening career and technical education in our public high schools so that every student—regardless of whether college is the best path for them—will be prepared to thrive in the 21st century economy. We must also support and foster partnerships between local businesses and schools so that students have access to internships, job training opportunities, and apprenticeship programs.