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Looking to Excel! – Community improvement plan to buoy Estherville

By Staff | Jan 29, 2008

Excel! Estherville is being touted as a road map to success.

The community-wide strategic plan had its initial unveiling at the annual banquet of the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce/Estherville Industrial Development Corporation on Jan. 21. A second presentation for the general public was held at Iowa Lakes Community College on Jan. 24.

Opening the program, Estherville Mayor Lyle Hevern said, “The community becomes what the community members want it to be and can choose or fail to make it happen.”

He recalled how many community projects (library, hospital, armory/RWC) had a tremendous impact on Estherville and “pushed the community forward in a strong, positive way. This strategic plan is an outgrowth of that.”

Prepared in collaboration with Smart Solutions Groups in West Des Moines, the plan outlines ways to increase the city’s population includes formats for three-year, and 10-year goals.

Bill Bumgarner, administrator at Avera Holy Family Hospital, outlined these goals as:

n Positioning Estherville as an alternative for the Lakes area housing.

n Enhancing the community’s visual attractiveness.

n Supporting community diversity.

n Strengthening business and marketing relationships.

n Helping existing businesses to grow.

n Attracting new businesses.

n Establishing Estherville tourism and recreation destination.

n Enhancing the collaboration with the eastern Emmet County communities.

n Building the local work force.

n Adopting a general beautification program.

n Broadening community entertainment cultural offerings.

n Developing a new promotional identity.

n Promoting Estherville’s successes in the region and state.

“This is a good community to visit and a good community in which to live,” he said. “We need to do a better job in getting information about our successes to the different media entities.”

Both men stated how the plan needs strong organization and emphasized the need for volunteers as leaders and committee members.

“We need to recruit three different team leaders to help move this project forward and to make sure raised funds are spent wisely on progress,” Bumgarner stated.

It was stressed the core group is looking for widespread participation.

“We want to bring younger people into the process,” Hevern added.

The attention, at that point, shifted to the implementation of financing and the initial fund goal that includes $100,000 in 100 days (seed money before getting long-term financing in place).

“We have $47,000 to date and we’re confident,” Hevern told the assembled group.

The three-year plan revolves around $500,000 for the strategic plan to move forward.

Options for money include the business community and public/private entities. Another possibility is the Emmet County Community Foundation.

The core group has plans for the Estherville Community Betterment Fund. “This would allow everyone to participate,” Bumgarner said noting any amount would be accepted and in that respect, everyone could be part of the plan.

The availability of grant money will also be explored.

Both men agreed that to get the “most bang for the buck,” the one-cent Local Options Sales Tax is a viable avenue.

Although there is the additional penny on local sales tax for the Estherville Lincoln Central School District at present, there isn’t one for business opportunities. It was duly noted every county surrounding Emmet has this particular Local Options Sales Tax.

“We need to do this,” Bumgarner said, noting the extra penny could generate an additional $600,000 a year for Excel! Estherville.

A committee will be formed to seriously look at this issue and put it to a community vote. “It’s a wonderful source of money and it will make Estherville a much better place to live, work and play,” Hevern stated.

Persons who wish to volunteer time and input for Excel! Estherville can call the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce, (712) 362-3541.

Contact Mary Ann Menendez at (712) 362-2622 or mmenendez@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com