In February, it was announced that Newton, along with Avoca and Guthrie Center, would join the 48 other communities with active Main Street programs. Since Main Street Iowa began in 1986, more than 3,800 businesses have been established, relocated to, or expanded in Main Street districts.
Even during the recession, when there was a net decrease in the number of businesses in the U.S., Iowa’s Main Street communities continued to show an increase in businesses. Now it’s time to begin filling empty storefronts, which will require careful collaboration among businesses, local government and every person in our community, but Newton was selected because we’re motivated to grow our downtown.
For more information on the positive economic impact of the Main Street Iowa Program go to: http://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/userdocs/documents/ieda/MainStreetReportMay2013.pdf.
There is only one thing the Legislature is required to do every year — approve the state budget. It’s a big task and there are many steps to the process but it’s the most important thing we do every year and it’s a reflection of our priorities.
My goal this year is to make sure the budget grows the middle class. It starts with early childhood education so every child enters kindergarten ready to learn. It means improving student achievement and keeping higher education affordable for every family.
We should also expand job training opportunities for workers with tuition grants at community colleges to fill jobs in shortage areas.
A strong middle class means a growing economy with good jobs. Our budget this year should encourage the use and production of renewable energy like wind, solar, and biofuels.
We should also expand the use of broadband and free wi-fi, especially in underserved rural areas.
Our job as legislators is to keep state government running efficiently while maintaining Iowa’s balanced budget and strong surplus. I’m going to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to build a strong middle class.