JOHNSTON, Iowa - City officials announced this week efforts to make Johnston the first in the Metro to become a Home Base Iowa community, working with area businesses to attract veterans to live in the area.
"The concept behind a Home Base Iowa Community is that the community puts together a package to welcome veterans into their community," said Mayor Paula Dierenfeld of Johnston. "The idea is that, with the reduction of forces that we have, we have a lot of veterans, a lot of former military persons that are looking for employment."
Officials say a major attraction in Johnston for veterans is Camp Dodge, home of the Iowa National Guard, and call it a significant contributor to the community.
"Every day here at Camp Dodge, we provide benefits and assistance to veterans from all branches of service," said Col. Greg Hapgood of the Iowa National Guard. "So veterans in the Johnston community are particularly well-positioned to get those benefits, to get information, to get advice. So it's a great community for a veteran."
The city is currently seeking donations to include in its incentive package it will offer veterans when they move to Johnston; Other cities in the state that have become Home Base Iowa communities have offered incentive packages including hotel stays, gift baskets, passes to fitness centers, the elimination of closing costs, and help finding housing.
Three area businesses have already pledged to be "Home Base Iowa Businesses;" Office Installation Services, Inc., DuPont Pioneer, and the Iowa Bankers Association in Johnston have all pledged to hire a specific number of veterans by December 31, 2018, and signed a written statement of said pledge to Iowa Workforce Development. Officials say they are asking more businesses in Johnston to come forward and take the pledge, as well.
The Home Base Iowa Act was signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad in 2014, enacting a number of incentives in the state to make Iowa an attractive place for U.S. veterans to relocate. To officially become a Home Base Iowa Community, a city must obtain a resolution of support from its local governing body. The Johnston City Council will take up its resolution on March 2.