DES MOINES — Progress Iowa has released new information showing how billions of dollars of federal infrastructure investments have made a crucial difference in the state, especially in rural areas.
A group of advocates met last week to discuss the investments. From farm programs to health-care access, and transportation infrastructure to broadband, the federal government has invested $7.8 billion in Iowa programs statewide.
Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic said perhaps no investment has been more critical than the $400 million to get Iowans connected to the internet.
“Access is an absolute necessity. You have to have it,” said Sinovic. “You have to have high speed internet to do business, to go to school, to get telehealth. So many of our rural communities, you have to drive so far to get to a doctor, but you can do some of those appointments via telehealth.”
Sinovic said at least eight million homes and small businesses nationwide still lack high-speed internet access. State data show more than three dozen projects are underway to connect more rural Iowans and businesses.
Beyond investments in broadband, Sinovic said the federal government has made access to child care more affordable, boosted energy-efficiency programs, and fixed major roads and bridges.
The state launched ‘IowaAtWork.com,’ an interactive, detailed website where Iowans can keep track of it all.
“More than 3,000 different projects across the state,” said Sinovic. “And if you zoom in you can search by your county, you can search by congressional district, you can search by category of spending in your specific community – wherever you are across the state, what has been done.”
Progress Iowa hosted a roundtable discussion last week to hear from people in rural Iowa about how the investments have helped their communities, but also to talk about which needs still exist