Tourism impacting local economy

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tourism in the area appears both substantial and steady.

In a report to the Storm Lake City Council Monday, Storm Lake United CEO Gary Lalone said that a recent Iowa Economic Development Authority study showed nearly $29 million in tourism dollars coming into Buena Vista County in the past year. Spending has been steady at that level since 2011.

“When you consider that tourism revenue was $16 million back in 2002, we’ve come a long way,” Lalone says. “It has become a strong part of our economy, and we need to continue to support a tourism budget and promote ourselves to a wider area.”

The agency, which serves both chamber of commerce and industrial development functions, saw 1,544 incoming calls, 216 referrals, 497 walk-ins and over 38,000 web hits so far this year, with a new website completed at visitstormlake.com. Lalone reviewed SLU marketing efforts, including advertising in Sioux City and Cherokee markets, a touch-screen in the Des Moines Skywalk, social media and text marketing programs.

Lalone cited Tyson for its growth - including $50 million in plant expansions and 500 new jobs within the past five years. Future business prospects include two companies utilizing the local revolving loan fund, and four more that have applied. SLU is in the process of selling two lots in the industrial park, and has bought land along West Milwaukee in hopes of attracting a business there.

In other business Monday, the city council:

• Approved a request from Iowa Lakes Regional Water to supply service to a home outside the city limits. The city has an agreement that it has right of approval in the area up to two miles outside the city limits. In this case, the city would have had to extend a water line to serve the home at high expense. The council passed the request, with the understanding that if the home is ever annexed into the city, the owners would have to hook up to city water and pay any compensation due to the rural water association.

• Approved substantial completion of the Expansion Blvd. storm water project.

• Approved a professional service five-year contract with Bolton and Menk architects for airport improvements. In response to a council question, City Manager Keri Navratil said that a local firm, INS, does not do airport engineering. The firm will prepare for a connector taxiway and apron rehab project.

• Went into closed session to discuss a pending litigation situation.

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