Recently, the president of Iowa State University announced that he will lay off 77 county extension directors and consolidate county offices into 20 regions. Jay Howe, with the Adair County Free Press wrote about what this loss would mean to rural Iowa:
“Adair County, for example, will see its resources for office staff and programming reduced significantly. It now will be without a home-based professional to help leverage tax funds to secure grant dollars to address local needs. And it will become dependent upon outsourcing program expertise and searching for ways to pay for much of it if it wishes to maintain current service levels to our people and communities.”
Extension services have proved their worth over the last century. (Above is a picture of the old “Negro Extension Service” in Alabama, the service for black rural residents before the service was integrated in the 1960s.) And in Iowa, these services are being cut. Meanwhile, however, we see that the old tax incentive game of development is still being played — and still isn’t working. The Des Moines Register reported that a “state-run incentive program that uses public money to cover job training costs for new businesses put millions of dollars into projects that failed to deliver on the promise of new jobs, state auditors said Tuesday.” Community colleges borrowed $38.5 million on behalf of businesses that promised to move to Iowa. “Instead, the businesses closed, went bankrupt or otherwise failed to create 15,627 planned jobs,” according to an audit of the program.