DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) hosted and chaired a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee field hearing in Des Moines, Iowa today focused on efforts at the federal level and by Iowa’s businesses, local employers, schools, and policymakers to address workforce challenges.

To watch Senator Ernst’s opening remarks, click here or on the image above.

“With record-low unemployment and increasing wages, Iowa’s economy is booming and small businesses are continuing to expand. On my 99 County Tour, I hear from employers who are seeking to hire, but are struggling to find folks with the skills necessary to fill those jobs. That’s what we’re working to address and was the focus of today’s field hearing,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Through a number of my bills and by working closely with Governor Reynolds and our business and education community, together we’re helping to lift families out of poverty and into good-paying jobs, close our skills gap, and ensure Iowa workers and businesses continue to have the opportunities to grow and succeed.” 

Witnesses at today’s hearing included: Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA), Owner and President of Geetings, Inc. Lana Pol, President of the Des Moines Area Community College Rob Denson, and Fareway Stores President and CEO Reynolds Cramer. To watch the hearing in full, including testimony by these witnesses and questioning by Senator Ernst, click here.


During today’s hearing, Senator Ernst referenced legislation she has put forward, the EMPOWERS Act. This bill would empower states to develop and test innovative solutions to help folks overcome barriers to self-sufficiency and reach their full potential. In doing so, it would help get more folks into the workforce. States like Iowa could apply for temporary waivers to reform two or more federal means tested programs. To receive a waiver, states would submit a proposal for a cost-neutral pilot project designed to reduce poverty while promoting employment, savings, financial literacy, and family stability.

In addition, Ernst highlighted her bipartisan bill, the Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act, that promotes training opportunities for students, community colleges, and technical schools; facilitates the modernization of the current U.S. wind technician workforce; and creates career pathways for veterans to more easily enter the wind workforce through the creation of a veterans-focused jobs program similar to the Solar Ready Vets program.