He has also been working on broadband fiber optic and laser optic cluster initiatives, which will help Ottumwa be more connected and bring new businesses to the area. With help from the strong fiber optic and robotics programs at Indian Hills Community College, future leaders are being trained here that should entice new businesses to the area, Barajas says, and the broadband fiber optic initiatives provide the community with new infrastructure to help support growth.
“We have the skills here and the workforce,” he said. “We are saying to those companies, ‘Come here.’ That can be something very productive and important as we look into the future.”
Although he is leaving some of these projects unfinished, Barajas knows he is leaving them in good hands, and the community will continue moving forward.
“Those projects are moving along in a very positive fashion,” he said. “I’m confident that the different people here working on the projects will do well and continue to move them forward. Ottumwa has a lot of great opportunities. I truly believe that Ottumwa really has its best days ahead.”
Even though he is leaving, Barajas said he is excited to hopefully work with his colleagues in Ottumwa further to enhance the true regional economic development of the area. Marshalltown is still relatively close, so working together to form a more regional partnership is certainly not out of the question.
“We are still going to be in close proximity from a regionalism standpoint,” Barajas said. “I truly believe, as we move forward, there will be opportunities for myself and my colleagues here and in Marshalltown to be able to work together on some initiatives. I’m excited about that.”
In regards to the position that Barajas is leaving, the process is under way to find a replacement, according to Steve Black, Chairman of the OEDC Board of Directors. After Barajas makes the transition to his new position at the end of the year, Megan Framke, OEDC Initiative Manager, will step in as a part-time solution. Black said last time they had to fill the position it took four or five months, so a new director probably won’t be named for a little while.
“I hate to see David [Barajas] leave because he is not only a friend, but a neighbor,” Black said. “But I think this is a good opportunity for him. We are lucky in that we have Megan [Framke], who has agreed to fill in for the part time.”
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh