By Lea Hensel, UNI Business & Community Services
One of the greatest assets of IASourceLink are the resource partners; over 350 public organizations throughout the state that provide expertise and assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses at little or even no cost. For every small business, being a part of the local chamber can result in tapping into a wealth of services and marketing opportunities, as well as networking to get your business out there and especially in rural areas of the state where the marketing opportunities and networking aren’t as abundant as in larger metros.
So this month we wanted to feature a chamber in a rural area and with a little bit of love in the air because it’s February, it wasn’t difficult to find a chamber that loves its community - Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce.
We talked to Executive Director, Linda Washburn, to learn a little more about what makes the Glenwood area special.
Tell us a little bit about your area of the state.
Glenwood is located in southwest Iowa. We are flanked by the beautiful Loess Hills and Missouri River bottom to the west, business development to the south, housing to the east in rural Mills County, and housing to the north on the National Scenic Byway, Highway 275. We are a bedroom community to the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan area. Just under 50% of our employed work in the metro area. Local foods initiatives for farmer's markets, wineries, event venues, a brewery, and small businesses are prevalent in our area. We proclaim to have the best of both worlds...small towns with excellent schools, volunteers, local investors, and all that you need but close to the city for amenities not available in our small towns. We have access to outstanding transportation corridors.
Do you have any unique projects or events coming up?
Two years ago, a major transportation corridor opened connecting Nebraska with Iowa at the I-29 (Exit 35) and Highway 34, extending Highway 34 eight miles west of the Missouri River. We have two projects due to break ground Spring 2017 at this exit and we have two new restaurants coming to Glenwood soon. Our Annual Dinner and Awards Program will be in March, a close to 40-year tradition to recognize and award those who contribute their time and talents to Mills County. Glenwood hosts its Annual Homecoming Weekend that attracts alumni with events and celebrations. Our local brewery, in its sixth year in the craft beer industry, just expanded to a large production facility. Our local wineries work collaboratively to promote our area as a wine region and acquired a designation for wine produced from Loess Hills grapes. Other small businesses have opened the past six months: hair salon, brick oven pizza shop, coffee shop, antique store, engine repair shop, to name a few, and several other businesses in Malvern, our neighboring town to the east, with a fitness center, model train shop, bakery with pizza, and large expansion for a pharmacy. A community center and new housing development are coming soon.
What are you most looking forward to with 2017 getting underway?
After 17 years as the Chamber and Economic Development Director, I am looking forward to serving the Glenwood/Mills County area as the Chamber Director only. There is always so much to do to serve our members, promote businesses and events, grow our membership, and generate new ideas. I look forward to spending more time in the community working with our members to help them engage in the community for business exposure and networking. There is always something we can do better.
What do you love about leading the Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce?
I love the suspense, challenge, and unknown of what will happen next! We are a resource and referral organization for Glenwood, all of Mills County, the area, and the state. Every day is different. We meet interesting people and respond to interesting questions. I am proud to be a part of an organization that attracts board members who are passionate about the communities and works for the betterment of the business community and its people. I take pride in knowing as much as I can about the communities and the county, gathering new information each day, and strive to be the best resource for our area.
It looks like 2017 is going to be a great year for the Glenwood area with exciting events and lots of new restaurants and businesses to grow the local community!