Sunday, January 14, 2007

Scenes From A County Road

Where US highway 59 and county road 175 overlap lies the sleepy, western Iowa town of Ida Grove. In a portion of the state that has never seen any sustained urban growth, Ida Grove continues to defy the slow death being inflicted on so many of Iowa's small towns. As the family farm races to extinction and the rural population dwindles, tiny communities that dotted Iowa's once vibrant countryside are starting to age. With that age comes decaying infrastructures with few resources to rebuild them. Fortunately Ida Grove has been spared that fate.

In the 1960s, Ida Grove saw the birth of Gomaco industries which was initially an offshoot of Godbersen-Smith Construction Company. Founded by an area resident of Ida Grove, Harold Godbersen, Gomaco would further expand the great fortune that Harold's brother Byron had already brought to this unique town. Between the two brother they would go on to bring over 900 jobs to a town of just 2350. Midwest Industries, Byron's Originals and the numerous spin offs of Gomaco have allowed Ida Grove to enjoy countless civic improvements that wouldn't have been possible without the brothers Godbersen's philanthropic endeavors. The tax base just wouldn't have allow what the brothers did privately. The following is just a partial list of the civic services Harold and Bryon had a hand in creating: the Skate Palace and Veteran's Memorial Lake, the high school sports complex, a newspaper, the country club house and bridge, the Ida Grove Airport, and the quirky castle architecture that adorn the Godbersen businesses and was replicated by countless others to give Ida Grove its' own distinct image. Even today in the years since the deaths of Harold and Byron their influence lives on, bringing prosperity to a corner of Iowa that time forgot.

As the various industries of the Godbersens began to grow, the elected officials of Ida Grove did something brilliant...they stayed out of the way. Instead of taxing Gomaco and Midwest Industries into oblivion and funneling that revenue through government bureaucracy, lawmakers put the future of Ida Grove in hands of its' citizens. In doing so, the entrepreneur spirit that once drove greatness in America took over.

The history of Ida Grove should be a blueprint for today's lawmakers who seem intent on meddling in private businesses. The Godbersen brothers showed that capitalism works and works so well that an entire community gets to enjoy the wealth of two men. Gomaco and Midwest Industries are nothing more than small businesses that grew beyond the normal definition of what we believe a small business to be. However despite achieving great success Harold, Byron and their respective companies always gave back to their community.

It makes you wonder if the story of Ida Grove can be duplicated in today's society? Can politicians curb their egos long enough to let the private sector handle the problems of our nation? From minimum wage to the tidal wave of massive corporate taxes, our leaders have sent a message to the American people: the private sector can not be trusted and only through government intervention can progress be made.

I disagree. I believe capitalism is working. I believe businesses already give more than they take. I believe that private sector can provide the services to the American people faster and more directly than the government ever could.

As proof, I offer the testament of Ida Grove...

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