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Let’s market Estherville to ourselves

March 6, 2015
Estherville News

What sort of entertainment is there for young people and adults in Estherville? Why do a lot of people go shopping elsewhere on weekends? What can't you buy in Estherville that you can buy somewhere else? Why have we had so many businesses close in the last year?

Are these questions related?

Most likely, they are.

Just as it did in the 1980s after the closing of Morrell's, Estherville finds itself at a crossroads. Like a lot of smaller Iowa communities, ours is faced with an exodus of our young people, older folks passing on and business closings. We would like to attract other people to our community, but first maybe we should think about keep the people who are already here.

Granted, a number of the businesses that closed over the past year closed due to decisions at the national level, retirement or some other reason not related to the local economy. The point though is that if there's enough business locally, other businesses will come in to fill the void. That's a matter of patronizing our local businesses, and that's the job of every person who lives here.

Another, more intangible, problem is one of infrastructure. A community that has plenty of parks, activities and entertainment venues is going to keep its people around - even on the weekend - and also attract people regionally.

There's been a lot of talk about an events center. And now that Estherville Lincoln Central is planning on moving third and fourth grades to an expanded Demoney Elementary in a little over a year, the district will find itself trying to decide what to do with Roosevelt auditorium.

Whether it's Roosevelt or another auditorium, Estherville definitely needs a place where adults and youth can go for entertainment. There used to be weekly dances years ago. Whenever the Black Knights Car Club has a dance, they sell out - or just about. Dances, concerts or other entertainment are key ways to keep people here on the weekends.

It's also important that we have outdoor entertainment as well. The City of Estherville is making some great strides toward building trails and they're talking about putting in a campground south of the VFW. And they are both great ideas.

We also have a great state park and a friends group that's helping maintain and improve it. And the Friends of Fort Defiance can always use as many people that know one end of a shovel from another that they can find.

Our county park system has accomplished miracles with funding that's a fraction of what neighboring counties spend on county conservation. It's important that our county supervisors see county conservation not as an expense but as an investment in economic development that will keep people here as well as bring them from around the region.

Right now, our county parks are the only ones with modern facilities. No one else - state, cities or private individuals - provides showers and modern facilities in campgrounds. That makes them an important cornerstone of our county's tourism.

Just like everything else, the cost of labor and maintenance continues to go up for our county parks. That's why it's important that Emmet County continue to fund this important investment as much as it possibly can.



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