Sen. Joni Ernst toured Lake City’s Main Street this past weekend to speak with local business owners and community leaders as part of her yearly 99-county tour. Ernst visited with owners and employees at six different locations to learn more about the businesses and what challenges they face. Almost every stop included concerns about reliable, fast internet and a lack of skilled labor. Ernst says President Donald Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan could solve both of those problems. The plan requests $200 billion from the federal government to entice private businesses to increase their contributions to the nation’s infrastructure. Ernst says this will allow providers to reach underserviced areas more efficiently.

Twenty-five percent, or $50 billion, of that money is to be set aside specifically for rural projects. Ernst applauds the focus on less populated areas, saying it gives these regions a chance to vie for federal funding.

Ernst says some of that money will be awarded in a manner similar to grants to organizations that show an interest in expanding their coverage area. She believes it will be easier for employers to encourage new workers to move into the area with more modern infrastructure in place. Her visit to Lake City was a part of her fourth 99-county tour since her election in 2014 and included stops at the Capri Theatre, Celebrations to Go, Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Mid-Iowa Insurance, Cornerstone Suites and Towne Square Quilt Shoppe.