The Center Square) – Gov. Kim Reynolds has allocated $11.5 million in COVID-19-related relief to support Iowa public school districts and community colleges.
The state received program funding in part from the $1.3 billion in discretionary funds allocated by the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was passed in December 2020, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Education.
Pre-K-12 school districts can apply for a portion of $8.67 million in competitive grants designated for the coordination and delivery of mental health services and “wraparound support” to students, youth mental health first aid training and implementation, and suicide prevention services and programming.
“While the true cost of this pandemic is yet unknown, we’re already aware of the devastating mental health effects on our young people,” Reynolds said in the release. “Expanding mental health services in our schools is critical to their overall recovery. When we care for the whole child, we secure better outcomes for them and their families.”
Community colleges can apply for grants from a pot of $2.89 million to supplement the state’s GAP Tuition Assistance Program. The program provides need-based tuition and training assistance to Iowans who are pursuing in-demand occupations.
“Iowa was not immune to the economic cost of the COVID 19 pandemic and it’s vital to our continued recovery that we offer opportunities for Iowans to retrain and gain the skills needed for rewarding, high-demand careers that promote job growth and fuel our state’s economy,” Reynolds said.
Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo said in the release that the grants will help schools support “growing social-emotional-behavioral health needs” and help Iowans gain skills required to obtain “good-paying, high-demand jobs” in the state.
Economic investment in the state also received a boost as The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board distributed tax benefits through the High-Quality Jobs program to three companies’ projects that are based in Cedar Rapids and Butler and Webster counties, the board announced in a news release last Thursday. The authority anticipates the grants will overall create 59 jobs and result in nearly $246.3 million in new capital investment for the state.
Sadler Power Train, which distributes and remanufactures truck parts, is planning a 10,000-square-foot addition to its Cedar Rapids facility to increase remanufacturing capacity and inventory storage.
“The project represents a $1.2 million capital investment and is expected to create four jobs, of which one is incented at a qualifying wage of $23.20 per hour,” the release stated.
In Butler County, Shell Rock Soy Processing LLC is building a new soybean crushing facility to produce crude soybean oil for food processing and biodiesel manufacturing in a $224.6 million capital investment that is “expected to create 51 jobs at a qualifying wage of $20.71 per hour.”
CJ Bio America, which manufactures amino acids for swine and poultry growers, received support to construct a new production building and acquire equipment.
“The project is expected to create four jobs at a qualifying wage of $19.47 per hour and represents a capital investment of approximately $20 million.”
The board also awarded grants to entrepreneurial service providers that offer technical and financial assistance through the Entrepreneurial Investment Award program, the release stated. Those providers are The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, Drake University’s The Startup Hub Des Moines, and The 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium.
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, which is partnering with Kiva, received $110,00 to provide entrepreneurs with zero percent interest, extended grace period loans “from active lenders motivated by social impact.”
The Startup Hub Des Moines, which is working with the University of Iowa to provide individual counseling and special entrepreneurial programs to minorities, immigrants, and other underrepresented entrepreneurs, received a $184,900 grant.
The 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium received $200,000 for the Black Business & Entrepreneurship Accelerator, which supports minority-owned businesses in the Cedar Valley.