By John Hall, Chamber President & CEO
As my staff prodded me to sit down and write a year-end recap for 2021, I struggled with figuring out the best approach. Obviously, being new to this position in August makes it difficult to know and understand all that happened in this last year. However, as I sat and thought about my transition to this role, it really is indicative of the changes our organization addressed in the last year and what we see coming in early 2022.
Only one person on our team is in the same seat that they started in for 2021, and a few more changes are coming with regards to our team in 2022. In the last year, we chose to eliminate the Economic Development position and instead I retained those duties as President & CEO. This was done for two reasons; first, my background and expertise are economic development and second, we know that this is a major focus of our organization and the goals of the community into the future. This meant that many of the duties previously held by my position shifted to the rest of the team and they took it with great stride. In 2022 you can expect to see a couple of new faces on the team as well. We are just wrapping up the process of hiring a Workforce Development Coordinator that will replace the Economic Development position. The focus of this role will be based on supporting and growing our workforce locally through a multitude of strategies. Additionally, we will be bringing on a new Administrative Assistant as our current Office Assistant has taken a new position and will be leaving us just before the holidays. What this means is that our organization is trying to be cognizant of the challenges our business community is facing and we will be imploring new strategies and solutions to help address those issues.
We certainly can’t reflect on 2021 without recognizing and celebrating the fact that we were able to return to in-person events! I think that early in 2020 when the pandemic first began, we all enjoyed a brief moment of slow down, but as 2020 dragged on we all missed the company of one another. Well, this last year we were finally able to come back together and celebrate again. We look forward to continuing to expand our offerings and doing more in-person in 2022. But we certainly came through with some new skills from the pandemic so be on the lookout for more webinars and ways to engage remotely with information at your convenience.
As for the bulk of our 2022 efforts, look for our efforts to continue accelerating as we push our economy to be full steam ahead and begin building toward the future of Marshalltown. With all of our hotels expected to be returning to open early in the year, we expect tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels with hopefully some new events and activities choosing Marshalltown as their preferred location to host. Our conversations next year are going to be centered around workforce and how to improve our ability to attract more workforce into the future. Look for advancements in housing and retail efforts as elements of attracting new people. Downtown is going to have a major focus in 2022. Hopefully the deconstruction will be completed early in 2022 and we can lean into our redevelopment opportunities. Finally, we hope to find our new home next year. Since the derecho we have been operating in temporary office space. With the Marshalltown Arts & Civic Center (formerly Fisher Community Center) changing their focus, new space is on the docket for us. We will share more as that process unfolds for us, so stay tuned.
What is clear to my team, our board, and hopefully you as business leaders in our community is that we can put a mark in the sand today to show where we have been because in 2022 we aim to start taking incredibly large steps forward and building a Marshalltown that is bigger, stronger, and more inclusive for everyone.