to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site
Rainforest Project Requires Focus
Dubuque Telegraph Herald
December 15, 2005
A proposed project that is the subject of national ridicule and the product of campaign contributions, lobbying and federal "pork" still is entitled to evaluation.
But enthusiasts' "wow!" is no substitute for realistic business plans, no justification for emphasizing benefits while ignoring costs and risks.
Dubuque has done attractions right. Want a review? Click on the Telegraph Herald Online's "Discover Dubuque" and "Attractions." Most are solidly grounded in Dubuque's history and natural setting; realistic in scope and financing. Their synergy adds sparkle to this Iowa gem of a city.
For two years, I've Web-posted a substantial collection of rain forest facts and opinion at www.nicholasjohnson.org. What issues have emerged?
Three "F's" for focus, funding and feasibility.
* Nine years into this project, promoters keep shifting its design, content, mission and name. Tourist attraction? Scientific research? Teacher training?Without focus, there can't be a business plan. Without a business plan, it's impossible to evaluate the feasibility of any project's projected revenue stream.
* Two years, even with Sen. Chuck Grassley's $50 million, promoters can't find another dime of the $180 million.
* If tourist attraction, few believe it can attract the necessary million or more visitors year after year.
I've made such facts as exist available online, as have others. It's Dubuque's decision. Let's make sure it's a well-informed one.