From the CEO: Job creation, community development stem from cooperation

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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By Kiley Miller, Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation President & CEO

Teamwork and customer service. Those are the two indispensables of economic development. Which makes a particular circumstance a couple weeks ago particularly sweet in my memory.

Here’s the scenario. A representative from a company outside the region called with a question: Does tax abatement apply on a particular Dickinson County property?

This sort of inquiry is common here at the Corridor and I was 90 percent sure I knew the answer. But county-city boundaries can get a touch wonky and I could not afford to be wrong. So what did I do? I called the Dickinson County Treasurer.

Kris Rowley, the treasurer, was on the phone in an owl’s blink. We talked through my question. Turned out that I had the wrong office.

At this point, the treasurer could have told me try somewhere else. Not Rowley. She recommended another department.     

Then came the pièce de rèsistance: The county treasurer actually connected me with office number two. Remember when you used to call a place of business, talk to a real person and get a real solution? It still happens at the Courthouse.

The specifics of what happened next have fallen into the crevasses of my arctic brain. I can’t remember if Rowley forwarded me to Auditor Lori Pedersen or Assessor Stephanie Sohn, but both would prove vital to the story.

After listening to my problem, whoever was on the other end of the line said, “That answer is next door at the (insert ‘Auditor’s’ or ‘Assessor’s’) Office. Would you like me to walk over there and talk to them directly?”

Walk over there? What?

My first thought was, “No, you don’t need to do that.” But what I actually said was, “Yes, that would be great.” So a county official took my number and promised to call back soon.

Obviously, I was not there for the Auditor-Assessor conversation, but we can infer from what I had already experienced that it was friendly and professional. It was certainly effective, because I received a follow-up call in just a few minutes. The prospect company had its answer within the hour.

You may be wondering, Was the company eligible for tax abatement? That’s unimportant. What matters is that three elected officials, through teamwork and unassailable customer service, met the needs of a business that could someday be a job creator for our friends and neighbors. And they did it without receiving credit … until now.

Such cooperation is not isolated. The Corridor team experiences it every day from Estherville to Alta, from city halls to state agencies; literally hundreds of people striving continually to make this region better.

As a friend of the Corridor, you are at the vanguard of this vast effort. So thanks to all the smiling faces out there. Thanks to all the friendly waitresses, patient office clerks, dedicated teachers and diligent daycare providers. Thanks to all the Rowleys, Pedersens and Sohns. And thanks to you.

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Tags: teamwork, cooperation, communication, Dickinson County