Celebrating National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

Today, March 29 is a day to celebrate all the hard-working small business owners and their achievements. Small businesses are important to any community and its essential for these businesses to grow and thrive in order to create jobs and culture in small communities across the state, and country.

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day began with Rick Segal whose parents first opened a hat shop called Ruth’s in Everette, Massachusetts on March 29, 1939. This store eventually grew into a specialty-clothing store for women spanning 10,000 square feet before it closed in 1997. Segal created the day to honor his parents’ hard work and success as a small business.

Without the owners behind mom and pop businesses, the United States would be much different. These small businesses are the foundation our country is built on and contribute to job growth and economic development. Did you know more than 90 percent of all business enterprises in the United States are family-owned or privately held?

The story is no different here in Iowa! Take the Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm for example. Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm is located in Southeast Iowa near Burlington and is owned by Henry and Barb Bohlen. The Bohlen family has owned the farm for about 25 years. The elk meat from their farm is served at a number of restaurants in the area, including The Drake and The Broadway Café, Bar and Grill. If you’re at Great Rivers Medical Center, stop by the cafeteria. They always have Wildlife elk meat on the menu!

Not from Southeast Iowa? No worries! You can find Wildlife elk meat in restaurants in Iowa City, Coralville, and Johnston, Iowa, as well as 20 convenience stores across the state. More of an online shopper? Order through their website here.

You can also purchase the elk meat at the farm. Don’t forget to get a tour while you’re there! They give about 10-12 major tours a year. Not only do you know that you’re purchasing natural elk meat, but you’re also supporting a local business, which brings money into the community, and in turn, enhances the economy.

Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns three times more money to your local economy than one spent at a chain. In celebration of the day, stop by your local mom and pop shop to buy your favorite sandwich, coffee, or clothing item, and know that you will be supporting not only their family but also your local community!

Is there a business you would like us to feature? Shoot us an email at info@restoringiowajobs.org.

Until next time!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team



Celebrate Library Lovers Day: Recognizing Public Libraries’ Economic Impact

Did you know public libraries contribute to economic development and strengthen their community’s quality of life? There are 544 libraries in Iowa that serve a municipal population of 2,340,220.

In honor of Library Lovers Day, we wanted to highlight the benefits public libraries offer to their communities. Beyond providing books, public libraries create a sense of community, as well as provide access to technology, and are an important and dynamic part of the community’s learning infrastructure.

With the accessibility to public computers, Internet, and media products in public libraries, people can more easily run a small business, do research online, or search for and apply to jobs.

Public libraries across the state offer resources to better the community and in turn, often make an economic impact. Small business resources and training and technology programs at the library are lowering the barriers to learning. Researchers found that when libraries work with local and state agencies to provide business development workshops and research, market entry costs to prospective and existing small businesses are reduced and new jobs are created. 

Locally, the Burlington Public Library offers a variety of resources to benefit the community. For example, the library offers free resources and services, including a job center and research tools for job seekers, employers, and small business owners. With one-on-one assistance, the library is able to provide individuals with the technology and skills needed to compete in today’s job market.

Many public libraries also benefit from partnering with local businesses. In the fall of 2012, local musician William Elliot Whitmore and the Donnellson Public Library teamed up on a match-donation program. The donations from the event went to the library to fund renovations to the building. In coordination with this program, Iowa Fertilizer made a match donation for the ticket sales. This event was a huge success for the community, with more that $380,000 raised for the project to date.

Southeast Iowa is lucky to have multiple public libraries in the area working to better the community by providing resources to enhance the economy and job growth in the area. Click here to find a public library in your area.

Until Next Time!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team


World Teachers’ Day – Honoring those who inspire for a brighter tomorrow

World Teachers' Day

World Teachers’ Day was created to honor and inspire for a brighter tomorrow. Today, teachers all over the world are being celebrated and we couldn’t be prouder of what our teachers in Iowa are doing to better the education of students in the area.

Iowa is nationally recognized for top quality K-12 public education system, world-class colleges and universities, and customized vocational and technical training programs through an extensive community college network.

Iowa has a high school graduation rate of 93.4 percent and Iowa students continue to outscore their peers on standardized tests. We could not reach these numbers without the hard work our teachers put in to educate our students.

Thanks to the motivated teachers in Iowa, our students will be experienced and successful once they hit the job market. In Lee County alone, almost 90 percent of residents are employed full or part-time.

As you head to class this week or pick your child up from school, take the time to let a teacher know how much you care about the work they are putting in to help Iowans succeed!

Happy #WorldTeachersDay!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team


Growing Lee County


Located in the farthest southeast corner of Iowa, Lee County is not one to overlook. Within a short time, the county has seen significant growth and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Renewable energy, agribusiness, manufacturing, and biotechnology are just a few of the county’s top industries that have seen significant economic growth in recent months. The construction of Iowa Fertilizer is just one great example of the vast economic impact that the region has recently seen. Since the project began in 2012, economic activity has increased as a result of the 2,900 construction workers brought on site to build the plant. Hotels, restaurants, and real estate numbers have risen due to the increased number of people in the region. With this as well as other projects in the area, Lee County’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.4 percent to 5.9 percent by the end of January 2015.

Lee County Economic Development Group is working feverishly in other ways to continue growth, such as this, and further grow the area’s businesses and workforce. Most recently, our team launched Grow Lee, a new initiative aimed at providing resources to expand STEM education, adult education programs, and provide essential resources for Lee County businesses. Our group also has launched the Lee County 2018 Capital Campaign. This initiative spans five years and hopes to grow development in multiple areas including, workforce attraction and workforce development, business expansion and retention, new business attraction, and economic development marketing. With the $1.3 million dollars raised for the program, our group will focus the majority of the funds on workforce development and business retention and expansion programs.

As we look ahead, Lee County EDG is calling 2015 the Year of Action and is excited to continue to make progress for these new initiatives, as well as assist the region’s businesses, workforce, and overall economic growth and development. Be sure to mark these upcoming events on your calendar to get involved in helping to grow Lee County.

·      Talent for Today and Tomorrow Breakfast – Up Training Existing Workforce

Wednesday, April 15

7:30 – 8:30 am

Lake Cooper Event Center, Keokuk

·      Young Professionals Meet and Greet Social

Wednesday, April 22

5:30 pm

Sidelines Sports Bar, Fort Madison

·      Southeast Iowa STEM Festival

Saturday, April 25

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

SCC West Burlington Campus, Register to exhibit today!

Lee County EDG, in concert with our partners, are making an impact in Southeast Iowa. To find out more about upcoming opportunities and how you can get involved contact Lee County EDG at dklesner@leecountyedg.com.

Dana Klesner, Marketing and Communications Manager

Lee County Economic Development Group