From Jim Stalker
I know what you’re thinking. “He’s done this before. How many times do we have to listen?” I have this theory, if you say it enough times, eventually it’s going to sink in.
I’ve been in business way over 40 years. For a couple of years, I was the tourism director for a nine-county group of people also concerned with the slowing down of their county’s business. They felt, as I do, that tourism could be a boost for their county. So, in that process of trying to cover my area, we produced the tourism guide and distributed it to the key points within the nine-county area, plus all the visitor stops along interstates and the already established tourist stops in Iowa. It was a grand effort and a lot of work for volunteers. The tourism guide still exists, though I’m not sure how it is done today. Kathy Parmenter held the position of director for many years since, but I’m not sure if she still holds it as my wife and I dropped out several years ago.
The job of director kept me driving to the many towns involved. I could see how the different towns were held together, how they were laid out and what made them hang on and prosper. They hung on to their tourist attractions, what little they had to promote. But, it was interesting to observe how it seemed to work in each town. Bear in mind, tourism wasn’t the only drawing card to their towns, but it was a part.
Most towns, but not all, built around a square with the county seat in the middle, and appeared to do better. Winterset and Greenfield hitting the top of that list. Villisca not so much, but with the Villisca Axe Murders playing a part, nice housing and better than average community support, seemed to keep the town alive. Each town had its own unique draw.
Creston? There is much to say about Creston. The railroad built the town and the town built alongside it. In its heyday, Creston was the bright spot on the prairie. Passenger trains being the mode of travel, abounded. It was the center of activity for miles around and held that position for many years.
Creston today? So much change has occurred that the original town is barely hanging on. The tracks are still being maintained, Amtrak stops twice a day and a new Amtrak Depot is in the process of being built. Should be quite an improvement. There are many vacant spaces in the old downtown and only a few businesses are still hanging on.
If you’ve never been in business, you don’t realize that it takes many customers to survive in any business. Do downtown businesses a favor; stop in and make a purchase ... any purchase. Help to keep them alive. Start your own business and become a part of rebuilding the old downtown into the new uptown.