The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

December 9, 2013

New home for SIEDA

OTTUMWA — Most people getting services at the Southern Iowa Economic Development Agency's newly renovated Community Action building won't have far to go from the current SIEDA location.

"It's just one building over," said Brian Dunn, executive director of the agency, which oversees such diverse programs as heating assistance for those in poverty to the Head Start program for early childhood learning.

That close proximity wasn't a requirement of the move, but it is nice, Dunn said. The SIEDA board has spent the last couple of years seeking a new place that would be a wise investment, have a lot of parking and provide a good work environment. The answer to their quest is at 310 West Main St., the former Iowa Workforce center, which many residents call "the old unemployment office" downtown.

Dunn and several staff members were at the new office on Monday, carrying in office furniture.

"Buying this building will allow us to invest more money in programs, rather than in overhead," Dunn said.

SIEDA leadership has decided that three out of four programs will be housed at the new 310 W. Main St. building while Behavioral Health and Treatment services will remain at the old 226 W. Main St. location. Head Start Preschool will remain at their current locations.

They're calling it the new Wapello Resource Center. That's the place for Child Development office workers, Family Support Services and Housing Stabilization.

As a nonprofit agency, there are restrictions about purchasing property. But even with those rules in place, it was still more economical for SIEDA to buy their own place as opposed to renting. That's both in the long term, and in the short term: Paying a mortgage will cost less than renting so much downtown space. While decisions have to be made by the people with boots on the ground at the time, Dunn said he's aware that if the agency had purchased a building years ago, they'd own it now.

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