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January 13, 2016 – Des Moines Register, Paige Godden

Warren County became Iowa’s 25th Home Base Iowa Community last week.

Home Base Iowa manager Jason Kemp announced the achievement to a room full of mayors, county leaders, state representatives and business owners at the Warren County Administration building in Indianola Jan. 7.

Kemp explained the Home Base Iowa program began in 2014 and was designed by Governor Terry Branstad, and director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Debbie Durham as a way to attract veterans, who are also skilled laborers, to Iowa.

The Iowa Legislature approved the Home Base Iowa program, which includes income tax exemptions for veterans, permissive hiring preference for veterans that allows veterans preferential treatment in hiring decisions in both public and private organizations, a military home ownership assistance program, which applies a $5,000 down payment to veterans on closing costs on homes through the Iowa Finance Authority Board and provides education incentives including automatic in-state tuition for veterans, their spouses and their children.

“These initiatives, along with other established initiatives, have really put Iowa on the radar nationally,” Kemp said. “For example, the state of Iowa and Home Base Iowa program have been named and highlighted as a top military state by the Military Officers Association of America.”

He said Iowa will receive a national award from the American Legion for its Home Base Iowa efforts later this year.

“More importantly than growing awards and recognitions is the fact that the Iowa Business Council reports hiring over 1,700 veterans since the program began just a year-and-a-half ago,” Kemp said. “Home Base Iowa allows our state the unique opportunity to make sure Iowa veterans are fully employed, and it’s our opportunity to attract some of the best and brightest talent to our state.”

In Warren County, Kemp said close to 40 businesses have signed on as Home Base Iowa businesses, promising to make hiring veterans a priority.

Incentives for veterans in Warren County will also include a $1,000 cash bonus for first-time home buyers in addition to the $5,000 offered through the state program and Warren County Economic Development has promised $1,000 cash incentives to any veterans who start or expand a business in Warren County.

“It truly takes a serious commitment to become an HBI Community and Warren County has shown tremendous support for this initiative,” Kemp said.

WCEDC director Hollie Askey said the county has been working on getting the designation for almost a year.

Senator Julian Garret (R-Indianola) said he remembers when Vietnam veterans were coming back from war and weren’t necessarily treated with the respect or gratitude they are now.

“That was such a shameful thing back at that time,” Garrett said. “And I’m so glad public opinion and attitudes have changed now.”

State Rep. Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming) and a 26-year Marine Corps. veteran who served in Vietnam, echoed Garrett’s remarks, saying “things have changed a lot and should have changed.

“When I came back from Vietnam, we were told not to wear our uniforms in public,” Gustafson said.

He said veterans have basic skills and general skills, which mean if they need to be somewhere at 0800, they will be there at 0800.

“If you have a job for me to do, I will do that job,” Gustafson said.

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.