Going the full 15 rounds
Normally, the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce and Estherville Industrial Development Corporation annual meeting is draped with laudatory comments about the number of new businesses – or business prospects – the community has.
When the country is in the depths of a severe recession, though, one has to feel lucky if there’s a decent business climate at all.
Tuesday night’s annual meeting at the Little Swan Lake Winery had the air and temper of a community that has made it through a very challenging time – turned the corner. Though certainly not as severe as the perfect storm of the closing of Morrell’s and the farm crisis of the 1980s, the national recession has definitely hit Estherville.
But we’re survivors. And if you can survive when others are falling by the wayside, when times are good, you will thrive.
EIDC President and Estherville Mayor Lyle Hevern noted this is EIDC’s 50th year in working toward creating jobs in Estherville. “We’ve been heavily gearing our efforts toward the wind industry,” Hevern said, reviewing both the NorthStar and Red Rock wind projects.
In addition, EIDC helps existing industries. There’s also an entrepreneurship program to help people get started in business. The EIDC can help with financial and accounting assistance as well as developing business plans. Hevern said by next year EIDC hopes to have a food product development incubator. EIDC also works with existing business and encourages youth to explore business opportunities.
Hevern said Estherville, through the Iowa Lakes Corridor, is getting national exposure at trade shows. He said Estherville will also have a bigger presence at the National Wind Conference in Dallas in 2010 where it will court wind-energy industries to check out Estherville.
In reviewing the first full year of Excel! Estherville projects, Hevern noted interest in the facade grand improvement program. Work continues on a community branding campaign, a multi-use trail system, beautification and arts and culture.
“There’s a lot of neat, wonderful things going on in Estherville,” Hevern said.
Chamber Executive Director Dusty Embree was ecstatic about the chamber’s acquisition of a portion of the Estherville meteorite. The chamber bought the artifact via telephone bid from an auction in Edinburgh, Scotland in August and the meteorite just recently arrived.
Embree also highlighted Estherville’s other points of interest and recent and upcoming events. The Snowglobes festival will be greatly expanded this year and Thursday night shopping will be heavily promoted this holiday season, Embree said.
Chamber member testimonials also came from Steve Danielson and Tom Inman.
“I want to better my community. It’s only going to happen with us and by us,” Danielson said. “This is a good place to live. We’ve got just a ton of things to happen.”
Danielson urged chamber members to recruit other members to make a stronger organization.
Danielson’s message, saying, “If you put more into the chamber you’re going to get more out.”
“I choose to be very active,” said Inman. “I choose to volunteer for many things. And I think that has paid back to my business many times over.”
While the recession has had many businesses reeling in other parts of the country, Inman said that was not the case for his business. He said December 2008 was by far his best month ever.
“I know the chamber has helped me in my business,” Inman said.