This Week in the Corridor
Corridor Virtual Quarterly Investor Meeting:
August 12, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Defining the problem in economic development
In The Best and the Brightest , his magisterial account of the American run-up to the Vietnam War, journalist David Halberstam cogently assesses the mistaken assumption that led the Kennedy Administration to escalate US involvement in the region: “The problem was political, the response was military.”

Fearing that North and South Vietnam would unite as a communist country, and, in turn, other Southeast Asian nations would raise their own red banners, the so-called Domino Theory, the United States threw support behind the western-leaning government in the south. Someone obviously had to stop the North Vietnamese hordes from streaming south across the border as the North Koreans had done a few years before.

But in aligning with Diem, genuinely brilliant men in the Kennedy Administration chose to ignore or overlook the truth that he was a leader despised by his own people. The threats to Diem’s regime came not just from the north but from the National Liberation Front of Vietnam, or Viet Cong, an insurrectionist movement gaining influence within South Vietnam’s own borders.

Thus, as Halberstam wrote, the problem was political. It could not be overcome with more bombers or more inf.

There is a danger of seeming crass in drawing analogies from a tragedy such as the Vietnam War. An estimated 3 million people, including more than 57,000 members of the US Armed Forces, died in the fighting. Workaday issues must be called trivial in comparison.

And yet, since first reading it a few weeks ago, I have continuously thought about Halberstam’s couplet, “The problem was political, the response was military,” and how it relates to economic development. Recently I sat down with one of the early leaders of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation. He told me pointedly that the organization has strayed away from its original intent. You come in and tell me about new programs, he said, but you don’t tell me how the old ones did.

It was a strong critique, one that is still rattling around in my head and my heart, not least because I’ve heard similar statements before. Slowly, I am coming to the belief that these concerns are accurate, but only partially.

The Corridor has undergone continuous evolution over its nearly 30 year existence. Founded to align Clay and Dickinson county business leaders behind a single issue, the organization now offers expert services in business attraction, retention, entrepreneurship, workforce development and community betterment. With stakeholders asking our team everyday to take on new challenges for the betterment of the region, mission creep is a risk.

But it is in considering that word, mission, that I feel the criticism falls short. The Corridor’s mission statement, “To foster, encourage, promote, aid, or otherwise assist in the economic growth and development of the four-county region,” is broad—so broad as to encompass nearly any activity we wish to undertake. This is appropriate as our problem, accurately defined, is equally broad: How to stimulate economic vitality and career opportunities for future generations.

If a shortage of skilled workers is inhibiting growth, we need to recruit more workers. If that recruitment is impeded by too few affordable homes for sale, we must address housing construction. And if residential developers are hesitant because construction costs seem too high or rents too low, the only solution is to foster competition on both sides of the market. In this way, the scope of economic development pushes ever outward.

The Corridor team recognizes the necessity of relentless execution. We strive for excellence. And we certainly intend to do better sharing the results, both positive and negative, of our programs. 

But we also understand the need for agility and the necessity of saying yes to new opportunities. To borrow from Halberstam, the problems are diverse, the response must be diverse as well. 

Featured Real Estate
Commercial Opportunities
Location: 422 First Avenue East
Spencer, IA 51301
8,200 sq. ft.

Sale Price: $325,000

For more information visit the Corridor website!
Location: 331 11th Street
Spencer, IA 51301
3,306 sq.ft.

Sale Price: $250,000

For more information visit the Corridor website!
Around the Corridor
PPP recipients, you can begin submitting requests for loan forgiveness on August 10th. Talk to your lender to learn more.
The HartBeat of Main Street Grant Program

In partnership with The Hartford, Main Street America has created the HartBeat of Main Street Grant Program will fund solutions that help small business owners respond and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also help to revitalize and strengthen older and historic downtown commercial districts.

See eligibility requirements and apply now!
A 'Fair Food' fix

The Clay County Fair has announced two ways to get a fair food fix in the month of August. Mark your calendars for Non-Profit take out Tuesdays and Fair Food To Go. Non-Profit Tuesdays will start on Tuesday, August 4th with the Cookie Bucket and hot beef sundaes.

Special events planned Saturday in Estherville and Spencer to send off local troops being deployed overseas

A special event will be held Saturday in Estherville and virtually in Spencer to send off local National Guard troops being deployed. The public is encouraged to show support by participating in these events.

Learn more about the programs in Estherville and Spencer.
SOS Thrift Store in Storm Lake has re-opened

The SOS Thrift Store in Storm Lake is open again. The store is entirely volunteer-run and workers are always needed. Shoppers and donations are now welcome between the hours of noon and 4:00 pm Fridays and Saturdays.

Investor Spotlight
Each week we want to feature and thank the businesses and individuals that have committed to economic development and growth in our communities. To learn more about these investors and others, visit our  Business Directory !
Home State Bank
Sector: Financial & Insurance Services
Location: Royal
Description: Home State Bank, after over 90 years, is the oldest continuously operating bank in Clay County. The bank has weathered many difficult times, but has always continued to serve its customers and the community with honesty, courtesy, and professionalism. It is through these efforts and overwhelming customer loyalty that Home State Bank is truly the “the bank of generations.”
Sector: Business Services/Other
Location: Storm Lake
Description: ISG is a full-service Engineering, Architecture, Environmental, and Planning firm with offices in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
Jobs in the Iowa Lakes Corridor
Post your jobs where quality candidates are already looking:

See current job openings here.
Job Title
Success Center Instructional
Group Lead - 2nd Shift
Assistant Swim Team Coach
Maintenance Worker
Music Program Assistant

Safco Products
Okoboji YMCA

Questions? Want to be featured in next week's newsletter?
Contact the Iowa Lakes Corridor at ,
or call us at 712.264.3474.