Maytag tremors affect Newton’s portrait outside of Iowa

Maytag tremors affect Newton’s portrait outside of Iowa
Date May 11, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

Born and raised in Newton, I now live in Washington, D.C., and it pains me to see the tremors that are being felt in Newton that will extend throughout the state with the closure of Maytag in Newton.

I have a true desire to see Newton thrive, even in the midst of the awful news about the closure of the Maytag plants. My mom’s husband, as well as many other friends and family, will be affected by this transition. As an Iowa transplant, I still have strong ties to do what I can for the community, which cultivated me and helped me get where I am now.

The closing of Maytag can be the kiss of death for the Newton community. But new technology has changed how communities connect to businesses. And, I’m sure there are many businesses, international or elsewhere, that do see Newton as a viable interest. That’s why Newton should absolutely hold Gov. Vilsack accountable when he said in his statement Wednesday that the “focus will be to pursue viable economic development and employment opportunities for the region.”

My question to the city government is this: What happens when outside business developers put their researchers to work and the first place they go is to the World Wide Web to learn more about Newton?

Well, when I visited the City of Newton’s Web site, I noticed first that economic development is not even listed on the first layers of web pages. The Newton Convention and Visitors Bureau’s site ( too, is not positioned to attract outside business investors. If Newton wants to appeal and attract new business development and applaud its community, why not start with a step toward re-vamping the city’s Web sites — the face of Newton for those outside of Iowa. Try a more user- friendly, professional site –especially for potential investors. See the Hagerstown, Md., for what is possible.

I know it takes more than a Web site to attract investors, but if you want to market Newton to investors, start with the Web.

To echo Kim Didier, I believe many of Newton’s townspeople possess the wherewithal to use this setback as an opportunity, to move from manufacturing to new farming technologies, tourism and small-business incubation (I think it would even be possible to get the University of Iowa or Iowa State University on board). I’d like to do what I can to help, and the citizens of Newton should, too, to set things right again for Newton.

My mom mentioned there’s a new biodiesel plant planned for Newton. Any chance the former Maytag plant space could be used for this?

Wednesday was a sad day for the community, the employees of Maytag and the history of the company and what it’s done for Newton for more than 100 years. But like the turn of the century, we’ve got to press on and adapt to these changes — and at the same time, try to retain the hard-working folks that have been the blood pumping into the heart of Newton.

Stephanie Heishman,

Class of ’97

Washington, D.C.


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