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

Where is the Ship?

A magician worked on a cruise ship. The audience was different each week so the magician did the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem: The captain’s parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick. Once he understood, he started shouting in the middle of the show, “Look, it’s not the same hat!” or, “Look, he’s hiding the flowers under the table!” Or “Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?”  The magician was furious but couldn’t do anything. It was, after all, the Captain’s parrot.

Then one stormy night on the Pacific, the ship unfortunately sank, drowning almost all who were on board. The magician luckily found himself on a piece of wood floating in the middle of the sea, as fate would have it . . .  with the parrot. They stared at each other with hatred, but did not utter a word.

This went on for a day . . . And then 2 days. And then 3 days. Finally on the 4th day, the parrot could not hold back any longer and said . . . “OK, I give up, I can’t figure out your latest trick. Where’s the ship?”

This story reminds me that often our economy can seem like the mystery of the magician’s slight-of-hand. When in reality it is not a mystery at all and we need to understand the basic concepts in order to move our economy ahead.

One simple way to think of our economy is to imagine Tama County’s economy as a funnel with money and goods flowing into the top as well as money filtering out the bottom.  The funnel analogy represents a number of key concepts. First, Tama County is intimately linked with the rest of the world through the inflow and outflow of income and goods. Second, our county uses resources to produce the outputs that we sell. These resources can be available locally or purchased elsewhere. Third, the size of the funnel (our economy) is determined essentially by the inflow of capital and the lack of leakage.

So how do we increase the flow of capital into our county and slow the leakage of it out? That is the magic question. Often times the more difficult a problem seems, the simpler its solution actually is.  I believe one of the first steps will be for the people of Tama County to realize that they have to actually become involved. If you live here you are involved. Contact our office (641) 484-3108 and we can provide more information on how YOU can start reinvigorating Tama County. We have choices; we can continue leaving it to someone else (Des Moines or Washington) or we can take positive action to pursue a data driven strategy that can help fix our own problem.

ALL- HANDS-ON-DECK is a navy term meaning everyone on the ship get on deck (top of the ship) something is going on that they need everyone there to work on. Our economy has reached this condition. I don’t know about you, but at the end of this storm I don’t want to be the parrot – asking where’s the ship?


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