We are finalizing our 2010 Annual Report for our upcoming 2010 Awards Banquet (woo hoo!) and have added a new feature to this year’s report: a look back at ten years of economic development in Valley County. The look back is quite striking – it’s also a major reason for the “why” of why I moved to the community. I wanted to be part of something special, something that was remarkable given all the chips stacked against Ord and Valley County. I’m a sucker for an underdog (the reason why I think this game is the greatest in college football history).
While we continue to have our challenges like population out-migration and the issues that family farm consolidation can present, you have to remember the peak county population in Valley County was 1920. Demographic change in Valley County has been a 90-year trend; ten years of positive economic development won’t arrest that decline entirely. Economic development has been one of the institutions of change that has helped to create a new sense of hope, a new sense of acheivement for a community that in 2000 looked like countless other community across the Great Plains and Upper Midwest. In 2000, we were dying.
Today is different: we have a newly renovated downtown, new primary employers like the ethanol plant and export-based manufacturers, a new hospital, a newly renovated school, a new fire hall, a new housing development, two industrial parks, a beautiful and newly renovated walking trail and fishing pond at Aubles, a new community college presence and most importantly – a new sense of hope for the future. Young people are moving back; new businesses are opening and existing businesses are being passed to a new generation of owners.
We are now looked at as a national model for rural development excellence. Why? In ten years, Valley County has seen 105 new businesses created, 20 business expansions and 22 business transfers. Public-private investment has totaled more than $120 million dollars. Don’t believe us? Here’s the proof. And when you calculate that we lost only 22/105 businesses during that time, you can see we’re far short of the national business failure rate of 50% at five years.
So, you may ask, what does ten years of development actually look like in data form? Are you, the Valley County taxpayer, getting anything for your tax support of economic development? We think so – look at the data below and evaluate whether you feel that is the case.
Here’s to the next ten years. We’re looking forward to conquering the challenges in front of us.
Median Household Income Growth
Non-Farm Employment Growth