Extension office helps Iowa communities offer quality jobs

Laurie Wiedenhoff

In an effort to help improve the quality of jobs in Iowa, Iowa State’s Quality Jobs for Quality Communities will lead a program to bring information about quality jobs to rural Iowa communities.

“The purpose of the program is for people to think through what the quality of local jobs they want is,” said Terry Besser, assistant professor of sociology.

Besser said communities find they cannot attract these jobs, so they have to find alternatives to help local businesses be more productive.

Not only should the residents purchase locally to help economic quality, but businesses should also purchase locally, Besser said.

Counties that will be participating in the program include Cass, Clarke, Lyon and Shelby. Besser said counties had to apply to take part in the program.

To participate in the program, counties had to not only want a career fair, but they also had to want to go through values clarification to help design quality jobs, Besser said.

She said each county was granted $2,000 worth of corporate sponsorship to use as “seed money” to start the process of assessing local jobs and holding town meetings.

Besser said counties also had to show that a diverse group of people were going to be involved, such as civic groups, youth groups and retirement groups.

“The goal [of the project] is not to bring in more or new jobs, but to plan a strategy to achieve having quality jobs in the area,” Besser said.

ISU Extension is partnering with USDA Rural Development, the Iowa Association of Counties, Positively Iowa and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference on the project.

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, the Iowa Newspaper Association, local economic groups and other small-town representatives are also involved in the Quality Jobs project, according to a press release.