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News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the Entire North Iowa Region editorial: Chamberís newsletter a cheap shot at a struggling Mason City

In its November newsletter, Mason City Chamber of Commerce members declare Mason City an “acrimonious local environment” and say they are having trouble “finding quality workers”.|The Mason City Chamber of Commerce published its November 2010 Newsletter to its website earlier this month. It is literally free to download and view by anyone in the world. I have some thoughts on what they had to say.

On the very first page of the newsletter, the Mason City Chamber of Commerce chose to share the following words about Mason City:

  • “Acrimonious local environment”
  • “Our City Council is a joke”
  • “The importance of community harmony is not understood ñ especially among local elected officials”

    The newsletter says that these phrases are answers to questions posed to Chamber members in a survey. “We asked chamber members to respond to an extensive survey on the issues that impact local business. We received nearly 200 responses.” wasn’t allowed to see the survey questions. But no matter what questions were posed, the answers the Chamber shared are very specific. The Chamber calls the answers “Common responses.” Just how many of the nearly 200 responses to survey questions used the words “joke” or “acrimonious?” Are Chambers members really this negative about Mason City?

    Reading the Chamber’s survey results, it seems littered with jabs at our local elected officials and Mason City itself, while promoting the importance of the Chamber.

    One bold headline in the newsletter states: “Common responses to ‘What is the single biggest obstacle to operating a successful business in North Iowa?’” The very first answer in the list is “Finding quality workers.”

    Living in Mason City, I can tell you there are some highly skilled, hard-working people here begging for jobs. I do not consider the average out-of-work person in Mason City to be an “obstacle” and I’m willing to bet these people don’t think of themselves that way either.

    It’s no secret that Mason City is suffering through a tough recession. It’s also not a secret that Mason City’s local government sometimes makes a spectacle of itself. Every community has its issues and problems. Mason City is not perfect, but what town is?

    What would possess a Chamber of Commerce (or any organization whose goal is to grow a town and bring in new business and jobs) to share such statements with the entire world is hard to imagine. They might say I’m taking it all out of context. Well, the context is beside the point. Simply making these statements as an organization that is supposed to champion the betterment of our community smacks of unprofessionalism and frankly just seemed cruel.

    The Mason City Chamber of Commerce claims its overall mission is to “promote economic and community development to enhance quality of life in our warm and welcoming community.” On this occasion, the Chamber strayed from that mission, badly. will be doing a follow-up story later in the week covering reactions to the newsletter from Mason City elected officials and citizens. We have emails and phone messages out to the Chamber leaders Robin Anderson and John Michel, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer, and all six City Council members. We hope to have reactions and explanations for our readers at that time.

    Finally, since the Chamber passes surveys around, I have one for our readers. Please respond in the story comment section to these questions:

    ï Do you find Mason City to be an “acrimonious local environment?”
    ï If you are “a worker” in the Mason City area, do you consider yourself an “obstacle?”
    ï Was it necessary for the Chamber to publish the results of their survey, if the results were this negative?
    ï What do you think a business that is thinking of relocating to Mason City will think after reading the survey results?

    Read the Chamber’s November newsletter, here.

    Matthew E. Marquardt
    Publisher of|

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