Connecting state and local government leaders
Helping military veterans and families advance their careers through government collaboration, while also shrinking the Hawkeye State’s skills gap.
This the sixth in a series of profiles on the 50 finalists for Route Fifty’s Navigator Awards program. The first 10 finalists were from the Government Allies and Cross-Sector Partners category. Finalists 11-20 were from the Agency and Department Leadership category. Finalists 21-30 were from the Executive Leadership category. Finalists 31-40 were from the Next Generation category. Finalists 41-50 were from the Data and IT Innovators category. Explore our complete list of 50 finalists .
In an era of online dating, Iowa is playing matchmaker of a different sort—connecting military veterans with affordable communities conducive to their skill sets.
The Home Base Iowa team, led by program manager Jason Kemp , consists of state, local, private sector and academic partners working together to provide veteran and transitioning service members improved access to education and employment opportunities.
In 2014, a bipartisan group of legislators established the nonprofit, public-private partnership with significant benefits:
- A state income tax exemption on military pensions
- $5,000 in military homeowner assistance
- Veteran preference in employment
- Streamlined occupational licensure processes
- Automatic in-state tuition for veterans and their families
County and city leaders offer their own incentives, such as requiring HBI communities to commit 10 percent of local businesses to hiring veterans. Warren County, for instance, includes a $1,000 cash bonus to veterans who are first-time home buyers while its Economic Development Corporation offers that same amount to those starting or expanding a local business.
Educational affiliates called Certified Higher Academic Military Partners, or CHAMPs, offer financial aid and on-campus resources to veterans—including 100 percent tuition assistance to those serving in the Iowa National Guard .
HBI businesses actively recruit veterans while marketing the program.
Since Home Base Iowa’s start, it has grown to encompass 1,300 partner businesses, 7,000 pledged jobs and GI bill apprenticeships, 19 CHAMPs and 40 communities—soon to be 55. More than 2,350 veterans have found employment and 876 have bought homes through the program.
According to the Navigator Award nomination submission from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds:
The HBI program is a truly unique collaborative effort by the entire state of Iowa to bring veterans and their families to a state that values, honors and repays their service. State and local leaders remain active champions for the program that continues to drive program success, but more importantly ease transitions for those who have served our nation.
Perhaps that’s why last year the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named Iowa an All*Vet State through the Hiring Our Heroes program, and the state has earned several other accolades for veteran access to jobs, housing and health care.
Dave Nyczepir is news editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.