It started last January with the announcement of becoming a Certified Connected Community (recognition of internet bandwidth and usage) and being announced as an Iowa Great Place. The arrival of spring brought recognition by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) as Iowa’s Small Business Community of the Year designation. The competition was open to all Iowa communities, large and small, and the inaugural award was given to Manning. Jayne Armstrong, SBA District Director, stated: “Every single community nominated deserves praise for creating economic development environments that help entrepreneurs start, build and grow their businesses. The selection process was very difficult, but in the end one community stood out — Manning… It represents everything that is good about Iowa — a sense of community, neighbors helping neighbors and a strong sense of pride in their hometown. That community spirit translates to its business environment. In an age of brain drain it is refreshing to see young entrepreneurs returning to their native Manning to start small businesses and raise their families… It is where everyone comes together to support small business…” In May, Main Street Iowa recognized Manning’s downtown revitalization with two awards. The community received an award for Best Total Renovation Project for Cliff’s Place and Best Façade Project for Deb’s Corner Café.
Father’s Day weekend in June brought a community wide celebration. Friday was highlighted by an All Alumni Reunion at the Hausbarn Konferenz Center and entertainment by two bands. Saturday brought the infamous Kinderfest Celebration with its children’s parade on Main Street and children’s events in City Park. Saturday night brought the 100th birthday celebration of the Main Street bricks. Two bands entertained the crowd of 1200 with Manning’s own Brad Morgan highlighting the event. The weekend also brought many small events: open houses by several businesses; recognition of our agricultural heritage and all businesses over 100 years old and an alumni track and field event. The weekend was a huge success and received the 2015 Iowa Tourism Award for Outstanding Event.
June also brought recognition at "The Preserve Iowa Summit" in which the Manning downtown revitalization was recognized with a 2015 Preservation At Its Best Award. The award, given by the statewide nonprofit organization Preservation Iowa, recognized Manning’s “outstanding work in preserving Iowa's historic infrastructures.” A forthcoming press release (soon to be issued) will highlight additional recognition for Manning’s historical downtown district!
It is highly unlikely to receive equal recognition in 2016. This year will be a year of transition on many fronts. That said, there are exciting plans in place for 2016 and they start out with a Drake University Startup Business Boot Camp for Women in Manning on January 16th and 30th. Additional 2016 plans will be the subject of my next column. Until then, Happy New Year to y’all!!