Howard County is HBI Community

Gov. Terry Branstad spoke with Kenny Mensink after the program. The two had previously conversed two weeks earlier when Branstad called Mensink to thank him for his service on D-Day.

Gov. Terry Branstad spoke with Kenny Mensink after the program. The two had previously conversed two weeks earlier when Branstad called Mensink to thank him for his service on D-Day.

By Marcie Klomp
“You are only the second to be a Home Base Iowa community. Many others will follow your lead,” Gov. Terry Branstad told those who attended a program on June 26 during the Howard County Fair. Greene County was first.

A 1.6-inch rain shower preceded Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynold’s arrival. The pair then toured the historical museum, where they saw displays on Dr. Norman Borlaug, Ellen Church, military personnel and more—all things to be proud of in Howard County.

Cresco American Legion Post 135 posted the colors, and then veterans in the crowd were asked to stand, including Branstad, who served in the Army from 1969-71.

The governor feels strongly about getting veterans to move to Iowa. “There is going to be a significant reduction in force in the military. They are a talented bunch of leaders with technological skills.” Veterans are the kind of people Iowa wants to recruit to fill jobs.

The past legislative session had both parties coming together to make Iowa attractive to retiring military personnel. There will be no state income tax on a military retirement; veterans can go to school on a resident’s tuition; veterans will receive credit for training; and they will receive a $5,000 tax credit when purchasing a home in Iowa. “Howard County has also added some additional incentives to move here,” Branstad acknowledged.

Reynolds agreed. She commented, “Iowa is making great strides in economic development. Companies are now choosing to locate here.” She commended the locals involved in getting Howard County the HBI designation. “It takes dedicated individuals from all the community to be a Home Base Iowa Community.”

Alison Holten, president of Howard County Economic Development, first heard about the HBI program last fall. She told the crowd how right away she got in touch with Jason Passmore, Howard County Business & Tourism, and John Carver, superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek Schools.

“Our first meeting was a Saturday in January. And it was a snow storm. We had no idea how many people would come. To our surprise, over 40 showed up,” Holten shared.

From that meeting the group decided to pursue HBI status and work to expand broadband in the region, both of which will help get veterans and others to relocate to northeast Iowa.

Marshall Rogne introduced himself as the new executive director of the Veterans Affairs office. As a veteran himself, he stated, “It’s a great honor to work with veterans in the local area. It’s good to move back to raise my family.”

Passmore spoke about all Howard County has to offer and brag about, including the 1:1 initiative at How-Winn, Regional Health Services being the first hospital in the state to be baby-friendly, the expansion of RHS, having the first stewardess (Ellen Church), having the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame and Norman Borlaug to name a few.

Holten concluded, “Iowans’ don’t like to brag, but we need to brag about how Howard County is a great place to live. And just like the sun is shining now, after the rain, the sun is shining on Howard County!”

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