Iowa Uses Federal Virus Relief Funds For $3.7M Ad Campaign

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa will use federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for a $3.7 million national ad campaign that promotes the state as a destination for visitors and workers, an agency spokeswoman said Thursday.

The 30-second ad is part of a larger “This Is Iowa” promotional campaign and will air on cable television, online on social media sites and through streaming services, said Staci Hupp Ballard, spokeswoman for Iowa Economic Development Authority. Funding for the campaign will come from federal American Rescue Plan funding, she said.

The ad campaign supports state efforts to attract new residents and train existing workers to fill a growing number of high-demand job openings, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday in a news release about the promotional effort.

The American Rescue Plan was designed to help states recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S Department of Treasury oversees the use of the money and has said recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use the money in five broad categories: supporting public health; addressing negative economic impact to workers, households, small businesses and industry; replacing lost public sector revenue; providing premium pay for essential workers; and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

Hupp Ballard said agency officials believe the ad campaign expenditure is an allowable expense based on interim final rules from the Treasury Department.

The state had to return $21 million in federal COVID-19 relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act last year after Reynolds improperly allocated the money for a new state accounting system.

Treasury Department officials determined that the software is not an allowable use of the money.