Change — Healthy and inevitable

Change — Healthy and inevitable
Date August 12, 2005
Section(s) Columnists
By Sen. Dennis Black  
More uncertainty; more anxious moments; more apprehension on what the future holds. At least our local media is focusing major time and effort in keeping the community informed on what can be learned regarding Maytag‘s future. Unlike many media outlets across the state that wait for a story to fall in their lap, ours are doing what they’re supposed to — seeking the story by interviews and making the phone calls to those “in the know.”

Rumors were flying Wednesday morning following the suspension of trading in Maytag and Whirlpool stocks. Every imaginable scenario was there to appease the feeding frenzy. I received a call from a Des Moines television station seeking my comment! Like I would know what caused Wall Street to apply the brakes? Unbelievable! Apparently I wasn’t very helpful, because the evening news never even mentioned the story, let alone my comment of, “I wouldn’t have the faintest idea!”

OUR LOCAL MEDIA is to be commended for their daily reporting of the “see-saw” of events surrounding the pending proposals to acquire Maytag. It appears that a new proposal is on the table each week, and with that comes a different set of prognostications from the market analysts. Personally, I have a bad attitude about those folks, for literally, you can shop around for a report that fits your desire for the outcome of the situation. Really — check them out on your own, and you will find the market guru’s suggesting everything from “it’s the greatest opportunity for the company, workers and community” to “kaput!”

The only sure thing is that there will be change. At this point, no one should assume these changes will be disadvantageous to the community, and conversely, no one should assume them to be positive. The truth is, frankly, no one knows. Whatever will be, will be! Then, we make the best of it, because Newton is evolving. If Maytag “stays,” Newton and its citizens will rise to the occasion, and our community will improve and become more productive and prosper. Should there be adverse changes, the leadership and citizens of the community will respond with their ingenuity and resolve to protect the economy and quality in a way different from the past. This is normal. Think about it! What in your life is static? Everything is dynamic – change is natural, inevitable and healthy. With globalization, we have to expect change, and likewise, direct that change to a positive result.

Thirty years ago I wouldn’t have believed there would be an Intermodal on the railroad line east of Newton. In fact, I questioned if there would even be a railroad, because the rumors of the demise of the Rock Island RR were everywhere. Thanks to local efforts, including Maytag, Rollscreen and shippers across the state, a plan was forged with the State of Iowa and the rail line was saved. Iowa Interstate RR now runs a viable, profitable business.

The Intermodal facility on that rail line east of Newton is underused and would be a tremendous asset to new business and industry in central Iowa. The value to Newton and Jasper County of the Intermodal should not be underestimated. I trust our county is striving to utilize the facility to capacity.

THE EAST I-80 interchange of Newton will soon experience some dramatic changes. An infusion of state road funds to enhance the exit/entrance ramps and access roads will be distributed for serving not only the MotorSports Complex, but also necessary infrastructure that will draw substantial outside business investment in service related structures, i.e. motels, restaurants, gas stations, shopping opportunities, Interstate cold-storage, etc. Capturing additional interstate traffic will occur with these improvements. Build it, and they will come!

And, we know that ethanol and bio-diesel fuel production is in our near future. Everyone can well rest assured that expansion of alternative fuel production and energy sources in Iowa is no longer a dream but rather a reality. The glut for fuels for combustion engines will only grow, and Iowa is the primary source of the biomass. We can produce corn, soybeans and other mass for fuel production; we can’t produce more fossil fuels.

Diversity is the most dependable means for maintaining any local economy, with a combination of tourism, goods-production and service related business and industry to provide local job stability and area economic viability and vitality. If need be, Newton and Jasper County will adjust to change. We’re perfectly positioned in the center of the state, and will need to take greater advantage of our known assets — work ethic, transportation corridors, low crime rate, affordable housing and friendly people. What more could they ask for?


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