Sioux City, IA: Relationship Building Leads to Improved Quality of Life
Paul Eckert began building relationships almost immediately after being appointed manager of Sioux City. One of the many groups that he joined was the local Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee. Before long, the city was an important part of the Chamber’s legislative lobbying efforts and had its own unique campaign to focus on city issues.
Through the committee, Eckert initiated a special state legislative day each year and invited neighboring city officials and state legislators to come together to discuss concerns and ideas before the next legislative session. Sioux City reaped the rewards from these state and federal legislative efforts, including funding for a key transportation route, police officers and training, a wastewater treatment plant, redevelopment funding, and the Targeted Jobs Withholding Tax Credit Program.
Soon after being appointed city manager, Eckert initiated quarterly meetings with all neighborhood groups to discuss issues they were facing. Key city staff members then followed up by attending each neighborhood meeting to discuss the issues. The lines of communication were opened and real solutions began to be implemented. For example, fewer cars were abandoned on the street, residents were being educated about graffiti and how to deal with it, and barking dogs were dealt with more efficiently. Eckert has been described by some neighborhood network volunteers as the best city manager they have ever had.
Relationship building is critical for a successful professional local government manager. Understanding the impact of regional issues on a community, engaging community interest groups, working with other legislative or jurisdictional bodies are all essential to paving the way for future success. By building positive working relationships with nearby city officials, state and federal legislators, and local neighborhood groups, Paul Eckert has made a difference for his community.