Area Development Commission continues looking at housing, workforce, child care opportunities for MP

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The Area Development Commission is staying the course focusing on their bread and butter this year: housing, workforce and child care.

During the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, March 20, Kristi Ray, Executive Vice President of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, reported on the progress the Area Development Commission has made in the past year.

Ray began by thanking supervisors for their investment as supporters and for always assigning a supervisor to sit on the board and contributing financially. Currently, Supervisor Gary See attends meetings.

Ray especially stressed the importance of focusing on expanding companies already in Mt. Pleasant, saying that in the last year, expansions have led to 95 new jobs in the area. This year, the Chamber worked on expansions at Hearth and Home Technologies, Innovairre, Lomont Molding and Beck?s.

?When you look at the top companies investing in this county, we are fortunate to have places like Wal-Mart Distribution here,? Ray added.

To continue this momentum, Ray said they have started a Welcome Aboard program for new CEO?s and management staff who move to town and are looking to get acclimated to the community. Ray said that the Chamber sends them to dinner with other people in town and they have the opportunity to just talk about their lives and connect and ask questions.

Another new program brought to the community this year is the Henry County Leadership program. Ray said that 15 area professionals are currently in the program going from town to town to learn about what makes them tick.

They have also visited schools in nearby counties ? Washington and Fairfield ? to introduce their students to manufacturing jobs available in Mt. Pleasant. ?We have 300 jobs that aren?t filled, and if we can get into the schools and let students know what manufacturing is not and what it is, we could draw them to the community,? Ray said.

Overall, the Area Development Commission is continuing to look at expansion opportunities. Ray said that just the other week she called Pancheros at the request of Iowa Wesleyan University?s president Steve Titus to see if they would be interested in opening a restaurant in the area.

When it comes to company requests like that, however, Ray says that it?s pure numbers and Pancheros wasn?t interested. ?If you don?t hit their threshold, they?re not coming,? Ray said, adding that she is pleased with Hibbits and The Dollar Tree opening branches in town last fall.

Ray said that when it comes to Mt. Pleasant?s need for housing, people to fill jobs in town and day care, she doesn?t think we?re different from other towns. Ray told supervisors that while she appreciates how Iowa values farm land, eventually, they will have to build a couple new subdivisions to fill the housing need.

When it comes to child care, Ray said they have a good lead on expanding day care options. ?We?ll see where it goes in the next year,? she said.

Surveying people in the community, the commission found that it?s the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workers who need more day care options. They originally thought it would be third shift employees looking for places for their children.

?Sometimes you just need the private sector to work it out,? Ray said, adding that opening a day care is not a business that will make a lot of money. ?You have to have somebody who is willing to do it out of the goodness of their heart and just hope they break even.?

In other news, supervisors approved a resolution to purchase a Western Star tandem dump truck from Midway Freightliner of Palmyria, Mo. For $144,48 for the Henry County Engineer. They also approved dust control providers for 2018.

Last week, territory operators were busy filling cracks on Franklin Ave., north of Trenton, cutting brush on 265th St. and 305th St., and installing riprap on Benton Ave. for erosion control. Operators also spent time near Salem cutting brush and hauling spot rock to various locations as they worked on erosion control.

Maintenance crews will be wrapping up crack filling on Franklin Ave. this week and will move on to J20 between Salem and Hillsboro.