Siouxland business leaders discuss issues with Iowa lawmakers in Washington

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 11:11 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Iowa business leaders are in Washington D.C. to urge lawmakers to address issues facing Siouxland communities.

The Siouxland Chamber of Commerce met with congressional lawmakers Wednesday to discuss the economy, health care, immigration, and funding for the military. Those discussions included talks about funding the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City.

One of the biggest issues the chamber members brought to lawmakers is the ongoing issue of finding skilled workers to fill Iowa jobs.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) met with the chamber early Wednesday morning. The chamber also met with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) inside the U.S. Capitol.

Ernst offered this solution to help businesses struggling to find workers: “It’s just encouraging the workforce and making sure that we have skilled laborers as well, which is where we count on a number of tech programs, higher education programs. But even going back into the elementary, middle schools, and high schools and making sure that they are being educated. That will put them on a good career path. So, I think there’s a number of things that we can assist with at the federal government level. But, it’s done in conjunction with those at the state and local levels as well.”

Grassley suggested looking into the use of grant programs to help support workers who need to be trained.

“One of the things we can do, and there’s more than one thing we can do, but one thing that I’m very interested in doing is Pell Grants can only be given to kids that are going to finish degrees. You know, that’s either an associate degree or B.A. degree. So, there’s a lot of jobs that need training where you only get a certificate maybe six months, maybe it’s a year, maybe it’s a year-and-a-half or short of two years. We ought to make the Pell Grants available to train people for jobs, and that’s one of the things that’s going to help the workforce,” Grassley said.

Grassley said the chamber members left lawmakers with “a long list of stuff that they’re interested in.” He noted the Siouxland Chamber had been “begging” lawmakers for four years to pass an infrastructure bill. Therefore, he said he was happy to vote for the infrastructure law.

“And a lot of that’s going to help a lot of these projects that they told us about this morning,” Grassley said. “It’s just kind of nice to be able to say we delivered.”

The lobbying continued into the night as Chamber of Commerce members ate dinner with lawmakers at a meet-and-greet event to further discuss the issues.

Brian Crichton, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, told the Gray Television Washington News Bureau he believes the mission of the group’s visit was accomplished.

“It gives us face time with the representatives and senators. It gives us an opportunity to present ideas, thoughts, concerns to them. We wouldn’t have this opportunity, this concentrated time with them. It’s really a great opportunity,” said Crichton.

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