The Nevada Economic Development Council held a breakfast April 24 to celebrate its one-year anniversary of collaboration with Ames Economic Development, and to share a list of its strategic plans as it moves forward into 2020.
“April is pretty special to us,” said NEDC Board President Patrick Sheets, commending the partnership with Ames. “We haven’t missed a beat … there’s never been a speed bump.”
John Hall, executive director of the NEDC, said one of the key pieces in making the partnership between Ames and Nevada work has been the NEDC team in Nevada. “There are so many tools and resources involved with the team here.”
Hall said the past year has been filled with big wins. He noted three of the biggest: Mid-States’ expansion, Burke’s expansion (including a great partnership with the city of Ames helping with the wastewater during a transition period) and VERBIO taking over the former DuPont plant.
“What’s going to happen to DuPont?,” Hall said, was one of the biggest questions he got when he started with the NEDC. That has now been answered.
Hall then spoke about a shift in focus for the NEDC, in which the group is looking to tackle not only big company projects but smaller community-need projects as well. The Strategic Plan 2020 sets out goals that include things like housing, restaurants and lodging.
Here’s the list of goals:
1. Enhance the amount of available land for industrial development by acquiring the city of Nevada’s 51 acres on West 18th Street (Airport Road) and deploying infrastructure to create parcels for industrial use. Additionally, begin phase two of growth of West A Avenue (where Van Wall is located) by securing an additional 25-50 acres under option, adjacent to that land.
2. Major industrial — conversations will be had with landowners along Lincoln Highway and 600th Avenue to acquire options for land in 40-acre parcels to allow for larger projects in Nevada.
3. Enhance housing opportunities in Nevada by 75 units by Oct. 1, 2020.
4. Grow NEDC membership investment by 100 percent over the next 24 months.
5. Focus on support of existing business and industry by ensuring that each identified company is visited annually.
6. Market existing building inventory, with the goal of filling at least 50 percent of available property/space in the next 24 months.
7. Re-brand/update NEDC website and marketing materials. (It was also shared at the meeting that the re-branding for the NEDC will be tied to branding of the city of Nevada and Nevada Schools, among other entities, to create a more unified community marketing plan.)
8. Pursue and support enhanced conference space and lodging options in Nevada over the next 24 months.
9. Work to attract and support an additional restaurant and/or microbrewery (serving food) in Nevada in the next 12 months.
10. Evaluate NEDC board’s position on a community recreation center by March 1 of this year.
Michelle Cassabaum, chairperson of the Investor Relations Committee of the NEDC, spoke a little more about the new way that membership is being looked at by the NEDC.
“Ames Economic Development has really challenged us to determine, ‘What do we want to be?,’” she said. The NEDC is now looking at having people be “investors” with the NEDC, rather than “members,” because ultimately, that’s why people support the NEDC — to invest in their community’s future.
Growing the NEDC’s investors by 100 percent over the next 24 months isn’t an impossible idea, Cassabaum noted. “We know we can do this… because you want to see Nevada grow.”
Casey Johnson, owner of the Ames and Nevada Ford Lincoln dealerships, said he’s been involved with both the NEDC in Nevada and Ames Economic Development. He commented, “Today is a crossroads for Nevada.” And for Ames, Huxley, Nevada and other local communities that are partnering together on economic development, he added, “This greenbelt of Iowa is like a gold mine.” He commended both Dan Culhane, president and CEO at Ames Chamber of Commerce & Ames Economic Development Commission, and Hall for their dynamic leadership abilities.
The NEDC breakfast, held at Gatherings, was hosted by the Investor Relations Committee of the NEDC and sponsored by business owner Al Kockler. Sheets concluded the presentation by announcing that Mark Smith of ALMACO will be the incoming president of NEDC and Sara Clausen of Key Coop will be the incoming vice president.