SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Civic leaders are encouraging businesses to hire veterans so Sioux City can become the first city in the state to gain a Home Base Iowa designation.

Home Base Iowa is a new private-public partnership seeking to make Iowa a job destination for veterans who’ll be relieved from active duty over the next several years. According to the federal defense department, it’s the largest drawdown of active duty forces since World War II.

Local officials asked employers to sign up for the initiative, making an appeal Monday at the Chamber’s annual dinner, the Sioux City Journal reported ( ).

At least 10 percent of businesses in a city, county or region must sign up to get the Home Base Iowa designation. Sioux City’s economic development director, Marty Dougherty, said the minimum number is about 175 for Sioux City.

So far, four Iowa counties have received the Home Base Iowa designation and 60 more counties and cities are working toward it.

Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott said the influx of veterans would help new or growing businesses address a labor shortage.

“Veterans recruited by the program will bring our local companies strong skill sets including leadership, integrity and loyalty,” Scott said.

The program asks businesses to set a goal for how many veterans they’d like to hire by the end of 2018 and to post their job listings on the Home Base Iowa website. To qualify, they also must enroll in the state’s Skilled Iowa Program.

The city of Sioux City; the Siouxland Chamber; The Siouxland Initiative; the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard; and Iowa Workforce Development are collaborating on the local Home Base Iowa initiative.

In May, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a legislative package designed to establish Iowa as a more attractive place for former soldiers to live and work.

Information from: Sioux City Journal,