On November 8, I celebrated 60 days on the job as President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. It has been a busy two months!
In addition to getting to know the staff and board, I’ve met with partner organizations, grant recipients, community leaders, elected officials, and business owners. In spite of the immediate challenges, what I hear from everyone is real excitement about the future of our region.
• Advance Southwest Iowa, in collaboration with the Council Bluffs Chamber, City of Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County and Iowa West Foundation, is conducting an in-depth study to identify the best places for our region to grow new business. Together with other stakeholders, they also are taking the lead on developing an 8-page feature on Southwest Iowa for the upcoming Iowa Livability Magazine.
• After a lot of staff work and recent City Council action, Council Bluffs has paved the way for walkable/rideable communities along the new FIRST AVE trail. Future commercial and residential developments along this corridor have the potential to create an entirely new kind of living space in our community.
• The City of Council Bluffs, in partnership with Pottawattamie County, cut the ribbon on Eastern Hills Drive, making our newest neighborhoods even more attractive to workers who will fill thousands of expected new jobs at UNMC and elsewhere. The project also introduced our region’s first traffic roundabout. Check out the movie “European Vacation” for lessons on how (not) to navigate a traffic circle.
And there also was an important election during my first two months on the job. Among the many critical issues that voters considered on Nov. 3 were three ballot measures that authorized gaming in Nebraska. Racetracks in Omaha, Lincoln and South Sioux City are expected to have slot machine gaming by the end of next year.