Let's talk about a new tool for the toolbox.
Last week, PDI registered its support for HSB 234, otherwise known as the Iowa Reinvestment Act [IRA]. The bill, led by the Iowa Chamber Alliance, provides for a program under which municipalities may establish Iowa Reinvestment districts, apply to the state [via IEDA] for approval of the proposed projects and be rebated a portion of the state sales taxes and state hotel excise tax if applicable. The rebated revenues are then used to directly finance or pay down debt on a portion of the total cost of the approved reinvestment projects inside the district.
Sound familiar? This important proposal puts into statute a practice which has been subject of one-off legislative debate and action on a handful of projects throughout the state in recent years. Newton officials received permission via special legislative action to refund a portion of state sales taxes to help make the Newton Raceway a reality some years ago and just last year, officials in Dyersville successfully pitched essentially the same thing in the so-called "Field of Dreams Bill". The IRA gets the legislature away from taking up requests of this practice on a project-by-project basis and creates an accountable, transparent and procedurally sound process for communities across the state to traverse with clearly-defined expectations and requirements.
It's been a while since we talked about proactive economic development policy in our state. While there is still an enormous amount of defense to be played on issues including incentives funding and tax credits, it is nice to run an offensive set once and a while with your teammates. Speaking of teammates, groups already joining in support of the bill include Master Builders of Iowa, Heavy Highway Contractors Association, Laborers International, MidAmerican Energy and the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council.
I encourage you to read the bill and consider its potential impact on the projects under consideration in your community and region. After you do that, schedule coffee with your legislator. You can take it from there.
President, Professional Developers of Iowa