February 1, 2018 by Luann Waldo
Business leaders from the four-county economic development group, Midwest Partnership, reviewed a successful year at the annual meeting of the organization held at the Lake Panorama Conference Center on January 25. Representatives from Greene, Guthrie, Adair and Audubon Counties were apprised of the 2017 activities and made plans for the upcoming year.
Heading the Board of Directors in 2017 were: John Rutledge, president; Norm Fandel, vice president; Cheryl Marks, treasurer, and Laurie Gilbert, secretary. Travis Warnke of Scranton completed his term on the board.
Sarah Gomez, executive director, reported on the activities during the past year. She explained that research shows that people are now choosing where to live and then search for jobs in that area. She highlighted the Greene County Vision 2020 and urged other communities to follow that trend.
Midwest Partnership works to retain local businesses and help them with expansion along with business attraction to the four-county area. Staff attended four trade shows and partnered with Western Iowa Advantage, a larger organization of counties.
Gomez explained a new program, Business Blitz, that visited 130 businesses in the area last year. Plans are to continue this effort in other areas this year. Small business development is important with Entrebash planned in March to assist new businesses in the area.
Of particular interest are the successful examples of: Nutriom in Panora opening 24/7 in March; DICA expansion in Guthrie Center; Waspy’s Truck Stop to open in Audubon this year; new housing development in Stuart along with work on housing developments in Adair and Greenfield. Greene County is continuing to work on the recommendations from Vision 2020.
Two special awards were presented to Adair County residents. Jack E Brown of Greenfield received the Guy Powell Award for leadership and service. Brad and Becky Kramer of Orient were named Entrepreneurs of the Year for their efforts to revitalize downtown Orient. They have opened a cafe and then renovated another building where a machine shop, bar and activity center are located on the lower level with overnight accommodations available on the upper level.
Tony Mills, director of marketing for Karl Chevrolet, was the guest speaker. He shared the Karl Chevrolet philosophy: “If you do right by the customer, they’ll be back.” The business has a 32-acre dealership in Ankeny and has expanded to Stuart. This year is the 40th anniversary of Karl Chevrolet and the Karl brand.
The move to Stuart was made because the firm felt the area was under served. They are planning an expansion there and want to provide larger and more inventory, both new and used, with an expectation to add 30 to 50 jobs. Customer service is important as evidenced by their motto: “Dealer for Life.”
Officers in 2018 are: Fandel, president, Scott Tonderum, vice president; Laurie Gilbert, treasurer, and Jerry Sullivan, secretary. Members of the Board are, Greene County: Fandel, Rick Morain, Sid Jones, Nick Sorensen and Scott Weber; Guthrie County: Rutledge, Mike Underwood, Sullivan, Doug Burns, Everett Grasty and Marty Doud; Audubon County: Brett Irlmeier, Jason Hocker, Gilbert, Peggy Toft, Todd Nelsen and Troy Wessel; Adair County: Matt Wedemeyer, Marks, Tonderum, Stacie Hull and Warren Varley.
Courtesy of Luann Waldo, The News Gazette and Scranton Journal.