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Enhancing Iowa’s economy

July 2, 2015
By State Senator Steve Sodders - D-State Center , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I was asked to lead a trade delegation to Taiwan in July. Taiwan is one of Iowa's biggest markets for ag exports. This relationship has developed over the years through sister-city and sister-state relationships with Taiwan. The strong ties we have are good for the Iowa economy.

I am also working to open doors for Iowa's trade with Cuba. I am organizing a trade mission trip that is likely to take place in late August. The goal is to help Iowa and Iowa companies find another market for ag products and other goods, as well as expanding opportunities for housing, construction, finance and tourism.

Legislation we approved this year is also doing a lot to boost our economy. For example, Iowa's Community Attraction & Tourism (CAT) program has enhanced local recreation, culture, entertainment and learning since 2000.

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State Senator Steve Sodders

CAT grants help communities develop multipurpose attraction and tourism facilities. These investments strengthen our competitiveness as a place to live and work, and position us to take advantage of economic development opportunities.

In the last 15 years, $152 million in CAT grants have contributed to more than 400 Iowa projects with a total cost of more than $1 billion. That means state dollars are leveraging significant private, federal and local investment.

This year, the Legislature appropriated $5 million for CAT (HF 650). At least one-third of CAT funds go to projects in our smaller cities and counties, ensuring both urban and rural communities throughout the state see the benefits.

Community attraction projects may include museums, theme parks, cultural centers, recreational trails, heritage attractions, sports arenas and more. A tourism facility is one that draws people into the community from at least 50 miles away.

Eligible applicants include a city, county, public organization or school district. Projects must demonstrate substantial regional or statewide economic impact, and funds must be used primarily for "vertical infrastructure," including land acquisition and construction, major renovation and repair of buildings, utilities and site development.

Marshall, Tama and Black Hawk counties have reaped the rewards of CAT grants over the years, including:

$100,000 for the La Porte City Family Aquatic Center.

$550,000 for the Melbourne Swimming Pool & Recreation Complex.

$225,000 for the Albion Municipal Library & Heritage Center.

$176,000 for Dysart's "Remembering our Past, Renovating for the Future" project.

$150,000 for the Gladbrook Fitness & Wellness Center.

Learn more about how the CAT program is investing in local projects, enhancing Iowa's quality of life and growing our economy at



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