Private-sector actors are reshaping the center of some cities in ways local governments no longer have the ability to do themselves. (Photos by David Kidd)
IBM is housed in a former department store, one of four old stores in downtown Dubuque, Iowa, that now are filled with white-collar workers. (Photos by David Kidd)
Tom Coffas is director of the IBM Dubuque Service Delivery Center. "They don't have to say, 'This is stuff we can do, we think we can support you.' Instead, it's, 'We have IBM and we've shown we can accommodate you.'"
IBM manager Leah Eichhorn: "We have great potential to keep people here, rather than running to Phoenix."
Mayor Ralph Buol: "When you see the list of places competing for that IBM IT center, you would have never thought Dubuque had a chance."
Former residents are coming back. Allison Mitchell recently returned to Dubuque after living in Los Angeles for three years.
Before finding success with IBM, Dubuque tried every economic development trick in the book, including casinos, a pedestrian mall and a riverfront convention center.
The city has been able to preserve many handsome old brick and masonry buildings that are now being repurposed.
The new IBM service center has spurred development like the Millwork District, a 17-block conglomeration of former industrial buildings that are being converted to condos, office space and art galleries.
Dan McDonald of Greater Dubuque Development Corp.: “There really is no secret sauce. We decided to try harder to diversify our economy.”
The former industrial sites in the Millwork District are undergoing a transformation and repurposing.
Structural details of the Millwork District buildings are left exposed in the offices of Greater Dubuque Development Corp.
Architect Emily McCready recently moved back to Dubuque to set up an office for her Tulsa-based firm. “IBM coming into the city was a huge confidence boost for people.”