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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

2010 EDIES Story 1 of 24: How North Tama County funded a Field of Dreams

When North Tama County  set their goal on financing improvements to their sports program, they also looked beyond the usual local funding sources and reached out to professional sports teams with a foundation and a mission to help young talent. And they succeeded. Project leader Ed Hoeg from Traer, Iowa explains.  Remind me – what are the EDIES.

HOW WE DID IT: North Tama has a long history of dedication to its youth baseball and softball programs. We have always looked at how to improve those programs.

HOW WE GOT THE IDEA: The baseball and softball coaches looked at our facilities and put together a game plan for what was needed.

OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE: Because of tight school budgets, very little improvement to the facilities had been done since their construction twenty five years ago.  We were not short on the desire to make improvements, but lacked the big financial backing it would take for the project.  Each field was in sad shape, practice areas were lacking, the baseball scoreboard needed replaced, and the concession stand was in poor repair.

HOW WE OVERCAME IT: We gathered information on available grants for such projects.  We started with local support from the North Tama booster club, the Traer Foundation, and the Tama County Foundation.  We then added large funding from the Blackhawk County Gaming foundation, the Minnesota Twins fields for kids program, and the Kansas City Royals Royalty Fields program.  The Traer American Legion and local families of Warren Caslavka and Chris and Carol Detje contributed towards the new scoreboard. Local supporters put in hundreds of volunteer hours to perform the improvements.  It has been a real community effort.

ADVICE TO OTHERS: Perseverance. Find people who are interested in your cause and they will help you get it done.  Get the community involved.  There are also several foundations that want to help fund projects like these.

WHAT IS NEXT: We still need to replace the concession stand/press box. Beginning efforts are underway to decide on the design and then we will start again with the fundraising and volunteer efforts.

Economic Development Note: Studies show that small towns are better breeding grounds for athletes than cities, and sports psychologists are using these data to question our ideas about talent development. A Wall Street Journal explains Why Small Towns Breed Pro Athletes

Photo of project leader Ed Hoeg by Mo Co Creative Photography Division

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