Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates 115 years

The Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce named outgoing president Ken Anderson its Chairman’s Community Impact award recipient at its annual banquet Wednesday night.

Chamber members turned out to the Best Western Regency Inn for an evening of acknowledging accomplishments, looking toward goals and, of course, food. Speakers took the chance to reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments and look forward to new horizons and addressing new challenges.

One of the biggest changes this year was Anderson’s retirement, capping a 19-year career as chamber president at the end of May. Anderson said his being named the Chairman’s Community Impact recipient humbled him.

“I am proud to say the chamber is healthy,” Anderson said. “What you are going to do with the next one year, five years, 10 years? It’s not about me leaving.”

Lynn Olberding, chamber vice president, said she couldn’t express enough gratitude to Anderson, who has acted as a mentor to her.

The chamber named Mary Rund Chamber Person of the Year. Olberding said Rund was an obvious choice and that her dedication and attitude went beyond expectations. But Rund was quick to chalk the chamber’s success over the past year to its members.

“It takes all the businesses in Marshalltown to make Marshalltown thrive,” Rund said.

Tom Deimerly, president of Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee, detailed some of MEDIC’s successes of the year, including securing Marshalltown as the site of the proposed Alliant plant, the 13th Street revitalization and the addition of a new call center.

Part of the MEDIC’s success comes from its ability to keep pushing forward with meeting the needs of its members once that business has the requisite workforce, Deimerly said. Science Technology Engineering and Math efforts have also ensured a well-equipped workforce in the future, he said.

Chamber chair Deb Borton and MEDIC chair Sharon Greer announced the formation of the Marshalltown Regional Partnership. Greer said the partnership is a way to accept Anderson’s challenge to continue looking forward and staying focused on the future.

“We need to be cheerleaders, not be negative,” Greer said.

Shannon Espenscheid, Marshalltown Convention & Visitors Bureau director, said 2012 was a good year for Marshalltown. It hosted 90 conventions and meetings and continued perennial events such as the barbecue competition and the Holiday Stroll. Then of course, there was RAGBRAI.

This year’s keynote speaker was Des Moines attorney Charlie Wittmack, who completed the World Triathlon in 2011. Wittmack biked, climbed and ran more than 10,000 miles in less than a year, spanning the globe from England’s River Thames to Mount Everest.

The banquet also played host to the graduation of the 2013 Iowa Valley Leadership class. The class chose a community project and presented Marshalltown City Council members Joel Greer and Leon Lamer with a check for $12,000 to help fund the Marshalltown Police Department’s K-9 unit project.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper, who was among the program’s graduates, said the police department has now met its $60,000 goal to fund the replacement of K-9s Creasy, who died late last year, and Awol, who suffers from a degenerative muscle disorder.

Olberding said the chamber hosted several seminars in 2012, and its first annual Chamburrrr Scurry was well-attended; it cut 65 ribbons, and half its members sponsored an event last year.

The chamber recently renewed its accreditation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, renewing its four-star status indicating its position in the county’s top 1 percent, Olberding said. She echoed Deimerly’s sentiment that fostering economic stability is a long-term goal.

“It takes patience, planning and persistence,” she said.

This year’s banquet marked 115 years the chamber has been in existence.