Editor's Note: Editorials are representative of the views of all Editorial Board members. One or two members will compile these views and write an editorial.
Pat yourself on the back! Go ahead, do it. You’ve earned it. As a member of the Ames community you are the beneficiary and also the reason our city is doing so well.
COVID-19 has rocked the economy. Many places and industries still haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels of business. Ames isn’t immune to this kind of economic pain, but it has proven to be remarkably resilient, even expanding and growing in some areas.
Iowa State University and its students have played a big part in supporting the local economy, but it is the cohesion between the city of Ames and the university that have enabled both to weather a difficult storm and emerge possibly in an even better economic state — in some regards.
Perhaps the most exciting new thing in Ames is Iowa State’s brand new Student Innovation Center: a glass masterpiece dedicated to student use. The SIC actually opened last year, but COVID-19 put a lot of red tape around the building's intended uses and long term goals. But it’s open now and full of amazing opportunities for students to innovate right on campus, so go check it out.
A short walk from campus, Reiman Gardens has been making great progress towards its master plan. When driving south on University Boulevard, at the intersection with Mortensen Parkway, you’ll notice the progress made towards the south gardens which will eventually become a beautiful set of pools and waterfalls, all made possible through generous donations and consistent fundraising efforts.
In the heart of Ames, Grand Avenue has been extended from Hyvee south to 16th Street. The new stretch of South Grand cuts through Coldwater Golf Links golf course to connect the most central part of Ames with a busy east/west route on the south end. This new stretch of road also includes an extension of Fifth Street, allowing traffic from the south part of town to easily enter and leave the northern businesses on Duff Avenue.
Speaking of the heart of Ames, Main Street is looking to add a plaza to continue to attract the people of Ames to a variety of shops and restaurants. The first steps of this undertaking are just now beginning, but Ames has already hired an architecture firm to design and build the project. Main Street has made great efforts to stay modern and pander to the needs and wants of all of Ames’s citizens with this plaza being the most recent.
If you took I-35 to get to Ames, you definitely noticed the most annoying improvement that Ames will be the beneficiary of: the repair of both the north and southbound overpass bridges on the interstate. It seems that the I-35 North to Highway 30 West exit ramp was only just completed and the Department of Transportation is back to construction on the very same interchange. That very well may be true, but as citizens of Ames, we should be happy the state counts those bridges as important enough to fix and maintain. That can’t be said for all overpasses in Iowa.
Back closer to campus, Iowa State is very close to completing a new feedmill on Highway 30 and State Avenue that will serve as the Kent Corporation Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex. The mill will serve as a place to conduct research and teach students about the livestock feed industry as Iowa State looks to be a leader in helping to feed the world.
As you can see, Iowa State and Ames are doing very well despite the challenges they have faced in the last year and a half. And with 30,000 students back in town for the fall semester and looking forward to a more normal semester, there is much reason for optimism in central Iowa.
If you’re a lifelong resident of Ames, get out and enjoy all of the new things the city has to offer. If you just moved here or you didn’t get out much last year, go try something new. Enjoy the local restaurants. Visit a museum or park. Go downtown and just stroll around. Ames is a vibrant community full of energetic young college students and eager adults alike.
Life is a matter of circumstances, but it’s also what we make of it. Ames has a lot to offer, so go make the most of it all.