Commitment to community was at the forefront when Iowa’s top leadership visited Corn Belt Power Cooperative in December.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg made a stop at Corn Belt Power Cooperative on Thursday, Dec. 13. The pair’s visit was part of a larger tour to touch base with rural constituents following their November general election win.
Corn Belt Power employees, board members and distribution managers briefed Reynolds and Gregg on issues including economic development, power supply, the cooperative difference, electric vehicle charging stations, vegetation management and energy efficiency.
Vice President of Business Development Jim Vermeer updated Reynolds and Gregg on Corn Belt Power and its member cooperatives’ development activities, highlighted by the Prestage Foods of Iowa project in Prairie Energy Cooperative’s service territory.
“There are a lot of companies that will follow Prestage. Prestage is very exciting,” he said. “To see the growth there is phenomenal.”
Development Finance Director Brittany Dickey took Reynolds and Gregg through Corn Belt Power’s revolving loan fund and urged the two to continue to support the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG).
“For rural Iowa, it’s one of the key programs that’s utilized,” Dickey said. “We have made loans to 116 projects at the Corn Belt level totaling more than $17 million. Our member cooperatives all have revolving loan funds as well, totaling more than $12 million.”
Dickey explained to Reynolds and Gregg that the program provides assistance to everything from meat lockers to medical clinics. Through the program, the Corn Belt system has been able to create and retain more than 2,000 jobs.
“The Stanhope meat locker, if you’re ever there, stop in,” Dickey said. “This little meat locker went from one and a half employees to 13.”
With help from Jim Gossett, Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative CEO, Reynolds and Gregg learned that the REDLG program isn’t just for businesses on co-op lines.
“They don’t have to be on our system in order to receive help,” Gossett said. “Whether it’s pass-through loans or big loans, they create jobs in these communities.”
Reynolds praised the state’s economic development efforts and said low-cost power is a big part of its success.
“I’m just here to say thank you,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we get out. We’re both from rural Iowa. It’s really important for our state to be successful. It just can’t happen in pockets, it has to happen in every single corner. That’s where as a state, we can really stand tall and proud and say, you know, we’re doing the right things. It’s incredible to hear what’s happening.”
The group updated Reynolds and Gregg on a few other issues. Those include infrastructure issues relating to electric vehicle charging stations, vegetation management and easements, tax credits for geothermal systems and FEMA reimbursements.
Reynolds left Corn Belt with a few parting words, thanking the cooperatives for what they do.
“One of our biggest calling cards is the low cost of energy, our renewables and diverse portfolio,” she said. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to continue to serve in this capacity. We’re going in the right direction. Congratulations and keep up the great work. This is really exciting.”