“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller
We live in a world in which “connecting” has more meaning than ever. Our social media relationships offer strong support to that claim. How about within our own community organizations and local initiatives?
Indianola has a number of examples in which public-private partnerships in particular have succeeded in a big way.
First, Simpson College. The Greater Indianola area is very blessed to have this leading liberal arts institution based right here in Indianola. As someone who spent 16 years in private schools, from first grade through college, I believe a lot can be learned about the passion, dedication, sacrifice, and investment that it takes from so many committed individuals to fulfill the mission-driven purpose of a private institution like Simpson College. Simpson College has succeeded over the years by having an engaged Board of Trustees of private sector individuals such as Bob Riley and Fred Hubbell. On the flip side, public sector support from the Iowa Legislature for the Iowa Tuition Grant has helped make college more affordable for students who desire the kind of education that Simpson provides.
Second, the YMCA. Indianola tried purposefully, though fruitlessly, for decades to try to put together enough funds and support for a project such as the YMCA, and only did so once a number of public and private sector leaders jumped on board to make it a top community priority. The City of Indianola was certainly the major driver, but could not have succeeded without a significant contingency of support from members of the business community, Simpson College, and the Indianola School District, both with dollars pledged and political support, the result being a landslide election victory.
Third, the Warren County Economic Development Corporation (WCEDC). The organization’s history dates back to 1992 and has been led by a public-private board since that time. Within WCEDC’s public-private structure, WCEDC receives investments from local governments in Warren County (the cities, county) and also from private businesses. Groups, individuals and entities with a common interest and values can come together and have a stronger initiative than if they were to solely act separately. WCEDC’s structure is especially vital to Indianola, which is on the southern edge of the Des Moines Metro – the ‘Southern Gateway into Des Moines’. WCEDC can leverage help from a lot of different partners to drive economic development in this direction while exposing Indianola’s development assets to the rest of the metro and beyond. In fact, WCEDC-facilitated projects going back to 2002 in Indianola have resulted in $1 million+ in ongoing property tax revenue.
Another obvious public-private partnership is a group that WCEDC works with often, that being our local Chamber of Commerce organizations throughout Warren County. Our Chambers build connections for and within our local business community.
I saw a tweet the other day, which read, “Relationships aren’t perfect. Perfection is when you can go through anything and still stand strong together.” Forming and maintaining partnerships is not easy, and can be tricky at times. Imagine Indianola without public-private collaboration, however, and a major part of what makes our community special would also disappear.