What Is Your Vision For Yankton?

What is your vision for Yankton?

I was recently reading about Dubuque, Iowa, which is considerably larger than Yankton but offers us a good example of how to develop a community vision.

Dubuque Iowa

A photo of Dubuque, Iowa.


In 2005, the Dubuque mayor stated, “The next five years will define the next 50 for Dubuque.” This kicked off a massive visioning process for the community that sought big ideas with broad acceptance that would have a long-term, positive impact on the growth and quality of life of the greater Dubuque community.

Read more about that process here.

I think Yankton needs to do the same thing.

We all need to come together, invest our talents and create a cohesive community vision for the long-term future.

We need to think big.

When I talk to people in the community, I sense a hunger to do big things because of a belief in the potential of Yankton to be more than it is right now.

Look at the small European island of Guernsey. A group there has set the goal of making it the best place to live in the world by 2020. Yes, you read that right.

It might sound crazy, but it’s also really inspiring. Similarly, we need to have the confidence to set big goals for Yankton. If we don’t believe in ourselves, no one else will, either.

Included in my personal vision of Yankton would be downtown and riverfront development; more public art, architecture, trails and other quality of life improvements; higher wages; and a community-wide focus on health and happiness that would have buy-in from all community members.

I don’t want to be a community where people ask, “Why don’t we have that?” I want to be a community where people ask, “How in the world did we get that?”

Let’s use the next five years to define the next 50 for Yankton and make ourselves and future residents proud.

Have ideas? Let’s talk about them on the Nathan For Yankton Facebook page.

One thought on “What Is Your Vision For Yankton?

  1. There needs to be an investment in Downtown rather than worrying about the Highway 50 Highway 81 corner area. People come to Menards and Walmart whether we push more money into that corner or not. How do we get them to come to our downtown though? We advertise our downtown as “Historic Downtown”. What is historic about it? It’s old? Great…how do we capitalize on that? Are there walking tours explaining the historic significance of buildings? Is there even any significance? In my opinion the downtown needs to be re-branded. We don’t do anything with the history of the downtown so why base our advertising around that. “Downtown Yankton Gateway to the future” perhaps? “Downtown Yankton Bridging Generations” perhaps? I don’t know but whatever branding happens there needs to be a cohesive vision that can be rallied behind and used to promote the downtown.

    We attract thousands of visitors to the lake area every weekend of the summer. What are we doing to bring them to downtown? How are we attracting them?

    When Donelle and I moved here 11 years ago nearly every downtown business was full. There were unique gift shops, people shopped downtown. We took pride in taking our out of town visitors to the unique shops. Now there are more papered up it seems than thriving (outside our bar business). We have retail spaces turned into apartments. The number of businesses closing far exceeds those opening.

    It may not be the cities job to create business, but it is in the cities best interest to recruit, inspire and seed businesses. Look at what downtown Sioux Falls is doing to lure in new and unique businesses by seeding them, taking care of utilities and rent while the business gets established. Look at what Brookings has done (and for those who think that is because of the College they have not been to Brookings because outside of the bars there is not a business Downtown Brookings that caters to SDSU students. The business leaders sold the community on a tax increase to improve the downtown knowing that a vibrant downtown benefits the entire community. Mitchell has passed us for retail expansion and listen people that has NOTHING to do with the interstate because of decades the interstate has been there and all Mitchell had was a giant bird feeder in the center of it’s town and bad tap water. They choose to aggressively develop areas and spend. Vermillion has passed us for dining options and that wasn’t the case a decade ago when I moved here. In fact it wasn’t even close.

    In my 11 years in Yankton if I was to describe the town with one word it would be stagnant. I hate that when I think of this town that my wife and choose to move to and raise a family in creates that image in my mind, but I cannot think of a more fitting word. The city needs to be daring and proactive rather than stagnant and reactive. Another word would be divided. When we moved here there was the fight over the pool…which still hasn’t been built while towns of 1200-2000 build beautiful family friendly water parks on tax roles a quarter of ours. A recall election happened that seemed split main street right down the middle on one side of the road or the other. The school opt-out happened. The kibitzers stirred fear, propaganda from both sides got completely out of hand and I don’t know that those wounds will ever heal for too many people. The rest of the state has been watching too. They see what is happening. Yanktons battles are broadcast on social media across the state, when we say no to so much why would a young family looking for opportunity re-locate here when so many other towns are saying yes.

    Yankton is becoming a city of low wage jobs, pizza chains and bars. We need to be more. We should be more. We can be more. We must be more. We must listen to those that have taken chances and succeeded, we must cater to the young and entice them to move here and stay here. We do that by not ignoring the needs and wants of our fixed income elderly population but embracing them and working with them.

    Thank you Nathan for being bold enough to stand tall and take a leadership role and thank you for providing a forum to speak and vent and share. I hope the best for you my friend.

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