Over the past few days we have gotten a sneak peek of the new U.S. Highway 30 4-lane bypass as the eastern portion opened. The completed bypass is expected to open Spring 2011. But the physical road infrastructure is not the only transformation the area will be undergoing over the next few months. With this $82 million dollar investment in road infrastructure, some investment is also needed to facilitate the healthy transformation of the economic opportunity that would be generated by speeding up and doubling the traffic count over the next 20 years.
When this project got the green light the central focus was not economic vitality of Tama County. It was made to increase safety, mobility and reduce congestion on a critical regional transportation network. It was made because the high volume of truck traffic caused significant delays at intersections, reduced pedestrian safety, and shortened life-cycle costs of these roadway systems. The new U.S. 30 Bypass is projected to solve these problems.
It is now up to our local business, government and nonprofit leadership (as well as residents) to recognize and effectively build on the new asset’s economic opportunities, and make the necessary investment to translate it into increased economic impact. Here is a snapshot of Phase I of economic development strategies that are being deployed so we can help each other maximize the potential:
- Strengthen the identity of Tama-Toledo: A group of dedicated chamber of commerce leaders have been engaged in grant writing and design planning to produce entrance signs that communicate the character of Tama-Toledo and stimulate ongoing interest. But it can not stop there. Continual effort is necessary to visually affirm that you are passing through a special place with unique and valuable assets on the new bypass.
- Maximize Impulse Buys or Detours Into our Towns: making it as easy as possible for traffic to pull off the bypass has now become more important than ever. This can be done pre-dominantly through standard road signs to help new people find their way to points of interest to spend money on gas, lodging, food, or other retail and services. That includes businesses investing in standard IDOT logo signs, public points of interest signs, and historic signs, but can also be done with commercial road signs and signage on the property itself. To date every commercial establishment eligible for a logo sign has been informed of this opportunity. Cost is estimated to be $74/month.
- Capturing intelligence on Commercial and Industrial Real Estate with new potential: Now that we do have this 4-lane asset, rezoning and identifying new parcels with development potential are very important. To date about a dozen high potential parcels have been identified with owners willing to formally put it on the market. Another half dozen properties are informally on the market. This list is available online at available commercial and industrial buildings & sites
- Market the new opportunity that has been created: Not having a 4-lane was a deal breaker to some industrial prospects in the past. Now that has changed and it needs to be communicated. Apart from the existing low and no cost marketing vehicles in the portfolio, new sources for investment into marketing is needed. To date special communications pieces have been designed and shared with about 228 site selectors about the new development.
- Communicating unique funding resources: the majority of the properties located within a mile of the 4-lane bypass are considered to be a part of a New Market Tax Credit zone. But this is not the only funding strategy that may make investment into Tama County a project with the highest ROI. Free consultations with Tama County Economic Development are available to discuss these and other unique financing strategies.
PUBLIC INPUT MEETING WITH IOWA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (IDOT)
General details of the project will be discussed. No formal presentation.
Tue. November 16, 4 – 6 p.m.
Reinig Center, 1007 Prospect Drive
Toledo, Iowa 52342
Contact: Tony Gustafson, 800-899-0623; 515-239-1635
No cost. Public welcome.