All things good about small towns in Guthrie and Adair counties were celebrated Thursday, Jan. 25 at the Midwest Partnership Economic Development annual meeting.
The occasion was held before a full room of guests at the Casey Community Building.
Bill Menner is the founder of The Bill Menner Group, a consulting firm focused on community development, rural partnerships and economic vitality. His clients include rural utilities, business start-ups, and both the Iowa Rural Development Council and the Iowa Rural Health Association, for whom he serves as their executive director.
Menner was in attendance to give the keynote address.
“What I think you’ve all figured out in this room is one of the secret solutions of economic vitality. I always use this quote, and it goes back to the founders of this nation. It was Ben Franklin who said, ‘We can either hang together or we can hang separately.’ And I think that applies to small towns as well,” Menner said. “You can be independent as a town or a county, but there’s strength in numbers. The sort of collaboration you have over two counties gives you a lot of power that other counties and other communities don’t have, because there’s strength in numbers.”
Prior to Menner’s address, MWP Executive Director Brenda Dudley gave her first report as leader of the organization and talked about what she thinks can make anyone a successful economic developer — including herself.
“Midwest Partnership’s goal is to strengthen the economic vitality of the communities of Adair and Guthrie counties,” Dudley said. “We believe good relationships are important to know and understand what is happening in each community. Successful economic development cannot happen by being in the office everyday.”
Dudley stated that the success of, and help from several other organizations are paramount to MWP also accomplishing its goals. Focus is not only given to bringing new businesses in, but strengthening the ones the two counties already have.
Corey and Colleen Conrad of West Des Moines were repeat recipients of the Entrepreneurial Impact Award for their ongoing efforts to help revitalize downtown Casey. Their latest endeavor has been Tin Lizzie’s Sports Bar, an extension of Pioneers Pub and Grub.
Midwest Partnership’s board is led by President Marty Doud of Stuart, Vice President Matt Wedemeyer of Casey, Treasurer Ryan Morrison of Stuart and Secretary Stacie Eshelman of Greenfield.
Ryan Billheimer and Steve Smith were recognized because they’re leaving the MWP board this year.