Blueprint America: Dubuque’s Move From Gambling to Green Lab

BY Tom LeGro  June 17, 2010 at 5:09 PM EST

The Blueprint America series on infrastructure — a collaboration with WNET — has taken us to several places around the country over the last several months: Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit to name a few. On Thursday’s NewsHour, special correspondent Miles O’Brien will add Dubuque, Iowa, to that list in a report on the city’s attempts to go “green.”

Dubuque is a factory town of 60,000 people that wants to become one of the nation’s most sustainable cities. O’Brien’s latest report examines how this Iowa city defied the classic “rust belt’ storyline by remaking the downtown infrastructure, aiming for sustainability and attracting such business giants as IBM to move to town.

In a web-only excerpt, historian and director of the National Mississippi River Museum Jerry Enzler explains that people were leaving town so quickly during the recession in the 1980s that people joked about t-shirts with the slogan, “Will the last person out of Dubuque please turn off the lights?”

Then dog racing and casinos came to town and the city started to make some changes using the revenues. Enzler shares what followed:

You can check out the full Blueprint America website for more on the series or watch some of the reports that have appeared on the NewsHour, including a five-part series reported by Ray Suarez.

Funding for Blueprint America is provided by the The Rockefeller Foundation.