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Home Base Iowa Initiative Moving Ahead with Local Contacts

By Staff | Feb 16, 2016

Efforts are under way in Palo Alto County to reach the designation of a Home Base Iowa County.

Volunteers gathered Thursday, Feb. 11, to work on ideas to push Palo Alto County ‘over the top’ in getting additional businesses to sign the Home Base Iowa pledge to make the county eligible to become an official Home Base Iowa site. More than a half dozen people will be out visiting businesses throughout Emmetsburg and the county.

It’s estimated that around 200,000 service members transition out of the military each year. Iowa’s unemployment rate is under four percent and ranks fifth in the nation for job growth, making the HBI effort valuable to securing good employees.

The HBI effort helps connect Iowa businesses with qualified veterans looking for career opportunities, specifically in semi-skilled and skilled positions. To date, members of the Iowa Business Council, Iowa’s largest employers, have hired more than 1,700 employees through Home Base Iowa.

There are many qualities that veterans bring to a workplace. First they have leadership, followership and teamwork. In addition, they have a strong work ethic combined with a mission focus and are willing to do whatever it takes to ‘get the job done.’ They also bring a global perspective to the workplace as they offer fresh ideas while maintaining core values.

To help area businesses to make the connection to these prime job applicants, volunteers are going door-to-door in the next two weeks to help connect area businesses to the HBI initiative.

Volunteers making the business visits include: Mike Hermansen, Billie Jo Joyce, Kent Schmidt, Deb Hite and Cliff Christensen. Businesses which may have been missed by one of these volunteers may contact the Emmetsburg Chamber at 852-2283 or the K/PACEDC at 515-295-7979. Visits by the volunteers should take no more than 5 to10 minutes.

This dedicated group of volunteers will host the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce Coffee on Friday, Feb. 26, and report to those attending where Palo Alto County is standing on reaching its goal of securing 10 percent of the businesses to sign a pledge sheet supporting the HBI initiative. So far, the county has 19 businesses which have made the pledge to become a Home Base Iowa Business.

In addition to incentives offered by local businesses, the 2014 Iowa Legislature approved a bill that offers incentives including no state taxes on military pensions. There is also a veteran hiring preference which allows veterans preferential treatment in hiring decisions for both public and private organizations. Additionally, Iowa provides $5,000 for down payment or closing costs on a home through the Iowa Finance Authority Military Homeownership Assistance Program. The state also provides in-state tuition rates for veterans and their dependents.

An example of an incentive offered by a business is Iowa Lakes Community College. The college has been officially designated as a C.H.A.M.P. (Certified Higher Academic Military Partner) through the HBI effort. Iowa Lakes maintains its designation as a Military Friendly College by Victory Media. The college has peer-led Veterans’ Clubs and a scholarship specifically dedicated to veterans. There are on-campus veteran resources, career placement services and help offered for service member transitions.

Palo Alto County will be qualified based on four standards: 10 percent of hiring businesses within the community must become Home Base Iowa businesses, the community must develop an incentive package for veterans, provide an HBI signage plan to prominently display the designation, and a resolution of support from the appropriate local governing body.

The HBI designation would place Palo Alto County in an elite group of Iowa counties who are warmly welcoming veterans and service members who are transitioning out of the military and into the public sector.