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Power of Connection Grant Awarded to Benefit Winneshiek County


DECORAH, Iowa (Dec.15, 2020) – A local effort to meet child care needs has received $5,000 through a Power of Connection grant administered jointly by ITC Midwest and the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC).

With a population of 7,600, Decorah is the largest community in a seven-county region, and its population is declining. There are many positives in the local economy including low unemployment, adequate housing, a supportive entrepreneurial environment, well-maintained community infrastructure, and abundant natural and recreational resources. However, in large part because of a child care shortage, small and large businesses find it is increasingly difficult to fill job vacancies, and they are struggling to recruit and retain skilled employees. Like many other areas, much of northeast Iowa is considered a “child care desert”. A 2019 survey of households within 20 miles of Decorah identified more than 520 children who need child care immediately.

Through a project initiated by Winneshiek County Development and Tourism, a private-public partnership is being developed to build an innovative Child Development and Discovery Center in Decorah to alleviate the shortage of child care while supporting other child care providers and educational partners throughout the region. The vision is for the center to incorporate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and active learning spaces for children from six weeks to 12 years.

The grant program, launched late last year by ITC Midwest and IRDC, is intended to help fund feasibility studies, strategic planning and non-construction/equipment elements of a rural project.  For the Decorah child care project, the funds will be used towards the architectural and design development phase of the building project, which will begin in January. 

“We are so excited to be supported by ITC Midwest. This grant is incredibly helpful for us to continue to make progress with this new-innovative model – addressing the child care shortage like many other rural communities and counties,” said Stephanie Fromm, Executive Director of Winneshiek County Development and Tourism. “We are also very grateful to Decorah Jobs, Inc. as many of the board members personally contributed to this early planning phase for research and design. Our team intends to leverage every contribution against state and federal grant opportunities to keep moving forward.”

“The lack of affordable, quality child care is constraining economic development throughout rural areas of the state and the region,” noted ITC Midwest President Dusky Terry. “By working together, communities can overcome this challenge. Through the Power of Connection program in collaboration with the Iowa Rural Development Council, ITC Midwest is pleased to support the child care initiative being planned in Decorah to improve the overall quality of life and spur economic development throughout the area.”

Communities eligible for the Power of Connection program must have populations of under 10,000 and be outside of a metropolitan area. Power of Connectiongrant dollars cannot be used for construction, real estate or equipment.

For more information about program details, contact IRDC Executive Director Bill Menner at DIRECTOR@IOWARDC.ORG or call 641-990-4757.


About ITC Midwest   
ITC Midwest LLC is a subsidiary of ITC HOLDINGS CORP., the largest independent electricity transmission company in the U.S. ITC Midwest operates nearly 6,700 circuit miles of transmission lines in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri, and holds utility status in Wisconsin. ITC Midwest is headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and maintains regional operating facilities in Dubuque, Iowa City and Perry, Iowa; and Albert Lea and Lakefield, Minnesota.  For further information visit WWW.ITC-HOLDINGS.COM. ITC is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. For further information visit WWW.FORTISINC.COM.

About the Iowa Rural Development Council
The IOWA RURAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL is a non-profit public-private partnership featuring members ranging from federal agencies to utilities, universities and community colleges and for-profit entities.  The Council is a federal Farm Bill-authorized organization that seeks to empower rural communities and bring together partners to advance the interests of rural Iowa.  

Media Contacts: 

Bill Menner, Executive Director, Iowa Rural Development Council 
DIRECTOR@IOWARDC.ORG or 641-990-4757

Rod Pritchard, Manager of Marketing and Communications, ITC Midwest

Stephanie Fromm, Executive Director of Winneshiek County Development and Tourism