Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On a Roll!

Council Bluffs, IA (population 58,268) is a town on a roll. It has a good, diversified manufacturing base and is quickly expanding an already strong retail base. In the past five years it has built/landed a new 60,000 sf convention center, 6,000 seat arena, a Bass Pro and many other retailers. I was there for their annual Chamber of Commerce meeting where the theme was Ignite Potential. And from what I saw there is plenty of potential to ignite.

Even though my impression prior to my visit was that Council Bluffs was an old river town, the actual old downtown sits about 3 miles east of the Missouri River due to flooding concerns in the 1800s. The town quickly developed as a major railroad center with three lines meeting in Council Bluffs. General Dodge (his old mansion is now a museum) started the first transcontinental railroad from here. Other interesting sites for me were the Squirrel Cage Jail which rotated around a central core so that one jailer could take care of 36 inmates and the Loess Hills, wind-blown glacial soils that are only found in western Iowa and China.

Last year Council Bluffs was chosen by Google for one of their server farm locations, creating 200+ high tech jobs in the town. Cheap power, abundant water (for cooling), central location and quality work force were key criteria for the company. Subsequent to making their first announcement, Google purchased an additional 950 acres south of town, indicating to me that there could be major expansion plans for Council Bluffs.

I love touring towns that are on a roll like Council Bluffs.

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