Monday, November 01, 2010

60 MInutes in Newton

60 Minutes--Maybe Newton can finally catch a break. Last night, CBS' "60 Minutes" did a nearly 20-minute story on the plight of the town. The tears flowed throughout the entire piece from people you wouldn't have expected...A Domino's Pizza owner who is working 85 hours a week because he can't afford to hire workers. I mean who would have thought things are so bad, people can't afford pizzas? Another couple can no longer pay for the daughter's college education. Some neighbors just appealed for help for their town. Mayor Chaz Allen also had to tell his story...watching his town suffer and then losing his job himself.

Here's the hope... Allen told me he has received "hundreds of emails and phone calls" at home and the mayor's office right after the story aired. Some offer personal help for him and his family. Others want to help people featured in the story. Still others have business possibilities. But here's the biggest name of the bunch: Donald Trump. Yes, the Donald. Allen told me he had a message from a man who said he worked for Trump. When Allen called him back, the man asked if he could hold on the phone for a bit so that Trump could get on the phone. Allen joked to me, "I don't have a job right now. I can hold all day if it will help!" Allen said they talked for 10 or 15 minutes.

Allen said, at least so far, there's nothing concrete to report on Trump's conversation. Perhaps, it could lead to an opportunity. Allen's hoping to figure out how to take advantage of all this attention for his town, which could really use something positive. Too many people are hurting there right now.


Anonymous said... Vote for Mariannette Miller-Meeks!

Matt Koon said...

I hope that local media would continue to cover this "report" and allow the real story of Newton to come out. Yes there are some things that are not as lush as they may have once been. However there are many hardworking people in this community that don't want a pity party. We need to look forward to what is happening here. We have had several small businesses open up over the last year. Some of which have been opened by former Maytag employees. Mojo bike shop just opened Today. Joe, the shop's owner is a former Maytag employee. Or maybe we could talk about PJ's Deli, who since the exodus of Maytag has purchased the building it's located in, remodeled and moved to a prime location on 1st avenue! A new Tea Room will be opening soon in a remodeled house. Montana Mike's just opened last week. I'm sure one would be hard pressed to find a town that doesn't have a few places either closing or for rent.

60 Minutes took every effort they could to paint the most bleak picture of Newton that they could. They interviewed the owner of PJ's Deli, along with others and chose not to air the "good news". Yes we have not had a great time of things with Maytag leaving, however we are not a dying town, but rather a town on the rebound. Let's see that story on the news.

-Matt K.

Darrell said...

Good word Matt!! 60 Minutes did not even attempt to interview The Newton Chamber of Commerce or Newton Development Corp. We've had our challenges and we'll have more like the rest of the country. Yes, we took a big hit with Maytag, but we are enthusiastically rebounding, and looking for new opportutnites and gaining! Keep your eye on Newton.

Darrell Sarmento
Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce

GrahamLaek said...

I totally agree Matt! However I think that 60 minutes had a story already in mind when they came to Newton, they knew the way they wanted to portray Newton and therefor only told one side of the story for our town. But I'm looking on the bright side because that's what the people of Newton need to continue to do! This could be great for Newton, no we aren't looking for a hand out but we are looking for more business. Let's hope they look at Newton as an opportunity and not a dying town where they can get a cheep rate. Because I agree we aren't dying! We have alot of great things coming. But maybe with this onesided story we can get what we need, help to get Newton back to what it always has been. A great community to live in!

Graham Rose
RE/MAX Real Estate Concepts
The Rose Real Estate Team

Tony said...

Are you serious? You think that 60 Minutes came in with the agendo of doing some kind of a 'hit piece' on Newton? You may be juuuusst a little too close to the situation if your first reaction is to become offended.

The story wasn't meant to be a focus on Newton at all. The story is that Newton is a case study of the recession's impact in a microcosm. Newton just happens to be the 'perfect storm' of everything that's gone wrong economically nation wide. Believe me, I'm no fan of the handout crowd or the blue state big union mentality that pervades most of Newton. I didn't see that portrayed in this piece at all. What I saw was a heartbreaking reality for what was once one of the most dynamic small towns I'd ever seen. I don't know how young you are Matt, but if you think Newton is not a dying town, you're not paying attention. I get no joy from saying that. I watched 60 minutes with tears in my eyes, mourning the little town I grew up in 1000 miles away. Mourning because it was once SO GREAT. The Newton I left 18 years ago after high school is no more. Yes, at it's core it's still a great town but make no mistake, it is not the SAME TOWN.

With it's manufacturing/industrial focus, Newton to me always seemed a little more urban, a little more "with it" than all the small, podunk "Farmvilles" surrounding us. There was always a feeling that Newton was on the go, moving forward and making things happen. That's all gone.

How do we get it back? The start-ups you reference are a great beginning, no question. While it does hearten me to know new small businesses continue to hang their shingle along First Avenue, my enthusiasm is tempered by what I'm afraid will be their ultimate fate. The ultimate reality is that Newton's infrastructure can't be sustained indefinitely by mom-and-pop, owner operated business. And maybe that's ok, let the market run it's course and the new Newton will reach homeostasis in due time. But to insist that everything's fine and "Newton will be back!" without a large employer filling some of the void seems a bit pollyannaish.

Eric said...

I largely concur with Tony. A bike shop and a deli sound great, but that's just a handful of jobs and an economy based on selling bikes and sandwiches to each other is clearly not sustainable.

Maytag manufactured raw materials into useful household products and sold them worldwide for big profits. And they pumped tens of millions of dollars per year into the local economy in the process.

Furthermore, I would not pay much mind to Mr. Trump -- he might be famous, but he is a terrible businessman -- exactly how many times has he gone bankrupt now ??

Personally, I think the best bet is to go high tech, given that Iowans on average are highly literate, intelligent, and hard working people.

- Eric Johnson
Newton High School
Class of 1983