The possibility of a state university in Western Iowa received support from the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday following a request from Rob Marqusee, director of rural economic development for Woodbury County.
Marqusee requested a letter of support for plans to establish a regents university in Sioux City. There are currently three regents universities in the state -- in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City. A study has been authorized on the impact of establishing a fourth university in Western Iowa using Iowa Values Funds.
"They've opened the door by authorizing the study," Marqusee said.
He noted that some people are skeptical on the possibility of such a thing happening in Western Iowa. Although, he acknowledged that it is certainly not a sure thing, Marqusee said, "We've got a shot at it."
University towns in Iowa have grown in past decades while the rural population has shriveled.
"If there's a silver bullet to economic development, this is it," Marqusee said.
It is not known how large the facility would be if approved but Marqusee said it would definitely be a brick and mortar project rather than simply an online program. He suggested that the university offer courses in developing disciplines such as biotech.
Marqusee has already obtained support from Briar Cliff College, Morningside College, Western Iowa Tech Community College and the mayor of Sioux City. He is seeking support from the supervisors of area counties.
State representatives Christopher Rants, Clarence Hoffman and Chuck Soderberg have a high level of interest in the matter.
The supervisors authorized the chairman to sign a letter of support for the project.