Committee of 82 Chairman: New Census Estimates Don’t Reflect Opportunities, Real Future of Rural Iowa

June 22, 2006

New census estimates reporting strong growth in the Des Moines metro area and Cedar Rapids-Iowa City corridor fail to reflect the economic opportunities and burgeoning trends in the state’s rural counties, said Doug Gross, chairman of the Committee of 82, an Iowa think tank.


“The Census Bureau numbers provide a snapshot of recent growth in the state.  Not surprisingly, we’re seeing more people in the western suburbs of Des Moines and around Iowa City and Cedar Rapids,” Gross said.  “That information alone might cause some people to write off rural Iowa, but it doesn’t tell the whole story and it doesn’t reflect reality.”


Noting the surge in economic activity generated by the bio-energy industry and expanding prospects in the bio-technology sector, Gross said rural Iowa holds more promise than ever.


“Many Americans have a newfound feel for rural living and that trend is going to have a positive impact on small communities across the Midwest.  The energy crunch created by rising fuel prices resulted in a boom in ethanol production right here in Iowa and promises to keep the focus on alternative fuels for good,” Gross said.  “Rural Iowa is beginning a renaissance – and recent data shows we have more growth counties in rural Iowa than urban Iowa.  Any suggestion that you’ve got to be on the interstate or in the suburbs to succeed and grow is just plain wrong.”


He added, “We should view the latest census numbers as a lagging indicator rather than a leading indicator.  It’s a sign of what’s happened lately and not exclusively where we’re headed as a state.”


The Committee of 82 is a non-profit organization that derives its name from Iowa’s 82 non-urban counties.  A think tank by Iowans for Iowans, mission of the Committee of 82 is to “find out what works in the effort to create a strong rural economy and then do it.”


“Increasing individual incomes is the name of the game for a healthy, expanding rural economy.  The alternative energy industry is doing precisely that for farmers, suppliers, employees and vendors,” said Diane Crookham-Johnson, Committee of 82 vice chair.  “This year’s gubernatorial election is an excellent opportunity to define effective economic development and agricultural policies to benefit the entire state.  All Iowans have a common interest in that outcome and we should encourage our candidates to engage in a meaningful discussion about rural Iowa’s future.”


Woolson Drafted by Gov. Huckabee’s ‘Hope for America’ Political Action Committee

June 13, 2006

Governor Mike Huckabee’s ‘Hope for America’ Political Action Committee (HAPAC) has hired Eric Woolson to coordinate his legislative, grassroots and public relations efforts in Iowa and a handful of other states, it was announced today.


“Keeping our majority is absolutely critical to our Party’s future.  I am very pleased that we were able to draft such great local talent as Eric Woolson to help us build our grassroots team in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota,” Huckabee said.


Huckabee, who is currently the second-most senior governor in the United States, said Woolson will help direct HAPAC’s efforts to preserve Republican majorities at the state and local levels, particularly in the Hawkeye State.


Woolson, 47, a 20-year veteran of the Iowa press corps before embarking on his public relations and political consulting career, said his top priority will be to maximize HAPAC’s influence in races in the 2006 cycle. “We’ll be looking for opportunities where we can have the greatest impact.”


Woolson previously served as Iowa press coordinator for George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign and was a part of communications teams at the Republican National Conventions at Philadelphia and New York in 2000 and 2004.  He also served as communications director and chief spokesman for four-term Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during his final three years in office. 


In 2002, Woolson founded The Concept Works, a public, media and government relations and crisis management firm. The Concept Works has offices in West Des Moines and Bettendorf, Iowa, and serves corporate, nonprofit and political clients.


Earlier this month, Huckabee announced that he had changed the name of his political action committee from ‘Healthy America’ to ‘Hope for America’ to reflect his broader public policy focus.


“America has a health care crisis, which has enormous implications for our society and our ability to compete globally,” said Huckabee, who has served as governor of Arkansas for nearly 10 years.  “We wanted to make sure that people know that there is also a strong focus on other areas which include reforming education, improving our national security, and energy independence, to name a few.”


The new ‘Hope for America’ political action committee allows Huckabee to continue to accept funds for his political activities, which include “helping Republican candidates, causes and organizations.” Huckabee, who succeeded to the governor’s office in 1996 and was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, was born and raised in Hope, AR.


His visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and other states are part of his commitment to “keeping the GOP moving forward as we head into the important 2006 mid-terms,” he said.


Huckabee, whose term expires in January 2007, will not be eligible to run for re-election. HAPAC is a state/local PAC registered in Virginia.