Clubs and Organizations

Clubs and Organizations Howe addresses
Vermillion Rotary The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Neuharth Center on the campus of USD. President Mary Elelen opened the meeting and led us in the invocation. A round of singing, announcements, and introduction of guests followed. Rotarian Barry Vickrey introduced Steve Howe as our speaker for the day. Steve is the executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company. His presentation was entitled â�?�?A Case for Change.â�? He began by saying that there are many good things about the Vermillion community, but there are also some things, which need changes in order to meet the desire for increased opportunity. He has done some research concerning competitor communities. These communities are Clay County, Vermillion; Codington County, Watertown; Yankton County, Yankton; Lake County, Madison; and Union County, North Sioux City. He also posed the question: Why are some communities achieving more success more often than others? He pointed out that Clay County has declined in population while the other counties are growing during the period of 1990 to 2006. He also stated that household income growth in Clay County was not as much as the other counties in his survey. The median household income is smaller than the others and those living under the poverty level are higher here than in the other counties and higher than the state average. He also stated that many dismiss such figures because of the large number of students in our community. He also said this is a false assumption. Persons 18 years of age and younger in the state as a whole below the poverty line including those living on reservations is 18.3 percent. In Clay County the percentage is 17.6 percent. He asked the question, how can this happen in our community? Other statistics he mentioned included higher costs for rent in Clay County than in the state as a whole. The effective tax rate in Vermillion is higher than in the other comparison communities. He also pointed out that many of the jobs held by our citizens are in the services sector, government, and retail areas. These three have the lowest salaries. There are very few opportunities in higher paying areas such as construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade. The results are: a higher poverty rate, lower incomes, stagnant population growth, higher taxes, minimal outside revenue, and an unstable primary economy. Other communities have raised money for economic development to bring in a mix of industries. In conclusion, he said, we need to embrace diversity in industry as we do a diversity of people. We need to demand vision from our leaders and adopt a mindset of collaboration and not distrust. Above all, we need to celebrate our successes, look beyond our own condition, and support and fund growth.

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