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Jim Walsh is president of JSA, a downtown Waterloo development firm, and board chairman and general counsel for VGM Group Inc.


What drives you? ‘Well, I’m trying to re-establish the center of the community. It’s been neglected, the victim of bad public relations. It’s generally in need of a lot of help, so somebody has to do it. That’s what I’m doing.”

What’s was your biggest accomplishment in 2017?

“I’ve been working on downtown since 2001. It’s 15-plus years of projects, making buildings attractive to tenants and businesses,” he said. Walsh also is board chairman and general counsel for VGM Group Inc., which provides business solutions to more than 25,000 companies across the country in a variety of industries including health care, restaurant, insurance, golf and more. VGM, which employs more than 900 people, is headquartered in Waterloo with offices in Georgia, Kansas, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey and Canada.

What are your goals for 2018?

“We’ve got three or four buildings laid out that are awaiting action from the state to approve for historic tax credits. Tax credits are under attack (at the statehouse) in Des Moines, but they are not all the same,” Walsh said, adding that without historic tax credits some historic buildings that could and should be restored will meet the wrecking ball instead.

What makes the Cedar Valley a great place for business?

“Well, it’s stable. It’s got a quality workforce; it’s not a big enough workforce, but it’s a quality workforce. Except for January and February (weather), why wouldn’t you want to be located here?”

What is a lesson you have learned in your journey?

“Persistence is necessary and city government will always disappoint you. ... A good example is they incent strip malls on the edges of the city and draw tenants away from existing properties. ... Why encourage and incent them?”


Lifestyles and Features Editor

Lifestyles Editor for The Courier

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