New Chapter for Advancing Mahaska County

Front row L to R
James Feudner, Carri Vande Ree, Jill Ewing, Janet Kuskie, Beth Danowsky, Andy McGuire
Back row L to R
Nik Rule, Sarah Dickey, Beth Brostrom, Gerad Curry, Steve Wanders, and Calvin Bandstra
Not pictured
Lyle Siefering, Michael Schrock, Steve Burnett, and Paula Wright

January 20, 2020, marked a historic day for those individuals and organizations involved in promoting continued growth and enhanced quality of life in Mahaska County. That was the date of the first Board meeting of two groups that merged January 1 so that resources could be managed more effectively. This new entity chose Mahaska Chamber & Development Group as its new name to signify the importance of working together as a region, including Oskaloosa as the largest city and the county seat, the 10 other incorporated communities located within Mahaska County’s boundaries, and the rural areas which bind these communities together.

For a number of years, there had been two groups that often had similar goals. One was the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group, which had the longest history in the area as its roots went back to 1944. This member-based organization, directed by Ann Frost, also works with Oskaloosa Main Street, which promotes the vibrancy of a healthy downtown district, and Mahaska County Ag and Rural Development directed by Deann DeGroot, which supports the needs of the rural areas and smaller communities throughout Mahaska County.

The other group was the Mahaska Community Development Group. This group had been in existence for only 15 years and was organized and supported by larger businesses to lead special initiatives throughout the county, usually relating to economic development. As time went on, it became apparent that these two groups were competing for the same resources in terms of both dollars and volunteer commitment. In 2018 the groups began merger discussions, with the Mahaska Community Development Group to be merged into the long-standing Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group. Votes by the members of each group were taken in 2019, and the merger was overwhelmingly approved by both entities.

The new Mahaska Chamber & Development Group will commonly be referred to as “the Chamber.” A strong effort was made to have a broad-based Board of Directors representing all areas of Mahaska County. Examples of this are mandating that representatives of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors, City of Oskaloosa, Mahaska County Ag and Rural Development, and Oskaloosa Main Street be board members so that all geographic areas of the County will be represented. Additionally, other seats on the Board must be filled by individuals from the education community, the non-profit community, the small-business community, and the large-business community to ensure that all voices can be heard as decisions are made to help Mahaska County prosper and become a place of choice for people to reside and for businesses to locate.

James Feudner, Regional President of Bank Iowa and the first President of the new Board, commented: “It is exciting to see that many months of hard work by both groups have now culminated into one organization. It is equally exciting to be located in a part of Iowa where so many opportunities exist, and it is the Chamber’s goal to make sure we promote the Mahaska County community to make others aware of the great things happening here.”

Posted by on Jan 28 2020. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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