In the Know – “Community Collaboration”

Image Right: With a backdrop of full bourbon barrels in the Revelton Rackhouse, Christi Taylor, Iowa Economic Development Authority Director, Debi Durham, Rob Taylor and Iowa Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages Administrator, Stephen Larson stopped for a photo. 

Community collaboration was the prominent Osceola Chamber-Main Street theme for the last week in August. Although OCMS constantly encourages feedback, questions and suggestions about events, projects, grants, etc., last week brought opportunities for larger and more diverse groups to come together. 

 The first gathering was hosted by Rob and Christi Taylor, owners of Revelton Distilling Company and their staff who invited a host of city, county and state leaders: OCMS Director, Ashleigh Eckels and OCMS Board Members, Paula McLaflin and Jan Rychnovsky; City Manager Ty Wheeler, and Osceola City Council Members, Dan Hooper and Missy Cline; Bill Tricky, Director-Clarke Development Corporation; Police Chief, Marty Duffus; Fire Chief, Byron Jimmerson; and Clarke County Supervisor, Austin Taylor, were present to meet with Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Director/Iowa finance Authority Director, Debi Durham; Amy Zeigler, Manager, Iowa Tourism; Administrator, Steve Larson, and Stephanie Strauss, Executive Officer leading the Government Affairs Program for the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission and Iowa Representative Amy Sinclair.

The purpose of the meeting was to share information about expanding tourism, economic development and ambiance in Osceola and Clarke County. Discussion focused on city planning, housing additions, and how to tap into resources to bring people off the Interstate to Revelton, and into Osceola for a complete experience. Rob and Christi shared their vision to expand and further develop the area around Revelton.

Durham acknowledged Covid created havoc for all businesses, but the shutdowns gave the IEDA Team a chance to really evaluate what Iowa has to offer in terms of growth opportunities for business development, tourism, and housing. They compiled statistics on what was available and to better understand where the holes and opportunities exist.

After touring the facilities and hearing the Revelton story, she expressed enthusiasm for what the Taylors’ have built and began a dialogue about all the possibilities for economic growth through tourism for the area. She said it’s all about experiences: outdoor activities, shopping, and dining are especially important in drawing tourism. Wheeler summarized infrastructure plans, new housing, and his interest to build more bike/hiking trails.

Amy Zeigler agreed with Wheeler, citing the extensive bike trail system connecting the Des Moines area to surrounding towns and asked about possibilities of linking the distillery area to Osceola’s downtown and beyond, “Statistics show that for every one-hour people drive to an event/community, they will spend four hours experiencing/exploring amenities.”

Larson explained the positive impact of the recent changes in distilling rules (Senate File 2374) and how much distilleries could expand production. Rob emphasized this topic as Revelton will need more land to build rack houses. Larson also noted that Revelton is the only distillery on the Interstate, which offers infinite possibilities for expansion and tourism in the area.

Rob, Christi, and the Revelton Staff were encouraged with the discussion and ideas brought forth, “Overall, anytime we can get community leaders, state leaders and other stakeholders under one roof to discuss the possibilities, it’s a good day…I think moving forward, it’s important that our community and business leaders and state leaders meet regularly…there are many resources out there to tap.”- Rob Taylor

After the meeting, the Des Moines visitors drove through the downtown area to get a snapshot of the district to hopefully, offer more suggestions for future discussions.

Later in the day, Ashleigh and the OCMS Board hosted Wheeler and the City Council members for an informational meeting about the OCMS proposed 25th Anniversary project of lighting in the downtown and downtown corridors. Ashleigh had prepared a presentation and explained the vision of tackling the project in stages, beginning with the courtyard. 

After questions were addressed and discussion, City Council members were asked for a resolution supporting the project and applying for the Rural Vitality Grant. After more discussion, the resolution passed.

The second part of the meeting was based on the packet of statistics and presentation Ashleigh prepared concerning a need for a second full time person at OCMS. As Osceola has grown and surpassed the population threshold for Main Street staff requirements, the need for additional staff became more apparent.

Ashleigh’s presentation included statistics about building projects and investments/reinvestments, event information including estimated combined attendance and volunteers’ hours, community profile, and the impact of property improvements on assessed value (tax base). After questions and discussion, the council asked for a written job description to allow for further discussion.

“This was definitely one of the best collaborative meetings we have had.”-OCMS Board Member and downtown business owner, Paula McLaflin.

The last group meeting for the week was OCMS staff with downtown business owners/representatives. Ashleigh invited all of them to OCMS Friday AM to solicit feedback from them and participants about OCMS organized events and to brainstorm ideas for upcoming activities, including Trunk or Treat, Annual Wine Walk and Holiday Brilliance.

One suggestion was moving the “Osceola Experience” to September to kick-off the fall season. Long time business owner Ronda Audlehelm-Flowers ‘N More, thought it was a good group session, “I arrived in time for a brainstorming session for Holiday Brilliance, but we also talked about a Halloween Promotion to do on top of Trunk or Treat…”

SalonRed owner, Laura Langholz said the group brainstormed several ideas to streamline events, “[we discussed] various scenarios of combining activities to create a Fall Festival and/or a Winter Fest, or leaving them as is. For the Fourth of July we discussed, adding more activities on the square and moving the parade start to 10:30…all-in-all, it was a great meeting with lots of lovely ideas to combine biz and community activities.”

Mark your Calendars for these OCMS Events

Trunk or Treat: October 31st on the courtyard

Wine Walk: November 4th

Business Buzz

Do you have a business idea? Would you like to be an entrepreneur or combine resources with others to start a business? Contact Osceola Chamber-Main Street to learn about available resources! 

Revelton Distilling Live Music

Sept. 17 @ 4PM- Rick Burke

Sept. 24 @ 4PM-Liquid Sunshine

The pop-up bakery event at Your Sweet Pickins Venue was so successful that Robin has posted another date, October 1st.

Story Courtesy of the Osceola Chamber. Click here to view the original story on the Chamber’s website.

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Honey Vodka

Revelton Honey Vodka is a unique blend of vodka with a true sense of southern Iowa honey. Along with a palate of wonderful honey sweetness and mouthfeel, this vodka delivers a beautiful wildflower aroma one would expect from harvested honey. Its soft finish and subtle touches of vanilla and citrus make this a superb, versatile spirit.


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