The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 31, 2013

Tide beginning to change for Clinton area

Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — There’s something different about Clinton in 2013.

We’re only five months into the year, but already, this is unlike any other year that I’ve spent in the city.

I will mark five years of being a Clinton resident in June, and the amount of positive change happening in our city (and neighboring towns) has been unseen at least for the last five years, and judging on many attitudes of residents, much longer than that.

The announcement made by Cove Point Holdings to locate Clysar’s corporate headquarters in the Gateway area is not earth-shattering in its job-creating potential; instead, it’s an investment in an area that has seen too many services move out, rather than move in.

It was only two years ago that large employer Thomas & Betts left Clinton, consolidating its operation to two facilities in Tennessee.

The state of Iowa also has shown its distaste for the area in the last few years, shutting down the workforce development office and the social security office.

And that’s only the last couple of years. It hasn’t been easy in the 21st Century, but the tide is changing.

When I first heard about a meeting regarding Bemis Clysar, I feared the worst. Maybe it’s the “cynic journalist” in me, or I’ve seen too many headlines in our newspaper about companies moving, but I didn’t expect a good result.

But my suspicions were proved wrong.

This announcement goes much further than just a company moving into Clinton. It represents a changing perception that has surfaced during the past year.

I’ve written numerous times about perception and how I much I believe that it matters. Perception is reality, and even if that perception isn’t true, it doesn’t matter unless something is done to change that outlook.

Clinton hasn’t been that bad during my five years. But it sure seemed like it when talking with people around town or speaking with outsiders.

In the last year, that hasn’t always been the case. Sure, there’s still some negativity, but it’s not near as audible than when I first came to Clinton.

New tenants at the Lincolnway Railport, a renewed interest in the downtown and businesses investing in the area, are making it more difficult to have a negative attitude toward the area’s future.

It feels like the area is on the cusp of something exciting.

Oftentimes, the city of Clinton is compared to Dubuque. City officials talk with hope about that city’s turnaround, and whether that could happen here. I doubt many people could pinpoint an exact event that led to Dubuque’s makeover. Instead, it likely occurred over time, with a changing of perception from its citizens, and strong investment from the business community.

That appears to be happening now. I can’t predict the future, but from what’s happened in just the last few months, something is different about today’s Clinton.

It will continue to take time, but with strong leadership and community support, the Gateway area in the next five years may resemble something even better than what I witnessed in my first five years.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.