East Central Iowa News

East Central Iowa News

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hardin County Economic Development director expects economic growth for county


By Elle Johnson | Mar 6, 2020

Wikimedia Commons/Alex Sergeev

A 2014 vote to provide 10% of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) to improve the community with economic development gave the county the funding needed for economic growth, Hardin County Supervisors Board Chairman Lance Granzow said. 

When Hardin County Economic Development Director Angela De La Riva was hired on July 29, 2019, Granzow said it has been a "mechanism for growth" in the community. Granzow said now all the county needs to do is use the tools to promote economic growth throughout that county. 

De La Riva is making changes to help the county, such as a $100,000 grant to help renovate a building on Main Street. She has also gotten funds for other projects, such as a new American Legion Post 317 in Radcliffe. 

De La Riva is also a part of the University of Northern Iowa planning. 

“This is a crucial step in making sure the entire county has a voice in the direction that economic development will take in the next five years,” De La Riva told timescitizen.com.

The economic growth of the county will help smaller communities get services such as marketing and planning, Supervisor Renee McClellan said. 

“I felt that more time was necessary to be spent serving all our communities and the unincorporated areas of the county,” McClellan said. “By hiring a county-funded position, it puts the entirety of the county on a level playing field when it comes to ‘selling’ Hardin County to prospective businesses and industries looking to locate or relocate here.”

Supervisor BJ Hoffman also said that De La Riva has been doing a good job with developing the county. He said an Economic Advisory Committee is in the process of being formed, which will healp with county growth by keeping confidentiality. It will have representative from all of Hardin County's communities. 

Members of the Board of Supervisors said there is a lot to offer to businesses relocating the the county, which can help them succeed. 

“What may not work for one community, may fit another,” Granzow said. “The Advisory Board can help give direction and be a sounding board for economic growth across the entire county.”

One goal is to build infrastructure such as homes, businesses, buildings, power grids and more. Granzow said much of this is already started. 

Development doesn't necessarily mean a new employer will have hundreds of jobs available, Hoffman said. But it will open positions, which can make a difference. 

“Many people base success solely in job creation, however, with the rural basis of our county, we don’t necessarily have the capacity for mass job creation,” De La Riva said. “We will, instead, build our program beginning by recruiting smaller, quality businesses across the entire county. Those which the infrastructure can support.”

Hoffman also said economic growth has been slow. 

“It will be an uphill battle for us,” Hoffman said. “Angela is doing a good job getting out there and making Hardin County known."

Granzow also said De La Riva is committed to the county. 

“If we do nothing, we get that out of it. We must begin somewhere. The county has taken the first step, and I hope cities will jump on board, using their tools — things like their own LOST funds, to enhance opportunities created by Angela’s position with the county,” Granzow said. “Everyone will win.”

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