Joni Ernst meets with Latino IQ to discuss revitalizing Greene County
By BIONG BIONG
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, visited Jefferson last Tuesday, June 7 to host a Workforce Development Roundtable, and discussed methods on revitalizing and bringing more traffic to Greene County .
Ernst met with community leaders to address the workplace shortage taking place in Iowa, and methods to bring more traffic to Greene County.
Carlos Arguello, vice president of Latino IQ, gave a brief explanation of what the company does.
“What we do basically is we help organizations of all different shapes and sizes, public or private, really understand the culture of the Latino community, so they’re able to reach their stakeholders from a cultural standpoint,” Arguello said.
Arguello said Latino IQ, a consultancy company, has a plethora of uses, spanning from commercial applications to political, adding that Latino IQ can serve both major political parties looking to draw in Latino voters.
“What we do is we take a look at the data and metrics of a given community or a given area, and we dive into what the Latino community is like in that area,” Arguello said. “What they care about, what they don’t care about, their daily challenges, and really what they’re about, to spread that information to our clients so we can educate them on how better to reach that demographic.”
In regard to the acquisition of new talent, Mary Nieto, director of human resources at Greene County Medical Center, said the focus is not on only finding exceptional individuals, but also finding them locally, which has been an issue.
Despite the challenge however, Nieto said since she has been with Latino IQ, they have hired seven local Latinos. Nieto also said part of the problem is affordability of housing in Jefferson.
“Myself, I live in Grimes, and I’ve been here since January of 2019,” Nieto said. “I would love to come move here one day.”
Chuck Offenburger, Iowa journalist and community leader, said creating affordable housing to accommodate workers could cause housing to become Green County’s largest market.
“If we build housing to accommodate 300-500 families over the next five years, housing will be our biggest industry in Greene County,” Offenburger said.
Offenburger also said the community has been very receptive to the efforts of Latino IQ.
“Our population has embraced this, it’s really been a thrill to see it,” Offenburger said. “I think a big part of that is how comfortable the agricultural community has been working with Latino people. They know it works, they know these people are hard workers and they really want the same things we do, as Carlos said, a place to raise your family, a nice community, faith-based people, it’s a great fit.”
Offenburger also said the endeavors of Latino IQ will help to lower the average age of Iowa communities, and help to stop the diminishing population of Iowa.
“We’ve been losing population for 100 years here [...] and nothing has worked to build the local population,” Offenburger said.
“I keep thinkin’ ok: a multicultural workforce, using the Iowa work ethic, building for the global market. I mean, that’s what we need today, everywhere, and I think we can model that here, so I’m fired up,” Offenburger said.
Ernst said initiatives to help smaller communities need to come from within that community as opposed to the federal government.
“I don’t believe that great solutions come from the federal government, I think that it is our communities that are the ones that are finding these solutions,” Ernst said. “We can help with the policy and some of the grant opportunities and things like that, but, solutions really need to be driven by our communities, and that is why I think this project is going to work.”