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

Round Two

An old man was eating in a truck stop when three rough-looking bikers walked in. As they passed the old man, the first biker pushed his cigarette into the old man’s pie, then laughed and took a seat at the counter. The second biker picked up the old man’s milk and spit into it. The third biker turned over the old man’s plate before joining the others at the counter.

Without saying a word to the laughing bikers, the old man put his money down, got up, and left the diner. One of the bikers said to the waitress, “Not much of a man, was he?”

The waitress replied,” Not much of a truck driver either. He just backed his big rig over three motorcycles!”

That story reminds me of what F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”

Sysco (the Sysco that is larger than both FedEx and John Deere) recently made a rather large investment in Tama County – Iowa Premium Beef. As director of economic development I feel that we MUST do everything in our power to provide quality housing for the 1,100 jobs that are now being created (490 as of today). If we don’t, the workforce will work here and live somewhere else – and Tama County will lose all the economic benefit (tax revenue, school enrollment).

The first round = PROGRESS DEFEATED. This occurred when local councils rejected a housing developer’s plans to expand in several different locations. As I have stated before, I realize it might have not been in the most ideal location for some, but the truth is, there was never going to be an ideal location.  Ever! Many approached this project with a NIMBY (not in my backyard) reaction, claiming it was a great project, but it should be elsewhere.

I was asked by the developer why the new housing project wouldn’t move forward – all I could answer was that Tama County is a “risk adverse” community. And the more I thought about my answer I am right; overall, we are afraid of change. Unfortunately I see it a lot. I see potential growth trampled down. What pains me the most about projects like these, is that it’s usually not a majority of the individuals that help kill them, but rather a smaller, louder, minority. And those louder ones often don’t have the best interest of the community at heart.

Many residents have very valid concerns, however those same concerns would have been in any location – and they could have ultimately been addressed – public safety being one of them. What many individuals don’t realize is those taxes generated from the project could have been used to widen roads and add additional streets to improve traffic flow.

If we could somehow stop getting in our own way and capitalize on this huge investment in Tama County, then we could start to create the quality of life that we all are craving.  And then we can start another kind of domino effect – one that can then attract and create even more businesses to Tama County.

The second round = yet to be determined. (Let your voice be heard before we run out of rounds).

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