Rain forest can benefit our area

Thomas A. Jepson

Iowa City Press-Citizen

August 11, 2004

In trying to increase economic activity and enhance our quality of life, we should look beyond riverboat casinos and remodeled minor league baseball parks ("Finding my niche: How rain forest project is relevant," July 30). The Iowa Environmental/Education Project is deserving of our support for many reasons.

As we hear our legislators bemoan the lack of revenue to support the various needs of our communities and the need to provide an environment to attract young people, we continue to offer the same alternatives that have brought us to this position. Our state ranks at or near the bottom in most economic and growth categories. We lament that other states have natural wonders to attract visitors, yet we are so adverse to risk that when we have an opportunity we are unwilling to take the next step.

A rain forest in Iowa is certainly not as daunting as the thought of an amusement park in the middle of a Florida swamp. Are there risks involved? Most certainly, but there are also risks involved if we continue to stay the same course we have up to this point. Much like the trees of the rain forest, our state must continue to grow or we will wither away.

Those who envisioned this project brought in the highest quality consultants, with experience in similar projects. Endless hours of researching have been spent to ensure a viable project.

Does that mean that the risks have been eliminated? No. Does it mean that the project should not go forward until all risk is mitigated? No. It simply means that an analytical and thoughtful approach has been taken to bring the project to this point and now we need to take the next step.

Thomas A. Jepson
CEO, Freedom Security Bank