Winnebago County HBI Recipient: Home Base Initiative

Winnebago County HBI Recipient: Home Base Initiative Main Photo

15 Jun 2023

News, Blog

June 13, 2023: Last summer, both the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors and the Worth County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to provide $1,000 in relocation assistance to veterans moving into Winnebago or Worth Counties through the HBI program. The funds will be distributed through the county’s economic development office Winn-Worth Betco (WWB). WWB is a 28E agreement between Winnebago and Worth Counties and will fund $1000 in relocation assistance to a maximum of six veterans per year between the two counties.

In addition, Beth Bilyeu, Forest City Economic Development Executive Director, worked with the City Council to finalize the HBI application for the City of Forest City. The community of Forest City was designated as a HBI Community in November 2022.

Melissa Michaelis, Executive Director of Winn-Worth Betco, is thrilled to announce that the funds and incentives from both Winn-Worth Betco and the City of Forest City have been distributed for the first time to a veteran who recently moved into Winnebago County. Michael Looker and his wife, Angela, moved from North Carolina to Forest City this past spring. Looker was presented with a check for $1000 for relocation assistance by Michaelis and Mary Lou Kleveland, Veteran Service Officer for Winnebago County Veterans Affairs. Shawn Keeper, Forest City Economic Development Assistant Director, on behalf of the community of Forest City, presented Michael with a welcome basket including:

Dave Kingland, past president of Forest City Economic Development and a veteran himself, was also present. Kingland stated, “Creating a welcoming and supportive environment is the best way to show a community’s appreciation for a veteran’s service, especially when moving into town.”

Michaelis continued, “It is so encouraging to see firsthand the difference the HBI program can make for a veteran in a community you serve. We are excited to welcome Michael and his wife to Winnebago County.”

Kleveland would like to remind the public that her office assists veterans in accessing VA healthcare, filing federal and state claims and applying for local assistance. “The financial benefits that the HBI program provides for relocation are valuable. Equally important is the HBI program in the fact that it gives a tangible welcome to the veteran’s family and reinforces the warmth and helpfulness of their new community.”

Home Base Iowa assists veterans transitioning from military to civilian life by connecting veterans with close to 1,600 businesses, 21 college and university partners and 65 other Home Base Iowa communities statewide. The HBI program is all about helping veterans to have a smooth transition to civilian life. Winn-Worth Betco and Winnebago County Veterans Affairs enjoy working together to assist veterans through the HBI program.

Home Base Iowa designates qualified communities as centers of opportunity for veterans based on four criteria:

  • 10% of businesses become Home Base Iowa businesses and pledge to hire veterans
  • Custom incentive package for veterans
  • Home Base Iowa Community designation prominently displayed and
  • Resolution of support from appropriate local governing body

To learn more about Home Base Iowa, visit

End of Release


Winn-Worth Betco is the Winnebago-Worth Counties Betterment Council. Winn-Worth Betco was established in 1991 by a group of forward-thinking citizens to ensure that the area would see economic growth through organizing an economic development office. Winn-Worth Betco serves the economic development interests in housing, tourism, community development, and business recruitment and retainment for Winnebago and Worth Counties. The Executive Board is comprised of both the Boards of Supervisors of Winnebago and Worth counties. The Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from all 14 incorporated communities in Winnebago and Worth counties as well as one member of each of the county Boards of Supervisors in Winnebago and Worth counties.

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