Although I have not been a dedicated reader of the Reader, I have never seen criticism of it as "anti-business." (See "Defining Pro-Business News," River Cities' Reader Issue 622, February 28-March 6, 2007.) What people need to understand is that criticism is often a great way for businesses to understand their weaknesses and improve on them. Since a business can never objectively look at itself, it should rely on the feedback of clients and the community to identify and solve problems or expand and grow.

I agree that the silver-bullet theory has gone on too long here. Having grown up in this market during the '80s, I saw what putting your eggs in one basket can do. Manufacturing was not kind to us then, and still is not the only solution to bringing in professional jobs and market growth. I also think that one of the biggest oversights in this community is the lack of development and diversity of professional white-collar jobs. If you look at markets like Des Moines, you see a lot of white-collar office buildings, such as those for insurance, finance, and technology. A lot of that doesn't exist here. You don't see large "corporate" parks with beautiful office buildings, fountains, and a waiting list for occupants. The idea of a "corporate" office park here is putting up a series Butler-style light-industrial buildings and slapping a sign on the fronts. And a new medical park doesn't count, either!

That said, I am not bashing industrial or manufacturing. They are a vital part of any economy, and many other professional businesses rely on the products they make. However, when industry is not doing well, there are a lot of people faced with unemployment and nowhere to go. In a lot of cases, their solution is to move away entirely.

Finally, another aspect is one of age. The Quad Cities is not seen as a young market, nor is it. We have at least two groups in the Quad Cities, Next and YPN, dedicated to retaining and attracting young people. While this is a great and much-needed effort, if there are no professional jobs for people, how can they afford to live here? Getting people to live and stay here is ultimately the factor that will dictate whether the Quad Cities will need to find new sources of employment, whether startup or large corporation, in the first place.

After all, if there are no people, who needs a job?


Ryan Orr

(Via the River Cities' Reader Web site.)

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