The last week has brought more challenges than I think our community has ever seen. The COVID-19 virus came and blew up our lives so much more than many of us could have ever imagined. I’ll be the first to admit that I was definitely not prepared for it – not at home, and definitely not at the office.
The governor of Iowa and many other governors across the country have begun to close and place some restrictions on certain businesses. Some have still been able to operate (minimally), while others were quite literally shut down, with very short notice. Some have closed to protect themselves & their customers from this virus - or taken steps to promote social distancing.
If you drove down Main Street Osage this morning like I did – I’m guessing you noticed what I did. Lots of closed signs, not many cars – a sign of what could be our new normal if we do not do all we can to lift up our local businesses. What if some of these businesses never reopen? What if they simply cannot recover? These are realities we need to face: picture your favorite business in our community - and now picture it boarded up and shuttered. That's a reality for a LOT of communities - we cannot let it be ours.
These business owners have chosen to invest in our community: they’ve invested in the building for their business; they pay property taxes on those buildings which help fund our community’s infrastructure; they are the first ones asked (and typically the first ones to oblige) for fundraisers for schools & churches, proms, fairs & festivals, benefits, etc. – and they do this because they love doing business in our community. They do it when business is not always so great (which is a lot nowadays). They also invest in advertising when they can – which helps to drive more outside traffic to the community (not just their business), resulting in an even bigger impact on our local economy.
By now you are all probably wondering – well if businesses are closed, what are we supposed to do to support them? I am SO glad you asked! (You probably knew I’d get there eventually, right?) Well, some small things (that include social distancing) would include showing some love on the business pages for some of our area businesses. Give one of their posts a SHARE – it’s worth so much (much more than a like)! You can also ask the business owner directly how you can support them right now. If you pay a monthly membership (i.e. gym / fitness center)– continue to pay it even if they are closed. Last but not least, support our area restaurants – many are working hard to provide carryout and delivery services when they are able.
Our board has been working on several ways to help these businesses during this time – we worked hard to create a dedicated community page where people can get information on business closings, new business offerings and other pertinent updates.
We hope to have a new targeted campaign live soon – be watching our Facebook page for updates over the next day or so. I encourage you all to partake and do what you can (no matter big or small) to help our small businesses. They truly ARE the backbone to our communities.
We’re not sure what is going to happen next, if/when more closings and/or restrictions are coming, among other things. What I do know – deep in my soul - is that our community rallies. We rally around each other; we pick each other up when we are down – and we will most certainly get through this. I hope you’ll join me in pledging to support all of our local businesses now – because they need it now more than ever.
The last week has been a whirlwind for most of the country - and Mitchell County is no exception! While (fortunately) we do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our immediate area, we've seen the ripple effects of announcements being made around the state, country - and the world.
This is one of those moments when we really need to support our local businesses - in any way possible - if you are able. Maybe there's a business you normally frequent but you want to avoid public places - pick up a gift card for future use - or see if they'd be willing to mail it to you. If there's a business you pay membership to (i.e. gym, subscription) - continue to pay those as many businesses use those fees to keep their doors open & lights on. If you aren't one to normally dine out, maybe you'd consider it more in the days and weeks ahead. If you'd rather stay out of public spaces, take-out is a great option also! Maybe there's a fundraiser you wanted to attend but are now hesitant - see about making a donation to the organization instead. All of these will help, however the biggest thing you can probably do right now is this: ask the business owner how you can help. Even if they don't have an answer, it will mean the world that you asked! If you're avoiding travel, plan a stay-cation and explore our backyard! There's much to see and do in and around Mitchell County. I hope you'll join me in making a concerted effort to support our area businesses - whatever that may look like - because they do for us every day.
This weekend is the Spring Preview Open House - and I know many of our retailers are looking forward to showing off some of the newest spring items - clothing, decor, furniture and other unique finds! If you have something you need but don't want to venture out, be sure to call or message the business - they love being able to help their customers find what they need!
As always, Chamber bucks are another great way we are able to keep spending dollars local - which fuels our local economy. Contact us if you would like an order by calling 641-732-3163 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Osage Chamber of Commerce
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The Downtown Farmers Market is nearly here – kicking off on Saturday, June 2nd. If you’ve attended the market in years past you’ve probably found fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods and fresh flowers… which should be expected this year, with a few new additions.
Besides the usual first Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon, producers will also be taking advantage of the new Chamber event, Last Thursdays, when our member stores stay open late for those who want to shop past 5. This is also the same night that Home Trust & Savings bank sponsors a free movie – most months. The downtown market will be open from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., offering more chances to get your favorite locally-produced items.
People can expect to find a few new items this year – grass-fed beef, eggs, and crafts will be some new additions this year. We’re hoping to incorporate some other fun activities into our market this year also – stay tuned for more on this!
If you haven’t been to our market in the past, we’re located in the parking lot of north State Street and south 7th streets – look for our signs! If you or someone you know are interested in participating, contact us at email@example.com.
2017 was a great year for the Osage Chamber of Commerce. 2017 brought us a new director, new members and businesses and soon, a new home!
Our year really kicks off with our annual spring fundraiser or “Big Event” in March. We hosted Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z for the 2nd year in a row in 2017. Nearly 500 people attended this event at the CRC Events Center.
The summer kicks off with Summer Treasures Fest the first weekend in June. Throughout the summer the Chamber also hosted 5 Friday Night Outs, 4 Downtown Farmers Markets, BRAM, the 4th of July parade, participated in the Mitchell County Fair as well as help promote other community & member events.
In September, our executive board and I began working on updating our strategic plan. We wanted to draw out what the future of the Osage Chamber of Commerce looks like, what goals we have for the next 3 years and how we will work to attain them. One of the main goals the Chamber has always had is to have its very own office building. We’re happy to have attained this goal in 2017 (much sooner than we had anticipated), and will have a new location at 704 Main Street this spring. Remodeling will begin in January.
The Chamber also helps welcome new residents to Osage. Each month, we deliver around 10 bags filled with items donated by our members, which helps promote their business. Included is also a folder of items relating to our schools, churches and general city information. For 2017 we delivered about 110 bags.
We helped welcome many new businesses as well in 2017. June through November we held 5 ribbon cuttings for newly-opened businesses or businesses that had a renovation or expansion.
The Chamber receives numerous information requests for those looking for general contact information or information relating to travel or relocation. We’ve started tracking these contacts and from July to December last year we received over 60 calls, emails or walk-ins contacts including people looking for information specific to Osage or just general inquiries as to what there is to do here or relocation packets.
Our Board of Directors and I are all very excited to see what we can do in 2018 for the betterment of Osage and the promotion of its business community. If you want to support our efforts, contact me to see how you can help!
As an organization that serves local business owners and customers, the Osage Chamber of Commerce is proud to support Small Business Saturday® this Nov 25.
Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to help strengthen local economies. Today, it’s a holiday shopping tradition celebrating a greater nationwide movement dedicated to uniting communities and supporting all kinds of small businesses, from the corner store to your favorite diner — because it’s unique small businesses like yours that help local communities stay vibrant.
Participating in Small Business Saturday is a great way to reach new customers and promote your business. Here are some ideas for getting involved on Nov 25:
• Let your community know that you plan to participate in Small Business Saturday. Visit ShopSmall.com/YourDay for free promotional assets, like ready-made social posts, to show your support.
• On Nov 25, transform your store. American Express offers free merchandise, while supplies last, to help your business make an impression. Don’t wait—apply for Small Business Saturday merchandise starting Oct 1 at ShopSmall.com/YourDay. Terms apply.
• Connect with other organizations in your community to see how you can work together on Small Business Saturday events and promotions.
The Osage Chamber of Commerce will be available at 601 Main Street on Saturday, November 25th to assist shoppers with directions and provide promotional materials from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Join us this Nov 25 to celebrate Small Business Saturday.
I've heard this question a lot in the few months since I've been appointed to this position. This tells me I have some work to do to educate our community about the many roles of the Osage Chamber. Each Chamber of Commerce for each community is a little different - but I'll lay out exactly what the Osage Chamber does.
First, the Osage Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit entity created to advocate for those who live and work in Osage. This is basically our mission statement (see sidebar on this page). How do we advocate? We are the organization that legislative bodies refer to in terms of commerce and tourism. Earlier this week, Senator Joni Ernst sat down with our executive board members, county economic development and other leaders in our community to talk about major issues we are facing regarding commerce and development in Mitchell County. Two big topics of conversation were labor force and housing - both which plague nearly every industry in our community.
We also have people looking to relocate and visit here all the time. How do I know? They call us - they email us - because they know that the Chamber of Commerce is the place that will know what's going on and which business can help fill their needs. A lot of the people requesting information live out of state and have never been here before.
People are looking for jobs in our community and products that our businesses can offer. A benefit of joining the chamber is your business will always be referred to these individuals looking for help. We can also help businesses find the workers to fill those positions!
Another component to my job is to act as our community's tourism representative. We're members of Central Iowa Tourism, attend the conference and attend regional meetings. We send out relocation information packets that include (again) referrals to our members' businesses. A lot of us have been in Osage our whole lives, but imagine if you were coming here for the first time: What's the best place to get a cup of coffee? Where can I work out? Where can I get my oil changed? Dry cleaning? Gift shop? Catch a show? Hike a trail? These are all very important amenities that Osage is proud to offer! Also, all inquiries are logged so we know where our visitors are coming from and what times of year. We also maintain Osage's Welcome Center, located in the lower level of City Hall. This is a go-to for all area attractions and businesses.
These are all very different components to a large role a Chamber plays in the community. A lot of people would say we just do advertising. While that's partially true, I think it's important to talk about the kinds of advertising we do. We work with businesses to target specific audiences for different events. We also design & place generic advertising for Osage throughout the year to get visitors here. These primarily showcase our parks, recreation, things to do and shopping. We also list events and update Osage attractions on TravelIowa.com, Iowa's largest and most-visited travel website. We also produce the print advertising that is distributed to welcome centers across Iowa. Advertising costs are expensive, but when you are a member of the Chamber, you're contributing to us to get people to come to Osage.
Can you imagine what would happen if all ad placement for Osage across the state of Iowa just disappeared? If there was no one there to wave the flag saying "Come to Osage!"? I don't want to think about that - because I think the results would be detrimental to our entire business community.
We could also talk a little bit about the community events the Chamber takes pride in organizing. Friday Nights Out, Holiday events, 4th of July parade, etc... Many of those events do not benefit the Chamber directly at all - but they are events that many would consider important to our community.
If we rely solely on chance that people will stumble upon our great little community, many businesses and industries will simply not survive. We need to give them reasons to come! So please, if you hear someone in the community that says "All the Chamber does is offer advertising" or "I don't see the value" - maybe this will help give a little bit more insight into what it is we do. Our Board of Directors and I are all so proud to serve in our roles for the Osage Chamber of Commerce because we really do believe in our mission.
I can't believe August is nearly over already! This month has been unusually cool, for August in Iowa. That's probably why I'm so pumped for the fall weather! This is my favorite time of year. We get to enjoy football once again, it's sweater weather, and the colors of our trees start changing! If you haven't heard, September is also a big month for events in our town:
We kick off September with our Downtown Farmers Market on September 2nd. If you haven't been down there, I would check it out. The vendors always bring a variety of items. This event is from 8 a.m. until noon.
Autumn Artistry is Saturday, September 16th. This is another reason fall is my favorite season - I always find some great buys at this event! They will also have the Farmers Market set up at the parking lot used for the Downtown Farmers Market. They'll have vendors both downtown and at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds, which is also where the Blacktop Cruisers 15th Annual Car Show will be taking place. Shuttle service will be available between the many locations to make getting around much easier!
The following weekend is the Cedar River Rendezvous hosted by the Conservation Education Foundation. This takes place at Mitchell County Conservation's headquarters just west of town on Hwy 9. They'll have a big swap meet, kids activities, food vendors, demonstrations and more. One thing I know I like about this is it has activities for kids - and is FREE admittance. This kicks off September 22nd and runs through the 24th.
98.7 KISS Country will be celebrating their 10th birthday by hosting a Barn Bash at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds on September 30th. Tickets to this event are $10 - they'll have a corn hole tournament, ladder golf, food & retail vendors as well as about 6 singer-songwriters for acoustic sessions that evening! You can purchase your tickets in advance at our office at the Chamber. If you're interested in entering a team for the corn hole tournament, call us at 732-3163.
Summertime is usually a busy time for anyone; it usually means vacations, ball games, summer camps and other activities for the kids. As an adult with a small child, (not quite 2; too small for most activities yet) my husband and I often find ourselves looking for summer activities to get us out of the house that we can do with our little girl.
We moved back to Osage last summer, beginning of June, right when Friday Nights Out were kicking off. My father had taken up a business as a vendor and Friday Nights Out were one of his gigs. While we had just relocated, I volunteered to help him out.
This was a time I realized how much I had missed being in Osage and how glad I was to be back. I looked around and saw a community that came together to support organizations that are imperative to our city. Sunny Brae and the Warhawks’ 4-H group provides beverages. Tropical Sno had plenty of cold treats to keep you cool – and there were mini donuts, a treat typically reserved for fairs & carnivals. The Osage Lions Club always has AMAZING dinner options such as pulled pork or turkey sandwiches.
You’ve probably seen the big bounce house and the kiddie train riding around City Park. The Jr. Roller Derby team has volunteered their time to monitor/operate both of those for us as they work to raise funds for their organization. Osage Community Daycare always brings a lot of games for kids of all ages to play which are always such a big hit.
The part I really take notice in, though – was our emergency personnel – Osage Fire and Police Departments – both coming out to provide games and truck rides for the kids. They don’t just show up, either – they come out and you can genuinely tell they enjoy providing the fun for the kids. This tells me exactly how lucky we are to live in a community whose members are so willing to volunteer their time to provide a fun night out for the whole family.
So, if you haven’t made it out yet – I highly recommend checking it out. For those who have, thank you – and I hope you continue to come out! The Osage Chamber of Commerce has been able to do this event because of these organizations in the community – and those who support it by coming out. Our next event is July 28th from 5:30 to 9:30 in City Park.
Summer is here! With that comes all of the activities and events Osage has to offer.
Summer Treasures Fest was just a few weeks ago, along with our first Downtown Farmers Market of the summer. We had nearly 20 vendors set up in the Art's Shoes and Home Trust Bank parking lots this year for Summer Treasures Fest! If you didn't have a chance to check out the Farmer's Market and would like to, they will be set up in the parking lot off 7th and State Streets the first Saturday of each month until September from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.
Independence Day will be here soon and all of the activities for people of all ages. The Osage Education Association is holding their annual On the Run for Education 5K & 1 mile run-walk at 7:30 on July 4th. 10 a.m. is when the parade will make its way through town. 11 a.m. will begin the 61st Annual Town & Country BBQ at the CRC Events Center. If you have children to entertain, from 12:30 - 2 p.m. there are FREE kids activities at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds. Extreme Bull Riding kicks off at 2:00 p.m., presented by the Mitchell County Rodeo Association.
Mitchell County Conservation Club has so many activities going on this summer - Project AWARE is kicking off July 10th through the 14th in effort to clean up the Cedar River. Also in July are their Discovery Day Camps. They will also be hosting a Stargazing event at the New Haven Potholes on August 12th which is a free event!
Something new and exciting for Osage this summer - Cedar Summerstock Theatre is bringing 4 performances to the Cedar River Complex! The first production is Jesus Christ Superstar and will run from June 29th through July 9th. Then they will present James and the Giant Peach July 13th through July 23rd, The Music Man July 27th through August 6th. The final performance will include the Best of Broadway Revue and will run August 10th through August 12th. You can get your tickets at www.cedarsummerstock.org.
There are many more events going on that I hope to blog about more throughout the summer - you can also follow us on facebook and twitter where we will be promoting a lot of these community events.