DES MOINES — Progress Iowa has launched a website they say will allow people to track federal money spent on critical projects in the state. The group aims to make it easier to search for this information in one place.
Matt Sinovic, executive director of the group, said the first-of-its-kind resource, IowaAtWork.com, allows Iowans to see online exactly where federal tax dollars are being spent in their state.
In Iowa’s case, it added up to more than $12 billion in federal aid in the last two years alone, from almost $5 billion on environmental restoration projects to more than $1.5 billion on education. The money is put into the hands of local governments, where Sinovic contended they know best how to spend it.
“They’re the ones who can then be in contact with the people who live in those counties and communities much more directly, not somebody in D.C. deciding this,” Sinovic asserted. “They’re providing flexibility and the partnership for local governments to do what they need to do. And then, they can work directly with businesses, with families, with constituents.”
Sinovic pointed out IowaAtWork.com can also serve as a nonpartisan resource for journalists, policymakers, local governments and average citizens to track taxpayer dollars and the progress of the projects they pay for. And it can help local governments determine whether they are eligible for any of the funds.
Theresa Greenfield, Iowa state director of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said beyond large, high-profile infrastructure projects likes roads, bridges, and broadband access, the federal investments have been beneficial for many smaller sectors of the economy, and transformative for up-and-coming food producers in the state, setting the stage for their future growth.
“Focusing on increasing our meat and poultry processing capacity, here in Iowa and across the country, and then really working hard to create more and better markets for our very small and our medium-sized producers,” Greenfield explained.
Greenfield noted in addition to allowing producers to track the investments being made, the website can help small business owners understand how to apply for loans, grants and technical assistance.