Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT — After two and a half years of college and a bachelor’s degree, Cole Smith didn’t know what he wanted to do, he spent six months doing some soul searching before he landed on a job where he can help people in ways that he knows how.
Cole Smith is the executive director of Louisa County Development Group where he gets to work on a spectrum of issues including county infrastructure, business technical assistance, community development, and other local needs in Louisa County.
A Mt. Pleasant High School graduate and former intern at the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce, Smith says his time in Mt. Pleasant aided him in his search for a meaningful job but also helped him in his position now.
“It was a really good opportunity. I attribute a lot of my successes to the people and experiences in Mt. Pleasant.” Smith said. “My current position with LDG is similar to my internship with MPACC, except I now have more responsibilities. Kristi Perry has been an excellent resource as I’ve started my career.”
One of the larger projects Smith is working on currently is a water project to provide higher quality water to most of Louisa County. The plan is to connect the Muscatine water supply to the Louisa County water supply to increase the water quality in the area as well as ease the potential future financial burden of running an independent water treatment facility on the small local communities. This plan will hopefully lead to greater economic development in the area in the years to come.
“We’re kind of centralizing our water system because it’s expensive to run your own water treatment plant, but if you can get cheaper, better quality water it works for everyone,” Smith said.
Smith has other major projects like planning the Highway 61 bypass development near Wapello, establishing broadband fiber-optic internet around the county, teaching citizenship classes and assisting small businesses with technical business aspects.
“I visit with small business to work on whatever challenges they may face,” Smith said.
In his job, Smith see’s himself as a facilitator, bringing everyone who needs to be at the table together and connecting them with grants to fund the projects.
“I just serve the community, whatever needs there are I get to work on,” Smith said. “I’m putting people and resources together, I’m doing economic and community development, but I like to think I’m more of a facilitator because at the end of the day the people that end up at the table are the one’s that are doing a lot of it.”
Smith said that his first two months of working in Louisa County have been mostly filled with learning and listening. He mentioned that he has had to stay humble and remember, “I don’t know everything”
Smith enjoys his work.
“It’s a very rewarding job because everything you do can be traced to how you’ve improved someone’s life. So I really do enjoy that,” he said. “No matter what I am doing I am making a difference and at the end of the day helping people is what’s important to me.”