Five Questions With MRHD Executive Director David Gleiser

SIOUX CITY — David Gleiser, the former Woodbury County community and economic development director, stepped into a new job this spring as the executive director of Missouri River Historical Development (MRHD). 

Gleiser brought with him years of experience in economic development, public policy and community betterment to MRHD, the nonprofit entity which holds the state license for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City. A portion of the Hard Rock’s proceeds are given to MRHD, which then distributes those funds to local charities, organizations and local governmental entities. 

The Journal spoke with Gleiser recently about his work at MRHD and the direction of the organization itself. 

Answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

David Gleiser, the new executive director of Missouri River Historic Development (MRHD), is shown outside of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in d…

Have there been any surprises for you as the head of MRHD since you stepped into the job? 

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To be honest with you, the biggest surprise to me has been, I guess I would say probably the amount of work and time that the MRHD Board of Directors actually put in to support and lead the organization. And how intentional they are in their decision-making process, to really make sure that the dollars are being distributed how they’re distributed, and that they support projects that have a positive impact in our county. 

That, to me, was kind of a big surprise. It’s a very hands-on group, and the amount of work that they take on is sort of, like, elected official-level, I feel like. 

Outside of that, I would add that prior to working for MRHD, I really was unaware of how much Hard Rock supports nonprofits in the community, outside of the dollars that they provide to MRHD. I’ve learned that they’re really a great corporate citizen, and I’ve found that they’re really good people to work with. 

What are some challenges facing the entities in Woodbury County that MRHD helps to fund? 

What I’ve seen, what I’ve learned, is that there have been a lot of supply-chain issues since COVID, which have cause project delays. And I think that inflation and just the rising costs of goods and services, have been a big impact. That’s a big challenge that all these organizations are facing. And funding — you know, the scarcity of funds. It seems like they’re always looking for money, and doing fundraising efforts and those sorts of things. 

To me, that sort of seems like the common theme of most organizations that MRHD has been making grants to over the last few years. Or at least since I’ve been here. 

Over the years MRHD has handed out millions of dollars to various causes in Woodbury County. What would the county look like if there were no MRHD? 

I believe that MRHD fills the gap, financially fills the gap, for many organizations and sectors throughout the county. I think without MRHD, probably there’d be a lot less support for our rural communities. There’d be a lot less support for collaboration with local governments. And, you know, there’d be a lot less support for churches and youth-serving agencies and other nonprofits, throughout the county. 

Which, I think all of those organizations contribute to a level of quality of life. And I think without MRHD, there would just be a lot less support for, like I said, our rural towns, our rural cities. We wouldn’t be able to have projects come together like the Expo Center. And, you know, there would be a lot of organizations that wouldn’t have the ability to serve segments of our communities without that financial support. 

MRHD has been in existence for 34 years now – what do the next 34 years look like?

I really feel like, right now, it’s in a growth mode. And I believe that momentum is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. 

And I say that because, I see the gaming industry has seen a lot of growth. Not just within our region, but nationally. And, I think that with technology and things like e-gaming and being able to place bets online — I just feel like there’s a lot of growth within the gaming industry, and so I believe that that’s going to support MRHD’s continued growth. And I hope that MRHD, over the next 34 years, will have an increased presence, and involvement in, supporting initiatives and projects that, you know, continue to support or improve the quality of life for our county residents and, you know, our surrounding area. 

What’s the most impactful or exciting thing MRHD has awarded a grant for in the last year or so? 

That’s so hard, I don’t know how to compare the impact of the work of something like, the Child Advocacy Center — which is a small organization, but does some very, very important work. That’s a very impactful organization, it’s very impactful work. 

I don’t know how to say this but — I felt like, the Economic Development Grant, MRHD has a fairly new grant program, it’s called the Economic Development Match Grant, and personally, that’s an exciting program for me, with my background in economic development. But I think there’s been a lot of exciting projects that that grant has supported, like the Expo Center, and like the improvements to the riverfront. 

And it was really nice to be able to showcase all those improvements, down at Chris Larsen Park, along our riverfront, during RAGBRAI this summer. And the Economic Development Match Grant is supporting these sort of larger-scale projects. And I just feel like that’s very exciting, not just because they’re large-scale, but because they are very impactful. A lot of these projects have a great impact on quality of life, many of them have job-creation components. 

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Jesse Brothers

Originally Appeared Here

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