AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Friday, April 9, 2010
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks Announcing EDA Grants in Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Thank you, University of Iowa Executive Vice President Wallach Loh, for that kind introduction. It’s great to be on this beautiful campus of yours.
I also want to thank Governor Culver for being here. Despite facing an unprecedented set of challenges, Governor Culver is helping Iowa survive and even thrive.
There was a Pew study that came out late last year saying that Iowa had the second-strongest fiscal situation in America.
There is survey after survey praising Iowa's friendly business environment.
And as a result, Iowa is projected to be one of the first 12 states to recover from the recession.
That doesn't happen by accident.
It’s thanks in large part to the economic stewardship of Governor Culver, as well as the work of some other very capable leaders joining us today, like Congressman Loebsack and Mayor Hayek as well as Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett and State Representative Dave Jacoby.
Here in the Hawkeye State, you’ve faced more than your fair share of obstacles over the past couple of years.
Almost two years ago, the skies opened up and the rain came down—hard—here eastern Iowa. The highest river flows in half a century were measured in Iowa City.
The rain forced people out of their homes. Farmers could only watch as their fields and equipment sank under the rising water.
And if this natural disaster wasn't enough for Iowans to deal with, you were also hit by a man-made disaster.
Just a few months before the rains, the banks on Wall Street started to founder and our economy went into a tailspin.
But Iowans never lost hope. You never gave up.
And when President Obama came into office he promised not just to reinvest in our economy—he promised to make it stronger than ever with smart investments to spur sustainable, long-term growth.
Which is why, today, I am so pleased to announce $30 million in grants that will help complement the governor's ongoing rebuilding efforts and help Iowa communities come back better than ever.
The largest of these grants will provide $22 million to relocate the North Wastewater Treatment Facility over to the South Plant site.
A couple years ago, the flooding forced the North facility out of service for almost a month.
This grant will ensure Iowa City won’t have to go without a wastewater treatment center even during severe floods.
Now I’m originally from Washington State, so I know a little bit about rain.
And as all of you know, when flooding comes it spares nothing.
So another grant will provide $3 million to raise Dubuque Street, right behind me, about 12 feet to ensure that the main street in to Iowa City won’t be out of service when severe rains return.
And the grant will also help pay for replacing Park Road Bridge, a step that will also help dampen the impact of future flooding.
In addition to these grants, we’re also awarding $2.9 million to Columbus Junction to relocate the city’s water treatment facility out of the floodplain.
We are sending $1.5 million to the city of Dubuqueto construct a new multi-level parking facility with sustainable design concepts, including electrical outlets for hybrid vehicles.
And we’re also bringing a $232,500 grant to Shenandoah to rebuild its storm sewer system.
On the way down here from Cedar Rapids, I got some arm-twisting from Congressman Loebsack about flood recovery efforts in Cedar Rapids and Coralville.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Economic Development Administration has already announced a number of disaster relief grants for Cedar Rapids and additional investments are in the pipeline.
I hope soon to have progress on these grant applications. These will be an important piece in the puzzle of disaster recovery and the continued economic development efforts for Cedar Rapids.
For Cedar Rapids and Iowa City—for all of Iowa—this economic recovery is going to take time.
Even before the recession hit, America had experienced nearly a decade of anemic job growth. Wages for middle class families flat-lined, while the cost of health care, tuition and housing skyrocketed.
We should have known, even before the recession hit, that something was wrong.
But we ignored the warning signals, and by the time President Obama took office, the economy was in free fall. We lost 700,000 jobs his first month in office, and banks were failing left and right.
Everyone knows what followed. This administration took some difficult and sometimes unpopular steps. We shored up the financial system to keep credit flowing and with the Recovery Act, pumped life into the economy in the form of tax cuts, aid to states and infrastructure investments.
Today, there is wide agreement among economists that the steps we took helped transform an economy that was shrinking by six percent a year ago, into one that grew by six percent in the last quarter of 2009.
And infrastructure grants like those I am announcing today are part of this administration's effort to not only help our economy recover, but to enable it to emerge stronger than ever before.
There’s little government, or really anybody, can do to fully heal the trauma from the rains that fell here two years ago.
But let’s also remember that the rain also brought out the best in people. Even as it poured, small armies of neighbors helped one another to stack sandbags around homes and near stores.
Everybody knew that no matter how bad it got, there’d be a tomorrow. The sun would come out and we would rebuild.
And that’s exactly what has already taken place, and will continue to take place.