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

The Late Speaker

After twenty-five years in the same parish, Father O’Shaunessey was scheduled to say his farewells at a retirement dinner. An eminent member of the congregation – a leading politician – had been asked to make a presentation and a short speech, but was late arriving.

So the priest took it upon himself to fill the time, and stood up to the microphone:  “I remember the first confession I heard here twenty-five years ago and it worried me as to what sort of place I’d come to . . . That first confession remains by far the worst I’ve ever heard. The chap confessed that he’d stolen a TV set from a neighbor and lied to the police when questioned, successfully blaming it on one of the local trouble makers. He said that he’d stolen money from his parents and from his employer; that he’d had affairs with several of his friends’ wives; that he’d taken hard drugs, and even had started an illegal gambling ring. You can imagine what I thought as a young priest. However I’m pleased to say that as the days  and months passed I soon realized that this sad fellow was a frightful exception and that this parish was indeed a wonderful place full of kind and decent people, nothing like that scoundrel from my first confession.”

At this point the politician ran to the stage and apologized for being late, and abruptly interrupted. As he  took the stage he immediately grabbed  the microphone and pulling his speech from his pocket had this to say:

“I can’t believe that it has been twenty-five years since Father O’Shaunessey began leading our parish.  I remember his first day like it was yesterday. In fact,” said the politician, “I was the first person in the parish that he heard in confession.” the parish gasped.

What can we learn from this story? The priest’s first impression was very negative based upon all of the low character activities of just one member of the congregation. I believe we all too often take one individual’s circumstances and make broad assumptions about the entire community.  We need to do as the priest did and focus on the broader group as a whole.  I have been amazed by the people within Tama County that are starting to make a real difference within our economy.

Everyone reading this article has the opportunity to come see what these people have done (and are doing) on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Reinig Center in Toledo, the site of the Q2 2013 Pitch & Build. Now before you tune out and say “I’m too busy to attend” (watching Dancing with the Stars or The Biggest Loser on television). Please consider this one point – without action – nothing ever gets done. In order for Tama County to change it will take EVERYONE realizing that they have to actually become INVOLVED. Attending the Pitch & Build 5/28 @ 5:30 is a great way to start becoming involved in the growth of YOUR County. All Tama County residents are STRONGLY encouraged to support these entrepreneurs by contacting our office at:  info@tamacountyiowa.org or by calling  641-484-3108 to RSVP with Joanne.

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