Mount Pleasant Iowa Letter to the Editor

As a citizen of Mount Pleasant Iowa and the Great Henry County, I have taken a very active role in economic development. I am a volunteer who sits with the Entrepreneurial Committee, a committee of the Area Development Commission. The Publisher of this newspaper is a member of this committee as well.

I became more actively involved in this area of economic development because my wife and I serve many families and children with our child care and preschool center for the past 20 years. With so many job losses, its impact on our center has been severe. Mount Pleasant is our home and more so now, with my parents, Sal and Tiny Alaniz and our oldest daughter and granddaughter, returning to live with us here.

In April of 2009, I began to strongly suggest that a Strategic Business Economic Summit be held, open to the public, its citizens, business people and civic leaders, and for the purpose of creating a Strategic Plan, which had the input and participation from our entire community. Much debate and dialogue ensued and continues.

While pursuing this Strategic Planning Initiative, I continued to network with other Iowa Economic Development organizations, gaining more of an appreciation for those initiatives which were inclusive of the public and whose work was visible and communicative within their respective communities.

One such networking visit was an entrepreneurial event in Grinnell, and this provided me an opportunity to meet with the Executive Director of the Iowa Innovation Gateway, and the Director of the Regional Business Center and Business Development and Incubation at the University of Northern Iowa. The Regional Business Center serves as an umbrella for several key outreach entrepreneurship programs of the university, including a service/technology business incubator in Waterloo, an Innovation Incubator on the UNI campus, the offices of the SBDC and an award winning entrepreneurship development system called MyEntre.Net. An outcome of this visit was the November 4th, Entrepreneurial event entitled “Entrepreneurship Economic Development: Turning Policy Into Practice” which was very well attended by local and regional businesses, citizens and economic development organizations. I have received many emails recognizing the value and importance of this event and encouraging future initiatives. Following this event, and just recently was the Public Forum with the Area Economic Development Commission. This event, too, drew many people. I provided each ADC commissioner with a packet containing Strategic Planning materials from three regions, as well as an eight-page document of ideas and initiative suggestions. Other information included in the packet presented information on Minority Business projections for the State of Iowa, sales data for the fastest growing counties in Iowa, and other information that can be of assistance in developing initiatives.

Although I am very pleased that the ADC provided for a Public Forum, I will continue to pursue a Strategic Planning process which engages all economic development entities and significantly and most importantly, the citizens and businesses of Mount Pleasant AND HENRY COUNTY.

An outcome of such an encompassing and inclusive process, will result in not only better communications and understanding of economic development strategies, but also significant and viable goals and actionable initiatives. Your Vision and Leadership becomes Our Vision and Leadership. Many are needed within our communities in the call to make a difference and support our economic growth.

As I stated at the ADC public forum, I had requested a copy of our Strategic Plan and was informed that this document was confidential and I could not have a copy. Not a copy of the Chamber Strategic Plan or the ADC Strategic Plan.

In my travels and when requested, most organizations have provided me with their plans, some of which I included in the packets of ideas I presented to the ADC commission. These organizations stressed to me, the importance of a planning process, not every two years but that these are living and breathing strategies, action plans and initiatives that provide focus, collaborative action and are used as a means to communicate to the public they serve. Not one economic development organization told me “no”, that the information was confidential. Thus the word “transparency”.

I do not want to know nor need to know of those business entities seeking possible entry into our communities. Never asked to such. My father Salvador Alaniz Senior and my brother Joseph Alaniz were quite successful with the Alaniz family business during their ownership. I am not as gifted and I think many on the ADC commission know this to be true. As I looked at the ADC commission panel, I was so proud of your personal and business accomplishments here in our community and envious of your talents and skills.

Each of us have talents and gifts and should not limit our willingness, commitment and passion for what we know will be a much better tomorrow. Why? Because we choose to continue to live her in Mount Pleasant and to work hard, creatively and passionately for our families sake and for all of our citizens, young and old, of wealth or not, of status or not, for each of us matters. We can and do make a difference in this, our community. I live each day with the fears and worries that many of us have about our future and of our children’s future. Yet, there exists a passion and drive in me as in no other time in my life. Why? Because I have a faith that is greater than life’s issues and that this community is special and I am called to serve it in this way.

I encourage everyone, including our ADC commissioners to visit www.GrowHenryCounty.com and listen to the voices and comments of our fellow Iowans and regional development leaders as we all seek and commit ourselves to nurture and GROW this God given gift we call home.

His Grace lives in the openness of our relationships with each other, his Strength in our ability to work with each other, and his Promise of a fulfilling life, in living a servant life, no matter what our calling.

May we pass each other on our streets, in our cars and in our thoughts with encouragement and acceptance and with a commitment to make this, our community, a better home for all.

Visit www.GrowHenryCounty.com and sign up to volunteer in efforts to grow our community.

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