The I-JOBS Board met in Cedar Rapids today and awarded money for the first time, approving eight flood recovery projects worth $45.5 million. All of the projects are in Linn County except for $500,000 awarded to help the city of Elkader build a new fire station. More details are in this press release from the governor’s office, which I have posted after the jump.
Attacking the I-JOBS bonding program has become a staple of Iowa Republicans’ speeches and newsletters (see also here and here). I would like Republicans to explain how they would pay for flood recovery projects like the ones approved today. Or would they prefer “small government” that doesn’t repair public libraries or build new county offices and fire stations?
Monday, June 29, 2009
I-JOBS OKs Projects To Create Jobs, Further Recovery Efforts
I-JOBS Board Approves First Projects Today
CEDAR RAPIDS – Making its first approvals today, the I-JOBS Board met and gave the go-ahead to more than $45 million in projects that will help rebuild communities damaged by last year’s severe weather as well as strengthen the state’s economy by creating in jobs and investing in Iowa’s infrastructure. The eight projects were approved at the Board’s meeting in Cedar Rapids, one of the hardest hit communities during the floods of 2008.
Governor Culver said: “Today’s action is one more sign that I-JOBS is moving forward. Just one month after being signed into law, I-JOBS has made its first awards. This is only the beginning, and I look forward to working with all Iowans as we rebuild this state, create good-paying jobs, and build a brighter future for all Iowans.”
In total, the Governor’s I-JOBS program will invest $830 million in Iowa’s aging infrastructure over the next two years. The funds will be used to further Iowa’s disaster recovery efforts, improve Iowa’s roads and bridges, and invest in public works and buildings.
The I-JOBS Board oversees the Local Infrastructure Program which includes $165 million for disaster recovery and prevention and local infrastructure. Of that, $46.5 million is reserved for specific entities that suffered damages during last year’s historic storms and floods. Today’s applicants are part of that pool. The statute identifies these entities and the maximum amount of funds each can receive. The remaining $118.5 million in the Local Infrastructure Program will be available on a competitive basis. Applications from those funds will be available beginning July 1.
Jeff Pomeranz, Chair of the I-JOBS Board, said that the projects awarded funds today will benefit many Iowans: “Not only will these projects provide immediate jobs for Iowans, but they will provide top-rate facilities for our citizens for years to come. Making our state a better place for our residents is what I-JOBS is all about.”
Additional information about the I-JOBS program, including applications, is available at www.ijobsiowa.gov.
The following projects were approved by the I-JOBS Board:
City of Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids Public Library ($5 million)
The Cedar Rapids Public Library was more than 50 percent damaged during last year’s floods. I-JOBS funds will help the library rebuild its main facility and expand the library’s Westdale Mall branch.
City of Cedar Rapids, Paramount Theater ($5 million)
I-JOBS funds will help repair the historic Paramount Theater, returning it to its original condition. Additional renovations include enhancing the sound system, expanding the backstage area and adding a pre-function bar/café.
City of Cedar Rapids, Public Works Building ($5 million)
The city of Cedar Rapids will use I-JOBS funding to rebuild the Public Works Building, including its mechanical and electrical systems.
City of Cedar Rapids, Steam System Customer Relief ($5 million)
The floods of 2008 rendered Cedar Rapids’ steam system inoperable and extensively damaged the steam distribution system. Temporary boilers and rudimentary repairs meant customers were able to take advantage of steam service through the winter but at a drastically increased cost. I-JOBS funds will help steam system customers convert to more affordable individual heating or steam supply systems.
City of Elkader ($500,000)
The city of Elkader will use these funds to build a new fire station. Their existing fire station has flooded several times – including in 2008 – and has fallen into disrepair. A new fire station will be built on donated land outside the flood plain and will include adequate space for equipment and training, a helo-pad, a tornado shelter, a post-disaster shelter and room for possible expansion.
Linn County, Human Services Campus ($10 million)
The floods of 2008 displaced several nonprofit service organizations in Cedar Rapids. I-JOBS funds will be used to build a new Human Services Campus in downtown Cedar Rapids that will provide space for seven to 10 nonprofit organizations that provide services to more than 13,000 people annually.
Linn County, Options Building ($5 million)
Last year’s floods meant Linn County lost 80 percent of its county infrastructure, including the Options and Witwer Buildings that housed several public services. I-JOBS funds will be used to construct a new building to replace the two that were damaged. The new building will house Linn County Community Services, General Assistance, Mental Health and Developmental Disability Services, Veterans Affairs, Home Health and Youth Services.
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library ($10 million)
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids will use I-JOBS funds to build the museum’s operations. The project includes four components: restoration of an historic building in the Czech Village that will serve as administrative offices, restoration of two historic homes, construction of an exhibition center and research library and construction of a permanent exhibit that focuses on the Czech and Slovak American immigrant experience.