It's kind of like the concept of a crowded food court, Barajas agreed. The whole family knows that with a trip to the food court, everyone in the group can get something they want — even if they're not exactly certain what they want until they get there. And when the choices increase, the kiosks and restaurants don't see a new food stand as competition — they see a new place that will draw even more customers to the area.
As important, or maybe even more important, Barajas said, is supporting local businesses. While it may not seem as exciting, development officials say, it's the expansion of already-existing companies that creates jobs. Orscheln Farm and Home expanded recently, building a larger facility, he said.
Officials wouldn't comment on rumors that another restaurant might open in Ottumwa. The OEDC employees said they sign confidentiality agreements with businesses and believe it's extremely important to show those businesses and others that people here are trustworthy and reliable. It also avoids getting the public's hope up when a decision hasn't been made.
"In a way, that makes it more exciting when we do make an announcement," Barajas said.
He said ED officials will continue taking business people on site visits and showing them what Ottumwa has to offer.
"Industrial manufacturing opportunities are really our main focus," Barajas said. "Those jobs tell retailers there's more disposable income in the area."
— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.