Last month, staff with the state of Iowa’s Department of Cultural Affairs was in town shooting a video to showcase the newly renovated Warrior Hotel. They asked a group of city staff, community members, and two members of the City Council to gather virtually and present on the progress being made in our community. I welcomed the opportunity to present on behalf of the City Council. In doing so, I was so inspired and excited about the progress our city had made in 2020, even in the midst of a pandemic.
For the majority of the year, I was focused on loss and sacrifice; however, for this brief presentation, I was inspired by what we had accomplished and once again looking forward to our future. In this magazine, you’re going to read about strength, so I want to share some of those accomplishments in hopes that they inspire you to think of what is on the horizon and how you can be a champion of our community’s strength.
Companies expanded and invested in Siouxland. Sabre Industries announced its plans for a $25 million expansion to include a galvanizing plant and 76 additional jobs. Standard Ready Mix built a new concrete plant for $7.6 million. CNOS opened a new Sunnybrook location, and Meridian Clinical Research relocated and expanded operations into Sioux City.
We saw the opening of multiple hotel projects including the Warrior Hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott connected to the newly renovated convention center, and most recently, the Avid Hotel in Virginia Square. Numerous apartment complexes have started construction, are under contract, or recently opened, in addition to a record number of homes being constructed.
Phase 1 of the riverfront redevelopment began, the Expo Center opened, eight pickleball courts were added to Riverside Park, and multiple trails were constructed or connected to ensure you will be able to stay active in 2021 and beyond.
In addition, Sioux City Gateway Airport secured a direct flight to Denver, I-29 WAS FINISHED, and the city completed an $11 million renewable fuels project that compresses gas into a renewable fuel that is set to generate approximately $5 million for the city annually.
I understand that there are certain things that we need to improve and continue to work on, but I’ve noticed that we as a community don’t talk about our successes nearly much as our shortcomings. Whether it is the journal or social media, it seems that when it comes to our community, we are often the most critical of ourselves.
For example, I have heard the common claim that all we are building is hotels and car washes. However, when you look at it from a different perspective, the city does little, if anything, to recruit these businesses. Did you know that Silverstar Car Wash has invested more than $5 million throughout our community at their new locations? Our hotels are nearly at capacity for the weekend of February 20, when the Expo Center will host a 150-team volleyball tournament with The Arena Sports Academy, who will also be hosting a basketball tournament at their own facility.
My point is this, if we want to continue experiencing growth, investment, and be the community that we hope to be, we need to start being a cheerleader and a positive voice for our community. If something is bothering you, please shoot me an email and allow me an opportunity to look into it. And the next time you’re feeling critical or negative about our city, and this goes for me as well, I hope we can reflect on all we have accomplished in 2020, a year of unforeseen challenges and innovation.
Alex Watters, City Council of Sioux City