(563) 927-4141
200 East Main Street Manchester, IA 52057

You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home
Emily Thole, Summer Intern, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce
July 27, 2018

In life, you look to different people for advice. Your parents, teachers, coaches, family members and other mentors give words of wisdom that travel with you through time. But recently I found out that my childhood icon, Hannah Montana, gave me some of the best advice of all. Hannah had countless hits that I still jam out to today, but the one that continues to resonate with me the most is, “You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home.” In many ways, this statement is true for everyone, but this summer I realized just how important home was to me.

Let’s quickly rewind back to a little over three years ago when eighteen year old Emily was looking for a college. Oh wait, unlike most other kids my age, I wasn’t looking at all. When it came time to choose a college, I didn’t want to think about it. I was not ready for any change that was going to happen. Eventually, with an extremely hard and agonizing push from my parents, I applied to schools and went on college visits. Trying to pick a school for the next four years was hard, and trying to pick a school to play a sport as well was even harder. When I finally decided in March of my senior year, I chose a school six hours away. To say this was a surprise was an understatement. I am a homebody, and always have been. I love being around my family, I have a boyfriend from the area and all of my friends were going to close schools, but I threw everyone, including myself, a curve ball. Choosing between a school 45 minutes from home and six hours south felt like a life or death decision, but something was pulling me away from my home for the first time in my life.

Now here I am going into my senior year at the University of Central Missouri, and it’s been everything I could have hoped for. I have been able to grow so much as an individual in life, in the classroom and on the track, but it also helped me realize how lucky I was to call Manchester my first home. I am back this summer as a Marketing Intern for the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce, and I absolutely love it. I am learning and growing even more through the community and the people I grew up around. Manchester is where I had sleepovers at my grandparent’s farm, where I learned how to drive, where I found my best friends, where I discovered my love for track and field and so much more, so coming back here to do an internship was a no brainer. Interning at the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce has confirmed what I already knew; the community of Manchester is something special.

Manchester shaped me into who I am today. Without this community I would have never gotten the courage to expand my horizons. Without this community, I would have never gotten out of my comfort zone. Without this community, I would have never found an area of work that I love. And it’s because of this amazing community that I always find my way back home. Thanks for the advice, Hannah Montana.


The Gift that Keeps On Giving
 Ali Manson, Executive Director, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce
April 12, 2018

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day right around the corner, we know there is a mad rush that will soon be coming to find the perfect gift. Not to mention, Administrative Professionals Day on April 25th! The same thing is true with birthdays and anniversaries, or any other event to celebrate that person that seems to have everything, or that you just don’t know what they will like and you want them to really be happy with your gift. Of course, we know that Chamber Certificates are the ideal way to go. With those, you can use them at over 215 Chamber member locations! They work just like cash and can be used for everything from gas to groceries, to shoes and appliances. Chamber certificates also keep your dollars local. We all know the importance of shopping locally, and these certificates not only support our local businesses, but they also support the businesses that are a part of the Chamber, which helps to support community events and programs that keep our community growing.

Besides gifts, there are other ways to use the Chamber Certificates and really support area businesses. Some of our members have realized this such as Rockwell Collins, Regional Medical Center and the Good Neighbor Society, who uses them to thank and show appreciation to those who work above and beyond their regular hours and duty. The Good Neighbor Society shares, “At the Good Neighbor Society, we are proud to offer our employees many great benefits ranging from a 401K match to a competitive medical benefit package. In addition to these somewhat ‘normal’ benefits we love to think outside the box and be different with special incentives. Some special incentives that our employees love to receive/participate in are eating a FREE home cooked meal every day, dressing up to support a cause and winning/earning Chamber Certificates! By offering these special incentives, in particular Chamber Certificates, our team members are able to indulge in something special for themselves, feel rewarded for going the extra mile, and give back to our community by purchasing something local at a Chamber Members Business!”

So the next time you need to find something special to give to someone else, or want a unique gift that is outside the box, give Chamber Certificates, the gift that keeps on giving!


How Things Roll
Ali Manson, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
March 1, 2018

Being positive is something that we all have to be cognizant of. For some people, seeing the glass half-full comes second nature, while for others, it can be a stretch and it may take them a long time to bounce back when they have a set-back. Everyone is different, and we don’t want to insinuate that one person’s temperament is better than another’s, but there are some real business related advantages to being and staying positive. Shawn Achor is a leader and pioneer in positive psychology and has done extensive research in this field. He has found that people are more productive and that our minds actually work better when we are in a positive state, even when compared to a neutral state. This isn’t just fluffy feel good stuff, there are real solid numbers to back it up. According to Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage, when people are more positive, sales improve 37% cross-industry, productivity is increased by 31%, you’re 40% more likely to receive a promotion, employees report being nearly 10 times more engaged at work, you live longer,  your symptoms are lessened if you become ill, and much more.

The reason I feel this is so important is because the business world is constantly changing, the economy is forever going up and down, and let’s face it, they call it work for a reason! I know a lot of people who have a vision of what their business will look like, how complimentary their customers will be, and how the current economy is going to boost their shares and sales, but it doesn’t always work like that. In short, it really can be hard, and people who own or work at a small business or at a business in a rural community, are some of the grittiest and most visionary people I know. I am so proud to live and work in a community like ours where even when it’s hard and times can be tough, people push through. They know that things will get better or, more importantly, they find ways to adapt.

As the Chamber of Commerce, we are of course here to help you roll with the times and to celebrate the successes with you as well. So it is important to keep that positive mindset that will carry you through, and help your be more productive and successful. A positive mindset does not mean just smiling more and it certainly doesn’t mean pretending that everything is great when they may not be, but there are a few things that Achor suggests doing and implementing in your every day life that we thought were worth sharing:

1)      Focus on your gratitudes – Write down three things that you are grateful for each day, and you can’t repeat! Try this for 21 days.

2)      Journal – Write about a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day.

3)      Exercise –  Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity. Your heart will thank you in multiple ways!

4)      Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day. Taking some quiet time for yourself is crucial. And no cell phones during this time!

5)      Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness –  Send a thank-you card, follow up with an old friend through a phone call, or pay that coffee forward in a drive thru.

You will be amazed at the impact that these can have on your life, your outlook and your business. Even if you are skeptical of the impact this can have on your personal and work life, what do you have to lose? So keep smiling, keep scanning for great things to be grateful for, and enjoy life and all the waves you have the opportunity to roll with!


Being Intentional About Your Goals
Ali Manson, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
January 8, 2018

The beginning of a new year is a unique time. Whether a person makes a resolution or not, I think it’s fair to say that everyone looks forward to the idea of a fresh start and making themselves better. You can think of it as setting goals, becoming more intentional, or making the traditional resolution, but the most important thing is to carry through with it. Undoubtedly, this is the most difficult part. According to Forbes, 40% of people make a New Year’s resolution and only 8% of those people actually keep them.

It’s important to make goals, but goals don’t do a lot of good unless they are worked at and kept in the top of mind. Goals are also important for personal growth, professional growth and business growth. Even if you feel like you missed the boat and we’re already into the New Year and you can’t make a resolution, you can always set goals and be more intentional! Here are some ways that we recommend to you to make 2018 the best year yet!

  1. Focus on others. It may sound bizarre to talk about thinking of others when we are talking about you becoming a better version of yourself, but according to researcher Adam Grant, people who give back to others end up being the ones who succeed more in their job and personal life.
  2. Listen to yourself. We all have unique skills and gifts. When we operate without using our skills, it will lead to stress and burnout. However, when we know what motivates us, what our passions, skills and gifts are, we feel called to our purpose and goals and end up having more to give to complete it than we ever imagined!
  3. Get engaged. Being a part of a team helps to create accountability and also gives you a group that will support you when you need it. The Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce has a variety of ways to get involved whether it’s through committees, the Board, or joining the new group, Delco AMP’T which focuses specifically on our next wave of leaders.

Above all else, know that we are here for you! Our Board and staff have thought long and hard to identify our own core values, mission and goals, all with the intent to make the Manchester Area the best place for people to raise a family, have some fun, and grow economically. We can make an impact on our community when we all have a positive outlook and vision for what we want to accomplish! We would love to hear your goals or resolutions! Feel free to send us a note on our Facebook page or email us as macc@manchesteriowa.org.


Surviving the Countdown to Christmas
Ali Manson, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
December 15, 2017

It’s mid-December and we know it’s a busy time of year. Our office, however, is anything but slowing down! As people gather their last minute gifts or stocking stuffers, we see an increase of traffic in our door and Chamber Certificates going out! Chamber Certificates can be used like cash at any Chamber Member business so they make a great gift for any one, old or young, plus they make sure that those dollars stay local and impact our own economy. They are one of the few kinds of certificates that can be used in over 200 places and truly are the gift that just keeps giving.
Aside from that though, let’s face it, they’re easy!

A recent survey found that parents have only 15 minutes of free time to themselves a day. This season, let us help you do the shopping! At the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce, we value our community first and fore-most and we know that means taking care of our families and taking care of each other. When we have families that are struggling, we look for ways to step in and help. When we see a way to improve, we look forward to the challenge, and when we want what’s best for our future leaders, we set our sights and our visions high. All of this takes time, and all of it happens in small steps and little ways that will eventually make a big difference.

Our work every day is an effort to keep our community strong and growing, provide you with the tools and resources you need, and give you great ways to connect with your family and friends whether it is through gift giving (like Chamber Certificates) or by spending quality time with each other at community events such as the Window Walk and Static Christmas Parade.

As we end the year on a high note, we want to thank you for your support over the past year! We are looking forward to next year and have some great plans already in the works! Thank you for being a part of our incredible community and remember, we’re in this together, so if we can help make your holiday a little less of a hassle, let us know and we will set you up with some Chamber certificates and give you more of that quality family time that you really crave. Merry Christmas!


Jingle Bells and Thinking Local

Ali Manson, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce
November 10, 2017

The holidays are upon us which means you are going to be hearing a lot of music with jingle bells, a lot of advertising, and a lot of people saying that you need to shop local. Shop Local Saturday is on November 25th this year which is an entire day dedicated to creating awareness and creating excitement so people know the importance and want to keep their dollars local rather than watching them drive out of our community. Obviously, we at the Chamber, feel very strongly about shopping local because our role is to support local businesses and help those local businesses support other local businesses. However, I want to take it a little further and invite you to think local as well.
Sales this time of year make or break a business, but this is a mindset that we need to settle on and adopt every season and every month of the year. When we think local, we accomplish this and more. Thinking local means that we not only think of purchasing gifts at our local retailers, but we support every small business whether they provide a tangible good or a helpful or necessary service.
When we think local, we are actually putting 3 times the amount of money back into our community rather than going out of town and buying from a large chain. This is because these businesses do business with other locals creating the all-important multiplier effect in our local economy.
Thinking locally also helps to create and retain good jobs. One study found that shopping on Amazon creates 14 jobs for every $10 million spent while shopping locally creates 57 jobs per $10 million spent.

The old saying “money makes the world go ‘round” may seem to be especially true during the busy shopping and retail seasons of the year, but thinking locally really helps to create the sustainability that our community needs to be progressive and thriving. When we think local, it fosters relationships. It creates that “experience” that people are looking for when they decide on a business to buy from, a mechanic to tune up their car, and a medical or insurance provider. These local businesses make our communities unique and keep them extraordinary. So, I invite you to join us in thinking local. We can all be conscious consumers, not just during the holiday season, but through the entire year!


Hard Facts and Data Leading the Way
Ali Manson, Executive Director, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce
October 2, 2017

The Chamber of Commerce works to support local businesses and the community to improve the quality of life, economic well-being, and awareness of the Manchester Area so that our community will be a better place to reside and conduct business of professional endeavors. While this can seem like a pretty board or vague mission to march towards, we us real data to drive what we do and what the community needs. This data is public information and is posted on websites such as Iowa State University and Iowa Workforce Development.

To some people, data can be boring or hard to read and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but if used correctly, it can point us to trends and give us a look at what we need to do to direct our priorities and efforts. All data is subjective to how it was collected, but regardless, it paints a picture of our community. Here is some data and research that you might find interesting and give you some insight in what we are doing, thinking about, and planning here at the Chamber:

  1. In 2016, according to the Iowa State University Iowa Community Indicators Program (http://www.icip.iastate.edu/retail), real total taxable sales in Delaware County were $136,886,477. Compared to 5 years earlier, in 2011, the same study found real total taxable sales at $118,115,353 which is a 15.89% increase. What this tells us is that people are still shopping and using their local retailers and that we are seeing the trend steadily increase. Great news that allows us to look at what could be increasing those numbers and what we are going to do to continue them and keep them going.
  2. One of the biggest issues we are facing as we support our business and community is workforce. While it may seem that a low unemployment rate is a great thing, it can become an issue when we have businesses doing well and wanting or needing to expand and there are not enough workers. According to the Labor Market Information Division, unemployment as of July 2017 for Delaware County was at 2.4%. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 4.4%.

So, what does this data mean? Well for Delaware County at this time, it tells us that people are continuing to shop and buy locally but that we also are going to need to bring more people in to sustain that and keep a balance. Communities are living a breathing and change on a daily basis and we keep this going by working with our community partners and Chamber member businesses to stay progressive, growing, and keeping things moving in the right direction! Both of these sets of data are great news, so why not tell your friends and family about it-Manchester would be a great place for them to come and live, work and play!


The Changing of the Seasons
Ali Manson, Executive Director, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce
August 24, 2017

Shelves of school supplies have been depleted, camps are coming to an end and it seems as though everyone is looking for a way to fit in one last day of vacation. It is true, the sounds and sights of school and fall are here and while many people look back and wonder where the summer has gone, we look back with great memories of a jam packed summer and with anticipation of what lies ahead!

Before we kiss those summer months good-bye, we wanted to do a re-cap of all the great things we were able to be a part of!

  • Farmers’ Market began in May as one of the first signs of summer! If you haven’t made it out there yet, you can still get your hands on some of the great harvests every Saturday morning until October 7th!
  • The Chamber hosted the 1st annual Rhubarb on the River event which combined Rhubarb Fest and River Fest into one large community celebration! It was unseasonably warm that early June day, but we had more than 800 people come through for rhubarb brats, pies, vendors, music and water activities!
  • Also in June, more than 80 individuals and businesses had a chance to network on the green at the annual Chamber Golf Outing. There were prizes galore and some very creative games played on the holes sponsored by our area businesses.
  • The Chamber also partnered with many other county and area organizations to kick off Community Connections, a pilot program through the Regional Transit Authority to provide transportation to those who lack it and need rides to help them stay healthy.
  • Music on Main was held only once this summer at the beginning of August and brought out a great crowd on a Friday night and also allowed area bikers to show off their pride and joy!
  • Monthly Trivia Nights continued at the Franklin Street Brewing Company in partnership with the Chamber and averaged about 70 attendees and trivia enthusiasts each night.
  • Bacon-N-Hops capped the Chamber events for the season and we had more than 300 people partake in the sampling of bacon, hops, and great music!

Along with all of these, we continued to support the community through other events that were taking place, celebrating another year of tour buses and the Delaware County Fair while still making it a top priority to be out and about the community to see where we can step in and help our businesses grow and expand. #FeatureFriday posts on Facebook began this summer and have become a regular weekly feature, and our newest membership directories were also printed. Additionally, our website was completely redone with being user friendly at the top of mind.

As we move into a change of the seasons, we know we have a lot of great things to look forward to! The Chamber Sideliners NFL raffle will be kicking off soon as well as Feargrounds, Scarecrows on Parade, Sparkling Night Wine Delight and more!

So as the kids head back to school and we start to think about trading in that lemonade for pumpkin spice, we are filled with gratitude. The support of the community and area businesses coming together to create a vibrant and active place for everyone to live and work is what makes being part of a small town in Iowa so great! Thanks for the summer memories and hello, fall!

Word of Mouth Works

July 24, 2017
Ali Manson

Every day is different at the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce. We never know who is going to call and have a question for us or who the next person is going to be through our front door. What we do know is that we can help point every person in the right direction and make them feel welcomed and a part of the community. For many people, we are seen as the connector. However, it’s the businesses that partner together and work with us that really create this community feeling of pride and support. One of the things that Chambers are heralded for is supporting area businesses and giving referrals. Although this might seem like something that is trivial and doesn’t make a big difference, we know that adding that personal touch and connecting people is exactly what most people are coming to us for.

A few days ago, a couple from Virginia stopped in on their way through town over the lunch hour and asked for a recommendation of a good place to eat. They didn’t want fast food, and they wanted something that would make them feel like they were at home. Fortunately, we have a few of those within walking distance of our office! A few minutes later, a caller from Wisconsin phoned in asking for help in planning a wedding. She was inquiring about the best places for the wedding party and their out of state guests to stay without having to leave town. We were able to tell her that we have two great B&Bs and a hotel that has been recently remodeled and renovated right here in Manchester! Not much later, another call came in from Elkader. They were looking for a business that serviced and sold appliances. It was their lucky day-we had a business open that very same day that could do both of those!

We never know who the next person that stops in will be or who the caller on the line is looking for, but with a robust Chamber of Commerce, we are able to keep those connections going. We know that the Chamber is made up of more than just the two staff and board members who help keep the Chamber going. We are made up of businesses who have the same belief-that together we are a stronger community and a better place to live, work and play!


73 Years Strong!
June 30, 2017
Ali Manson

The Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce has been in Manchester for 73 years, yet what we find is that many people do not realize what the Chamber does. Some people simply sum it up by saying the Chamber does things that most people think just happen. For us, though, we want to be a vibrant part of the community and engaging as many people as possible! For me, if people ask what a Chamber does, I say we are the voice of our business community. We collaborate with community partners and businesses to drive economic development. We look at ways to support the workforce and build upon our community to bring more people and families in. But most importantly, we listen to our businesses. As a Chamber, we are membership based. We are not funded by taxpayers or by the City or County, but by our members. This builds a network of businesses and individuals who believe in supporting each other and the community to keep things growing and progressing. In everything we do, we look at how it will impact the businesses in our community and strive to make decisions that impact them in a positive way. Through our efforts and through working with numerous other community partners, we celebrate every victory, whether big or small, and look at ways to quantify the impact we as a community can make. According to the Retail Trade Analysis Report from the Iowa State University Department of Economics, retail sales were up 4.4% in Manchester in fiscal year 2016! Progress takes time, and it takes the commitment of business partners, organizations, the City, County, and other entities to make it happen, and we are proud to be a part of a community that believes in pushing for progress!