Fairfield’s growth evidence very clear
Dear Mr. Gillander:
You raise a good point about the total costs of the projects being in place that needs some clarification. As these are city facilities we felt that the citizens should weigh in first with the approval of the $3 million dollar bond issue. If the voters approve, it will send a signal to the remainder of the donors that the projects are important to the future of our community.
The fund raising activities have already begun and the early responses have been very positive. It is our intention not to begin any construction until all of the funds are accounted for, so even if the bond passes, there will be no draw on the funds until that point. Even though this could take some time, everyone is optimistic that our community will rally to support the projects. Our track record for public/private partnerships is very strong and the generosity of our businesses and families is well above the norm.
I assume you don’t have children or grandchildren living in Fairfield, because if you did, you would understand the need for these facilities. These are economic drivers that allow us to keep and attract young families. Supporting these projects also continues the legacy of community amenities that our families have enjoyed for many years and in the case of the gymnasium, adding something that has been needed for decades.
I disagree with your assessment of our economic position and the lack of growth. First I hope you haven’t offended anyone at Cambridge Investment Resources for the 500 jobs they have created in Fairfield over the last 15 years. This is an example of the unique job creation that we have experienced as many of our great companies grow from within. At last week’s Fairfield Manufacturers luncheon, I listened to reports of increased orders and sales from virtually everyone in attendance along with reports of job openings at least six of the companies. Expansion plans were also announced by Agri Plastics, H&H Molding and Traffix Devices. Our new Career Academy will help train our students to fill the jobs that are open now and in the future.
Early in the last decade we set out to become a tourism destination to develop a stronger economy. Since that time we have restored our downtown, opened our arts and convention center, built a 16 mile loop trail, restored the historic Maasdam Barns and Welcome Center, opened a new Jefferson County Health Center, and received two Iowa Tourism Awards for the 1st Friday’s Art Walk. Our tourism economy was one of the highest producing in the state last year with a 7.4 percent increase in dollars spent in Jefferson County over 2010. Our local option sales tax which reflects the growth of tourism has seen increases over the last nine years of $2,475,000 that has allowed us to fund 50 blocks of street reconstruction and resurfacing and sewer improvements. Our Hotel Motel revenues grew by 10 percent in 2011. All of these tourism elements also create jobs.
The past two years we have seen the new construction of Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Kum & Go, Pizza Hut, TSC, Orschelyn’s, Sears and the AmericInn. We have seen Family Dollar move in to the old Hy-Vee Drug Store and the former Hy-Vee store will soon announce a new major tenant. The new construction of these buildings has added $10,749,000 to the capital base of the city and created over 200 new jobs between all of the companies. New home construction has been slow for the past four years, but is showing signs of improving with projects that are coming to the city for approval.
We have a long history of working together with the Fairfield Economic Development Association and the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce amd Fairfield Entrepreneurs Association to both serve our local businesses and assist with growth while working to develop new business opportunities. Nothing is more important to me personally than seeing our community grow in every way – especially in the area of jobs and development. There is always more to do and I have great confidence in our partnerships to create an even greater economy.
The framework of community amenities that Fairfield has established is hard to compete with for many similar sized cities and we are often recognized for our vision and leadership among Iowa cities. Next week I will be addressing the Iowa Area Development Group annual meeting in Des Moines about Fairfield’s strategic marketing and business success.
I believe the proposed projects make us a stronger magnet for companies and job creators. I believe it sends the right message to families looking at our community. I applaud the work of the Recreation Facilities Task Force for championing these visionary projects and the commitment they have made to communicating them to the public and working to get the bond issue past and raising the remaining funds. The new outdoor pool and indoor gymnasium will serve our community for the next 50 years. The city council has evaluated the level of debt that they believe is responsible to recommend toward the projects and now it is up the voters.
Ed Malloy is Mayor of Fairfield.