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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

DICKINSON, Richard E. (Rick)

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

DICKINSON, Richard E. (Rick). (Sabula, IA--- ). A graduate of William Penn College with a degree in business and history, Dickinson became the president and chief executive officer of the GREATER DUBUQUE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION in June 1, 1995. In 2007 his duties were divided with the addition of Michael BLOUIN who assumed the title of president of the organization. (1)

Upon Blouin's retirement in 2012, Dickinson resumed the roles of president and CEO. Prior to this appointment, Dickinson worked as a manufacturer sales representative for four months; salesman for Borden Chemical of Columbus, Ohio for five years and marketing manager for Franklin International of Columbus, Ohio for two and one-half years. Dickinson was an adult probation parole officer for five years for the Seventh Judicial District covering Clinton and Jackson County. (2)

Dickinson's career included years of public service. He served as a city council member before being elected to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors for six years. He served as the mayor of Sabula, Iowa from 1978 to 1992. Still a councilman in April, 2010, he was re-appointed mayor to fill the vacated position until the general election in November when he had no plans to seek re-election. (3) From 1990 to 1994, Dickinson served in the Iowa Legislature as the representative for the 34th House District. (4) Dickinson has also served as president of the DUBUQUE RACING ASSOCIATION.

Dickinson, Mayor Terry DUGGAN, and City Manager Michael VAN MILLIGEN working in close cooperation have been credited with being the leaders who brought Dubuque out of economic despair into becoming a shining example of city growth and prosperity. The first issue was the complex sale of FDL FOODS INC. to FARMLAND FOODS INC. (5) All three believed that city government had an important role in creating opportunities for private-sector investment. (6) Public-private partnerships encouraged government and business to work together to solve problems to everyone's benefit. Dubuque Initiatives, a quasi-public group, included as members city employees, city manager, elected officials and leaders of area nonprofits and the private sector.

Under Dickinson, GDDC developed six pillars of focus: business retention and expansion, workforce solutions, national marketing, Startup Dubuque, sustainable innovations and Dubuque's True North. (7)

Through projects including the ICE HARBOR renovation, development of the NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM, Grand River Center, Lower Main Street, Dubuque Industrial Center West, Historic Millwork District, BEE BRANCH restoration and the attraction of such industries as IBM the employment levels of Dubuque County rose from 33,000 in the 1980s to an estimated 55,000 in 2011. (8)

INDUSTRIAL PARKS have played a major role in Dubuque's growth. In 1995 an outside analyst was hired to examine the Dubuque County Metropolitan Statistical Area. The recommendation was to develop industrial property because without it there was no need for a development group. DUBUQUE INDUSTRIAL CENTER was the first park developed with the first building constructed in 2001. Construction of the DUBUQUE INDUSTRIAL CENTER SOUTH and DUBUQUE INDUSTRIAL CENTER WEST followed. (9)

In 2018 Dickinson and the GDDC reminded the community of the organization's "Dubuque True North" initiative to revitalize Dubuque's North End. The project began with collecting data to understand those who lived in the area and their perceptions of the neighborhood. In 2018 the organization began the conversion of slums and blight area into affordable single-family homes. (10) In 2019 he announced that GDCC would begin a pilot program that would provide child are at no cost to a limited number of residents participating in a job-training program. (11)




1. Kittle, M. D., "Blouin Gets Nod for Greater Dubuque Post," Telegraph Herald, January 11, 2007, p. 1

2. "Dickinson: Education a Priority," Telegraph Herald, June 1, 1990, p. 3

3. "Rick Dickinson Appointed Mayor," Telegraph Herald, April 30, 2010, p. 5

4. "Dickinson: Education..."

5. Bergstrom, Kathy, "The Art of the Deal," Telegraph Herald, April 14, 1996, p. 1

6. Piper, Andy and Schmidt, Eileen Mozinski, "'The Common Good,'" Telegraph Herald, February 20, 2011, p. 1

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. "The Development of Dubuque's Industrial Parks," bizTimes,biz, July 2017, p. 8

10. Montgomery, Jeff, "'Bold' Move Puts North End in Spotlight," Telegraph Herald, July 20, 2018, p. 1

11. Kruse, John, "Council to Weigh $80,000 for Child Care," Telegraph Herald, January 20, 2019, p. 13