Reynolds focuses on economic recovery
DES MOINES — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is focused on getting the state’s economy back up and running at full strength after months of closures and partial openings due to the COVID-19 pandemic hampered economic progress.
“Although COVID-19 as a public health concern is not over and we continue to manage it every day, we’re well into the recovery phase,” Reynolds said. “With the beginning of a robust recovery underway, we can approach Iowa’s comeback in a number of ways. Before COVID-19 we had a vibrant economy with low unemployment, high workforce participation rate, a robust housing sector and we had jobs looking for people in almost every single corner of our state. While our farm economy had struggled for several years, it was beginning to stabilize with new trade agreements and markets opening up. Our goal can simply be to return to where we were, which is an ambitious and realistic goal, or we can think bigger and better, and I am a firm believer that obstacles create opportunities.”
The governor announced the creation of an economic recovery advisory board at Thursday’s (June 18) press conference with business leaders from across the state named to the board.
Chairing the advisory board is Ben McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation. McLean pledged that the board will work diligently to generate innovative strategies, ideas and policy solutions to grow Iowa’s economy.
“In making this pledge, I want to acknowledge that there are immense challenges that many Iowans are facing today,” McLean said. “Iowans have always been resilient. Even in the toughest times we do not shy away from a challenge. Instead, we persevere, we innovate, we engineer. We implement systems that will enable us to emerge from difficult times stronger than we’ve ever been before and this time will be no different.”
Reynolds said there’s good news coming in different economic areas, including fewer continuing unemployment claims which dropped below 155,000 in the latest report released Thursday, June 18, after hitting a peak of about 205,000 earlier in the year. Another positive was the national increase in consumer spending by 17.7 percent in May, following a 16.4 percent decline in April.
“Our ability to bring Iowa’s economy back is really contingent on how effective we can continue to mitigate, manage and contain COVID-19 over time,” Reynolds said.
Approximately 1 in 13 Iowans have now been tested. A new Test Iowa site will be opened in Dickinson County next week following a spike in cases in that area. A site in Sioux County is scheduled to be open through June 23.
After holding press conferences as many as five days a week during the height of the pandemic, the governor announced Thursday’s (June 18) will be the last one televised. She will return to a normal schedule with one press conference a week. Those briefings can continue to be viewed on the governor’s Facebook page, IAGovernor. Reynolds ended the press conference on an emotional note as she thanked Iowans for their support.
“I just want to say a heartfelt thanks to all Iowans out there for being with me, for the notes and the prayers which you’ve sent my way throughout this really difficult time,” Reynolds said. “It really has sustained me and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate those notes and cards I’ve received.”