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Meyer receives award

Col James Dignan (left), President and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the other award winner,along Sarah Thorn (center), Senior Director of Global Government Affairs at Walmart and Kurt Meyer (right).

Kurt Meyer, Chair of the Tri-County Democrats of Mitchell, Howard and Worth Counties, received the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Leading Globally Matters Locally Award on Monday, June 17, in Washington, D.C., as part of the organization’s State Leaders Summit.

The award recognizes his efforts to champion U.S. diplomacy and development programs which strengthen Iowa's economy and help keep America safe.

The Summit, held in Washington, D.C., included more than 600 business, military, government, non-profit and faith leaders from across the country. It included a day on Capitol Hill to urge Iowa lawmakers to protect funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Meyer, who has been involved with USGLC for about 18 months, said he was surprised, “a bit overwhelmed and very honored.”

Meyer said receiving the award and attending the gathering in Washington, D.C. fortified his belief Iowans are truly international citizens. “We do have an impact on matters globally, although we often may not see it or think of it in this way,” he said. “I returned to North Iowa more committed than ever to doing my part.”

When asked how he is able to relate the ideas of “leading globally, matter locally” to individuals in North Iowa, Meyer said, “As the name of the award suggests, perhaps the best way for any of us living in rural Iowa to be a global leader begins with understanding we are indeed part of a global community.

“So, not only do we need to consider future generations in all our decision-making, we also need to consider the impact of our decisions on the rest of the world… which is no small challenge.”

Meyer said one of his hopes is “people, of all times and in all places, will somehow find opportunities to fulfill their true potential, whether that be in their families, in their work, in their neighborhood, etc.

“Naturally, there are barriers to this happening… some more likely to be encountered on other continents. And some, unfortunately, all too likely to be encountered in the U.S., even in North Iowa.”

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Meyer said rural Iowans cannot ignore the fact there are some Iowans who lack access to high-quality healthcare, who lack access to a nurturing and supportive family or community, and those who lack access to educational opportunities.

“The availability of these essentials does not guarantee success, but lack of access to these items makes it very difficult for people to actually lead and live full lives,” he said. “Furthermore, for those of us blessed with opportunities, there is a strong obligation I feel, and I think it’s one shared by many Iowan, to do our absolute best to extend these opportunities to others. Sometimes these others may be across the road; sometimes they may be across the globe.”

The award specifically recognizes recipients for their efforts in U.S. diplomacy and development programs that strengthen Iowa’s economy and help keep America safe.

In recent months, Meyer said he has done his part of a significant ongoing effort to make contact with Democratic presidential candidates and engage with them in conversations about international diplomacy and development.

“International programs have magnified implications for Iowans, in part because of our role in feeding the world and also because our manufactured products are often marketed throughout the globe,” he said. “Accordingly, many Iowans have an international perspective, which we like to point out to those seeking support in next February’s precinct caucuses.”

During their time on Capitol Hill, Meyer said the Iowa USGLC team met with all six offices of Iowa’s congressional delegation. He said staff members listened intently to their views and ideas.

“I made sure to mention our federal budget allocates approximately 1% for international diplomacy and development,” Meyer said. “Yet this relatively small amount has staggering implications for the future of our world. As former Secretary of Defense James Mattis often noted when he was in the Cabinet, ‘if you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.’”

When asked why American development and diplomacy are critical issues for communities across Iowa – not just North Iowa, Meyer said, “Although there are many possible answers here, one major way comes to mind. Because we in Iowa, and in the Midwest, generally, are at the tip of the spear when it comes to agricultural exports and, in many cases, manufacturing exports as well.

“So, when high tariffs are placed on items, there are major implications on communities that engage in agriculture and manufacturing. We are an essential part of a global network that extends throughout the world but often begins in our fields, on our farms, up and down Main Street, and in manufacturing plants, large and small, on the edge of town.”

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