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Jingle Bells and Thinking Local
Jessica Pape, 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
Jessica Pape, 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
Jessica Pape, 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
Jessica Pape

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
Jessica Pape

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!