The college hired Neil MacArthur, a retired businessman who moved to Centerville to be near his daughter and her family. The position started in September 2012.
MacArthur said the grant covers the three most economically challenged counties in IHCC’s region, an area he is enjoying getting to know.
“These are all interesting and beautiful places,” he said. “I am so impressed and so much in love with this country since we moved to Iowa, and I really hope I can in some small way make a contribution to sustaining it and growing it.”
MacArthur recently was involved with the transfer of Mitchell’s Floor Covering in Centerville to new owners, Scott and Kelly Jackson, when Ron Mitchell decided to retire. It is now Jackson Home Center and is expanding to include home furnishing.
“That extends that business in Centerville, keeps that storefront occupied and provides good solid economic continuation,” MacArthur said.
MacArthur, who taught high school in Texas after retiring from the business world, said one of his favorite things about this job is working with high school juniors across the 10-county region. Three juniors from each school district met once a month this past school year to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
The goal is retention, giving young people a boost to becoming leaders in this area and pursuing careers here. The program also gives high schoolers contacts with their peers across the region.
“If you talk to kids in junior high, they have no thought of leaving,” MacArthur said. “They love it here; they think they are going to be here. When they are juniors or seniors they think, ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen around here,’ so they end up going to school and then going to Des Moines or Chicago or far, far away. That’s a cycle we’ve got to understand and see what we can do to break it.”