Say 'yes' to a collection of
rural Iowa counties that dared
Why a planned Jefferson casino will boost a region
(The following is the complete text of a speech Daily Times Herald co-owner Douglas Burns delivered to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Thursday, May 29, in Jefferson in support of a gaming license for a proposed Greene County casino-and-entertainment complex.)
My name is Doug Burns. I'm the co-owner of the Carroll Daily Times Herald, a newspaper that's been in my family since 1929. We've covered Carroll and Greene and Sac and Crawford and Calhoun and Audubon and Guthrie counties for 85 years.
More recently, we increased our coverage with the purchase of the Jefferson Bee & Herald.
Our family newspaper business also owns three weekly papers in neighboring Guthrie County and two newspapers - one county away - in Adair County.
I'm proud to serve on the Carroll and Greene county economic development corporations. I'm here today as a designated representative of the Carroll Area Development Corporation., which voted unanimously to support the Wild Rose Entertainment complex plan that's brought us all here together.
We don't just talk about regional economic development.
We've put our ink and capital behind a belief that rural west-central Iowa will turn around a decades-long population loss.
Our hope springs at the signs of youth and commercial vibrancy and the growing diversity and the astonishing crossroads of energy and agriculture and science we see each day in our coverage area.
We are, in a word, invested.
Invested in the business of rural Iowa.
Invested in its people.
And we are bullish on both.
You see, there is no sideline in Jefferson, Iowa. We are all in the game.
Today, you'll hear many appeals. Some reasons to say "no." Much better reasons, of course, to say "yes."
I'd respectfully ask you to consider two words. Bat them around, roll them over in the context of the choice before you.
Isolation and integration.
Greene County, for all its challenges, doesn't come before you on bended knee, with a beggar's plea for slot-machine solutions.
The Wild Rose casino complex is not something we view in isolation, a sleeved ace, lightning in a lone bottle.
The word of the day here in Greene County is integration. The casino plan is part of a integrated approach to rural revitalization. It involves the integration of neighboring counties.
It's at the center of integration of new business and industrial growth involving more good-paying manufacturing jobs at Scranton Manufacturing, career positions at a new Hy-Vee and an array of opportunities at the expanding hospital - not to mention all the inspiration and imagination fueling small businesses, some on our town squares, others in basements - or in that spare bedroom, where mom and her laptop computer are within earshot of a newborn.
When our governor called on Iowans to reach out to our returning military veterans with his foresighted Home Base Iowa initiative, Sid Jones, president of the appropriately named Home State Bank here in Jefferson, stood up and said, "We should be first in line."
Greene County, after much work and coordination with Gov. Terry Branstad's office, is proudly serving those who served as the inaugural Home Base Iowa community.
The governor made the announcement right here at AAI, an athletic equipment company, right here in Jefferson.
Whether with a mind struggling to overcome war's horrors or a leg hobbled from combat, veterans have a raft of opportunities and programs here in Greene County. This isn't some brainstormed promise about tomorrow, the trailing remnants of a soon-to-be forgotten Memorial Day speech. We're talking right now. Today. This is for real.
We fully expect some new welders and grocers and medical techs - and yes, some Wild Rose casino employees - to be men and women who have shaken off the sands of Afghanistan and Iraq - and now want only to make their lives in the fullness and serenity of life in rural Iowa.
As a Carroll native, I'm eager to see the birth of a new geographic designation in Iowa - one the casino will help make possible.
The Tri-Cities - Denison, Carroll and Jefferson. All within an hour on U.S. 30.
Denison brings demographic diversity and a rich history of ag-business.
Carroll, roaring with an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit, is a rural commercial powerhouse thirsting for a larger labor pool, for more connections - integration if you will - with our neighbors.
And on the east end of the Tri Cities we have Jefferson - a county seat that is positively daring in its outlook.
Of course, all of this integration, and the economic sunrise looming behind it, ready to burst into view, MAY happen without a casino.
But, in my humble assessment, the integrated future of dozens of cities, of farms and small businesses, of factories and shops, of old ideas that were never broken, and new ideas spinning with promise, WILL happen with your approval of a gaming license for Greene County.
So please, say "yes" to a collection of rural Iowa counties, who dared.
See us as integrated, not isolated.
Just say YES. And leave the rest to us.
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