Now is the time for patience

The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.

–Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s quote came to mind recently as Vermillion marked yet another joyous milestone.

It has been a productive year in the city. The community has already dedicated a new city hall. It has watched as a beautiful new student center on The University of South Dakota campus has been completed and dedicated.

Citizens have kept busy dodging major construction projects on Cherry Street, including the now-completed new Casey’s gas station and convenience store, a beautiful new home for the Vermillion Federal Credit Union, and a new Hallmark Square mall that has already attracted a new business here.

The second phase of improvements to Cherry Street itself has been going on since this spring.

There are improvements happening downtown, too, including the renovation of a long-unoccupied bank building on the corner of Court and Main Streets. Work is also progressing on two downtown streetscape improvements.

With all of this in mind, it was easy to feel upbeat Tuesday when Vermillion Now! announced that it had surpassed its $1.5 fundraising goal.

A committee made up of approximately 20 people settled on several main goals for the capital campaign, including new business recruitment and expansion, marketing, workforce development and entrepreneurial development.

The capital campaign was launched in January after an analysis of the Vermillion community by the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company (VCDC) board demonstrated that the community needed funding to stimulate further economic development.

The VCDC’s study uncovered some disturbing trends. In comparison to a number of other communities, such as Watertown, Madison, Brookings and Yankton, Vermillion has much lower wages, the study revealed.

 Vermillion also has significantly higher poverty rates  – somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent higher compared to similar communities.

The VCDC also determined that from a population growth standpoint, there’s been slower overall growth in Vermillion during the past 15 years when compared to other major communities in South Dakota. Historically, there’s been very little population growth in the community in the past century.

The low wages, high poverty and slow growth are likely linked to the types of employment opportunities offered in Vermillion.

Facing challenges that seem rather daunting in nature is hardly new to the Vermillion community. We live in a city whose citizens have been severely tested, and have persevered.

We have watched our economy flounder in the past year, spiraling down in one of the worst recessions this nation has seen. That hasn’t stopped Vermillion cold in its tracks.

As Huxley notes, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.

We may all be tempted, in this age we live in where instant gratification seems to be the norm, to see things happen immediately since Vermillion Now! has reached its milestone.

Anyone who is familiar with economic development knows that even in the best of times, trying to land new businesses and industry can certainly test one’s patience.

It’s a process that doesn’t come easily. It will demand that we all be patient.

It is time for us to look back at our past. Over a century ago, when the Missouri River went wild and more or less destroyed our community when it was located below the bluff, townsfolks’ diligence was surely tested.

In that day and age where no government-backed safety nets existed, it would have been easy to throw up one’s hands and simply give up on this community.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. Townsfolk from that era salvaged what they could, and decided to rebuild on top of the bluff, laying the foundation for the beautiful community we live in today.

Patience is defined as having the capacity to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming angry or upset.

It’s certainly a trait that served Vermillion’s early settlers well.

As we enter a new age where it seems nothing changes and yet everything is completely different, we would do well to practice a bit of patience, too.


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