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It starts with us

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 11:02 a.m. CDT

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Frank Liebl, Executive Director of Newton Development Corporation, to talk about the “re-branding” of Newton. He asked, “What are your thoughts on the City of Newton?”

After hearing the black hole theory and many more negative thoughts, I mentioned my understanding of the thoughts, but simply added Newton is what you make it. I have seen businesses closed and business ventures leave. Many of them weren’t that close to me, but a few hit close to home.

I then listened as Frank talked about remaining positive and patient about the changes coming to Newton as a result of efforts such as the Buxton Report and the re-branding. His idea was that it starts with us.

It’s not a secret many people speak of missing Maytag’s presence in Newton. The company’s departure left many questioning, “How do you get over the loss of such a major player in our community?”

Maytag leaving will always be a chapter of our community’s history, and while it was bad for a while, nothing truly catastrophic happened to Newton. The population never dropped by more than 500 people below the average population of the previous years. And, many news businesses stepped in with new jobs, covering about 95 percent of the Maytag jobs lost.

The next point we talked about was the Buxton Report. The city has received about 25 percent of the data on the retail leakage. The results have shown much of our retail dollars are being spent in Des Moines for reasons unknown as it comes to the statistical data.

I had a chance to mention the interview I had with Gene Meyer, President of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, on the relationship of the partnership with the Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce. The key phrase from that conversation was, “As a region, we’re all in this together.”

In a week filled with business and city government news, it’s amazing how you can look at what is happening and know simply we’re the only missing component in the plan. The Feb. 11 launch of the re-branding campaign for the City of Newton at the DMACC Conference Center will be another milestone event for the local business community.

I urge everyone to attend the event, which starts at 5 p.m. It will be huge, not just for Newton, but for the region and the state. By going, you will better understand how well your tax dollars are being spent.

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