This Week in the Corridor
A major opportunity to invest in our people and our businesses
Most of us involved in business leadership agree that our people are our greatest asset. We also recognize that investing in our people with meaningful professional development often gets lost in the busy-busy-busy nature of daily operations. We spend so much time working IN our businesses that we fail to work ON them often enough to build on what we are doing right and to correct what we are doing wrong.

As we practice social distancing and face broad economic restrictions on business activities due to COVID-19, we have a opportunity to invest in our people and our businesses. In particular, for businesses forced to curtail or stop operations that can retain or re-hire staff via the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), business leaders can take this opportunity to ensure that as we begin to ease these restrictions and restart the economy that our businesses are better positioned to grow and prosper.

Why re-hire employees with PPP funding when “you don’t need them yet?” So you can invest in them and in your business!

Many Corridor businesses have a choice to make – (1) do I keep my former employees on furlough drawing unemployment, or (2) do I hire them back using the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)? Many furloughed employees have voiced that they would prefer to stay on unemployment because they actually make MORE money on unemployment than if we were to hire them back. As business owners, we are tempted to leave them on unemployment because we can’t re-open yet so what would they all do? We can only do so much cleaning and painting…

With PPP, we have a unique opportunity to make unprecedented investments in training and innovation that will improve our employees and our companies. While PPP funds cannot be spent on the training, the most expensive part of the training – the wages and salaries of participants – is covered by PPP for up to 8 weeks.

Invest in and improve our people
  • Customer Service Training
  • Sales Training
  • Safety Training
  • Writing skill development
  • Speaking skill development
  • Team building
  • Leadership development
  • Agile development practices

Invest in and improve our businesses
  • Identify new products to sell
  • Identify new services to sell
  • Identify new channels to market
  • Create better ways to explain how we stand out from our competitors
  • Update operations & employment manuals
  • Design and implement website improvements – scheduling services, selling products, accepting payments

How? Our path forward can be simple or elaborate. We can:
  • Form a book club – pick a book / audiobook for our employees to read / listen to, and then we can facilitate a discussion on what was learned
  • Utilize online training to develop individuals and teams
  • Form task-driven small groups to target innovation; challenge each team with a specific task or set of tasks, provide them resources (money, access to experts and video-conferencing communication tools like Zoom) and have them build out a path forward to accomplish the task(s)

Next week, Brian will describe seven key steps to build out and update a training program. Or, if you can't wait, visit our website.
Corridor banks provide $110 million plus in recovery loans
The COVID-19 pandemic has once again demonstrated the strength of the Iowa Lakes Corridor banking industry.

A preliminary review of local participation in the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), created to keep businesses solvent and employees on the payroll during the crisis, shows that eight Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation member banks issued more than 860 loans to businesses in Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties. These loans brought greater than $110 million into the region. The average loan size was $127,462.

An additional 6 Corridor member banks did not report their PPP results.

Iowa ranked sixth overall in the nation in percentage of successful PPP applications, with 29,424 PPP loans distributed overall.

The Corridor is proud to have strong support from the regional banking industry. Banks that are members of the Corridor are: Bank Midwest, Bank Plus, Central Bank, Community State Bank, Farmers Trust & Savings Bank, Farmers Savings Bank, Home State Bank, NorthStar Bank, Northwest Bank, Security Trust & Savings Bank, State Bank (Spencer), The State Bank (Spirit Lake), United Bank of Iowa, and US Bank.
Board Nominations
The following individuals have been nominated for the Corridor Board of Directors:

  • Buena Vista County
  • At-large – Jeaneth Ibarra, Tyson Foods, three-year term ending June 30, 2023
  • Clay County
  • At-large – Doug Benjamin, Northwest Bank, three-year term ending June 30, 2023
  • Dickinson County
  • At-large – Michael McKim, Safco, three-year term ending June 30, 2023
  • Emmet County
  • At-large – Edwin Waleh, Heartland Cybersecurity, three-year term ending June 30, 2023

Additional names of candidates for directors can be nominated by petition bearing the genuine signature of at least 20 qualified members of the Corridor. Petitions must be filed via email by April 26, 2020
Featured Real Estate
Site: 4th Avenue West

Location: 4th Avenue West
Spencer, IA 51301
11 acres

Sale Price: $390,000
(in three parcels)

For more information visit the Corridor website!
This Week in the Corridor
Iowa 3rd in country for 2020 Census self-response

Not far behind Wisconsin and Minnesota, Iowa is currently ranked 3rd in the country based on self-response rate for the 2020 Census. Iowa Lakes Corridor counties are ranked at 31st (Buena Vista), 70th (Clay), 75th (Emmet), and 99th (Dickinson) out of all counties in Iowa.

Check out more information on the 2020 Census.
Spencer Chamber's 2nd weekly business forum focuses on resources

The Spencer Chamber is hosting weekly business forums to discuss resources and answer questions about COVID-19 relief programs. Corridor Senior Vice President Brian Dalziel participates in these forums as well as other business leaders in the area.

$15,000 allocated to Emmet County Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund

The Emmet County Community Foundation has allocated a part of its 2020 discretionary grant funding to the Emmet County COVID-19 Disaster Response Fund to provide a flexible, responsive funding source in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on Emmet County.

Read more about the grant and how to make a gift to the fund.
Okoboji Foundation Youth in Philanthropy program awards grants

The Okoboji Foundation's Youth in Philanthropy program has awarded just over $66,000 in grants to six area projects. The projects include water quality, COVID-19 recovery, trail improvements and more. This year's program set a record with the money they raised.

Learn more about this year's program.
Investor Spotlight
Each week we want to feature and thank the businesses and individuals that have committed to economic development and growth in our communities. To learn more about these investors and others, visit our  Business Directory!
Clay County
Sector: Cities & Counties
Description: Experience all Clay County has to offer. All you could hope for in the way of things to do are right here. Museums, theaters, sports, shopping, dining, hunting, canoeing, fishing and pedaling on the bike trails. Recreational opportunities abound in Clay County and the year-round array of entertainment will amaze you!
Clay County Fair & Regional Events Center
Sector: Business Services/Other
Location: Spencer
Description: The Clay County Regional Events Center opened its doors on November 15, 2003 and makes its home at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Spencer Iowa. The Events Center is ideal for all types of conventions, meetings, corporate parties, trade shows, and entertainment events.
Jobs in the Iowa Lakes Corridor
Post your jobs where quality candidates are already looking:

See current job openings here.
Job Title
Preschool Teacher's Aid

Gutter Installer
First English Christian
Custom Cut Gutters

Questions? Want to be featured in next week's newsletter?
Contact the Iowa Lakes Corridor at ,
or call us at 712.264.3474.