Growing Howard County

Ridgeway Mayor Paul Stevens and Jesse Stevens and Brad Reed of LimeSprings Beef talk before the task force meeting.

Ridgeway Mayor Paul Stevens and Jesse Stevens and Brad Reed of LimeSprings Beef talk before the task force meeting.

By Marcie Klomp

You’ve heard the old adage, “The early bird gets the worm?” Well leaders in Howard County want to be the bird. They don’t want the worm, though, they want broadband Internet and workers!

A task force meeting was held on Jan. 18, and despite cold weather and blowing snow, about 40 city and county leaders of business, industry, education and politics came together. The next meeting will be Feb. 1 at 9 a.m. at NICC-Cresco Campus. All interested persons are invited.

For years area residents have shown their high integrity by keeping a secret, but now is the time to let the cat out of the bag. Howard County is a great place to live, work and play!

President of HCED (Howard County Economic Development) Alison Holten said, “We need employees, and we need to recruit people to Howard County. We’ve all been recruiting—HCED, the schools and the outlying communities. All of these have had good ideas. We are here today to come together to do great things.”

Some of those great things involve wooing families to live and work in the area and getting broadband Internet, which should lure high-tech businesses to northeast Iowa as well.

Those on the newly-formed task force were on board with moving forward. One of the first ways to meet the simple, yet complicated, goal of getting families to move to Howard County is to be part of Home Base Iowa.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers are getting out or have already completed their duty. Now where do they go? Gov. Terry Branstad wants to welcome those hard-working and dependable individuals to Iowa . . . and bring their young families with them through Home Base Iowa.

Veterans can log onto http://www.homebaseiowa.org/ and find any kind of job offered in the state. Leaders in Howard County want to go a step further and welcome their spouse, by helping them find a job, and their children, by giving them a wonderful school system to attend.

The other goal of the group is to become a prototype county with broadband connectivity. Basically broadband helps provide a really good Internet service. Currently Howard County is one of the five counties with the worst Internet in the state.

With a better Internet service, Howard County would be a great place to telecommute from. More and more individuals work for Mayo or other companies and work from home. The group would like area residents to have that same opportunity–especially since Rochester is trying to become a Destination Medical Center.

Howard-Winneshiek Supt. John Carver commented, “Howard County can be the hot spot of the world. We want to target folks to come here.”

Many ideas came out of the first task force meeting, and many more are just waiting to be developed. Anyone interested in attending the next meeting can be assured of a good snack and to be part of an opportunity to put Howard County on the world map!

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