By Andrew Potter
As someone who is in charge of helping promote local events in Marshalltown, the momentum we have here lately is encouraging.
That momentum is evident as our Community Calendar continues to populate with an array of events, from live music, to festivals and community events.
There’s also been growth in our sports tournaments in Marshalltown and our central location in Iowa helps us attract athletes from all corners of the state. So you can expect to see competitors from across the state in tennis, disc golf, youth track, adult softball and more in town this summer. Many of these tournaments are hosted by local volunteers who give of their time to host events that happen to provide a big boost to Marshalltown’s economy.
Visitors to these tournaments help support our town’s amenities – those same amenities which are enjoyed by our residents year-round.
The 13th Street District announced recently its Harvest Market headlining act will be the fun-loving, party band The Pork Tornadoes on September 9. This band has a huge following and brings its “A” game to every show.
There’s also quite a bit of buzz around the lineup for the Live and Local concert series this year at the Grimes Farm Amphitheater. All of these events are in addition to the yearly staples in town such as the Central Iowa Fair, Fourth of July, Oktemberfest, Holiday Stroll and more.
There’s some great post-pandemic momentum for meetings, tournaments, music and more. It’s going to be an exciting year in Marshalltown.
Want to stay on top of upcoming events?
Erin McGregor of McGregors Furniture and Mattress is the recipient of the 2022 Woman in Business Award from the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce. Pictured with Erin is award presenter Todd Steinkamp of Trending Media, left, and Chamber President and CEO John Hall.
Join the Chamber and Presenting sponsor Emerson for the 4th Annual Women in Business Luncheon. This year’s luncheon will take place on Friday, March 25, 2022 at the newly renovated Iowa Valley Continuing Education, Dejardin Hall starting at 11:30 a.m. The event will include lunch and a keynote presentation from Representative Shannon Latham.
Representative Latham is a businesswoman, mother, and community leader. Latham is an advocate for small business and Main Street America.
Latham is vice president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds and is primarily
responsible for its marketing efforts. She has a passion for writing,
branding and communicating through social media. Prior to joining
the family business full-time in January 2007, Shannon operated
her own communications/public relations business for three years.
She also worked for six years as an account executive and public relations specialist for The Meyocks Group. Her most notable projects were the groundbreaking and grand opening of Jorden Creek Town Center in West Des Moines.
Other previous work experience includes serving as an agricultural program coordinator for the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship where she did public relations for the Beginning Farmer Loan Program and coordinated the Iowa Agricultural Youth Institute (IAYI). She also served as director of legislative affairs for the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and coordinated its grassroots lobbying efforts. Shannon earned an MBA from the University of Iowa, as well as a bachelor’s degree with a double-major in Ag Journalism and Public Service & Administration in Agriculture from Iowa State University.
Shannon and her husband live with their two children in Sheffield, Iowa, where she has served as a Girl Scout leader for 11 years and also operates Enchanted Acres Pumpkin Patch. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading and traveling.
Registration required. To register, visit www.marshalltown.org/womeninbusiness. Cost is $30 per person or $180 for 6 registrations.
Farmers Savings Bank
By John Hall, Chamber President & CEO
Watching on social media, you would believe that the Marshalltown retail landscape is collapsing and falling apart around us, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s true that over the last couple of weeks we have seen surprise closures from Papa Murphy’s and Bath & Body Works. While it’s never fun to lose national retailers, both of them had their reasons and struggled to maintain success in our market. When Papa Murphy’s first opened in our market, Hy-Vee had not begun doing take-and-bake pizzas, now directly competing. Or consider channeling those pizza dollars to our locally owned pizza places!
Bath & Body Works was the last national retailer in our mall with internal entry. This was bound to happen as that brand figures out how to operate in a world with fewer and fewer viable malls. During this same time, we have a new home-décor and clothing boutique in downtown, Real Deals, a new game store at the mall, Game Haven, and a new national chain with local ownership to buy coffee, Scooters. While the success of these businesses has yet to be realized, the value of having businesses with local ownership cannot be understated.
As we look at the retail landscape in Marshalltown since 2010, it’s clear that we have fewer physical store locations in town than a decade ago by nearly 100. During that same period, retail sales tax dollars and spending per capita have increased. This means people have more money to spend on retail and restaurants, but they are putting more and more of those resources into purchasing online. If we want to see a resurgence in our local retail, we need to see people choosing to spend their dollars locally when available. From our end we are doing what we can to spur additional retail and restaurant options through our Retail Incentive Grant. This grant awards up to $25,000 to individuals looking to open up shop here in Marshalltown. All three of the new businesses mentioned earlier are recipients of that award.
Another aspect of our retail efforts is to connect and build relationships with national brands. We have joined as a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and I had the chance to attend their annual conference in December. This is a great way to not only see what up-and-coming brands exist, but almost all of the regional representatives are available at this conference. We were fortunate to speak with roughly 18 different national brands that have varying levels of interest in our market. Our task is to then find or build available space, which is in the works. I was also fortunate to connect with the new ownership of the Marshalltown Mall. While we both agreed that things aren’t where we want them to be, we now have some ideas moving forward that may transform the space radically from where it is at. Stay tuned.
Finally, to mention retail and not mention the restoration expected to begin this year in downtown would be a disservice. We firmly believe that by bringing about building restoration and making new retail and restaurant space available in downtown, that we will be able to attract new, vibrant businesses to our community. We are in discussions with a consultant who has this exact experience and know-how to help us achieve and realize our revitalization dream.
So, while the retail landscape may feel bleak some days, know that we are working hard to bring strong opportunities to our community. Whether it be large national chains, or small mom & pop startups, we are bullish on our market and what the residents of Marshalltown, Marshall County, and the surrounding areas can and will support. All in an effort to grow and expand our community, for we believe that “if we build it, they will come.”
There I was bobbing my head, rocking out to a cover band playing Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and I thought to myself “I’m so glad Oktemberfest is back!”
Many in our community thought the same way as 2021 ended and Marshalltown got back up and running with grand scale events. The year ended with a string of successful community events as we look forward to even more momentum in 2022.
The most recent big-scale successful event was the Holiday Stroll, which my family thoroughly enjoyed. I heard from several people who indicated it was one of the best Holiday Strolls ever.
Mother Nature had a hand in that as the ideal weather allowed for many to spend time outside mingling both before and after the lighted parade as well as led to more meandering through the downtown shops.
This came on the heels of Oktemberfest, which had some rocking bands, a great parade and other awesome community events as part of our town’s annual fall festival.
There was definitely a thirst for these community events after the pandemic cancelled the 2020 Oktemberfest and Holiday Stroll.
Let’s not forget that 2021 brought us the biggest fireworks show the Fourth of July has ever seen in Marshalltown. How cool was that?
I was also encouraged earlier this year when a Cultural Fiesta was held, which was a great way to celebrate our rich diversity in Marshalltown. Many will recall the annual Hispanic Heritage Festival years ago and here’s hoping that this Cultural Fiesta will return in the future.
Don’t look now, but Marshalltown has some really good momentum going on heading into 2022. The addition of 16 murals to Marshalltown in 2021 didn’t hurt either.
Imagine the walkability of downtown being bolstered by these murals and look for even more positive things happening in Marshalltown in the future.
Our tremendous city leaders will have it no other way.
Want to be prepared for upcoming events in 2022? Get on the distribution list of the weekly email events newsletter “This Week in Marshalltown” by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great holiday season Marshalltown and we will see you in 2022!
Andrew Potter is tourism director with the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce.