Buena Vista County could follow suit with Emmet County and join the Iowa Great Lakes Corridor of Opportunity, if talks continue to progress with the regional development group.
Last week, the Emmet County Board of Supervisors voted to join the Corridor which is dedicated to regional economic development through joint promotion of industry, tourism, and retailing. The group anticipated the value of joint promotion years before such programs as Vision Iowa or the Iowa Values Fund and until now has focused on promoting the Lakes area.
However, having less than three counties has left the Corridor out of such programs as the Iowa Values Fund which takes a keener interest in consortiums of a minimum of three counties.
In addition to greater strength in numbers, Emmet County is home to the main campus of Iowa Lakes Community College and Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative as well as Estherville's manufacturing entities.
While it cost Emmet County $20,000 to sign on the dotted line, Corridor Executive Director Kathy Evert offered no hard figure as to how much it could cost Buena Vista County to join the same group. It was Oct. 28 when Buena Vista County Supervisors Jim Gustafson and Bill Lanphere were invited to meet with Corridor representatives. Gustafson said Buena Vista County representatives will again meet with Corridor representatives some time in January.
Buena Vista County has also been approached by the Ft. Dodge-based Mid-Iowa group. However, at a recent Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors agreed that the Iowa Great Lakes Corridor of Opportunity would be a more natural fit, given the traffic already going toward the Lakes area.
"This is the local way to go, a 71 corridor," Gustafson said Friday. "This makes sense."
Calling Project AWAYSIS "a prime draw", Gustafson said, "I think we're a perfect fit here."
Gustafson was insistent that Buena Vista County be included in the Corridor's regional marketing efforts.
"That's something I would insist on," Gustafson said. "It's time to think regionally. It might be the best way to go."
While nothing will likely be determined at January's meeting, Gustafson said, "Two or three months we should know for sure."