by staff on February 12th, 2016

Enjoy the interview with Dr. Lee by viewing it on our YouTube Channel - simply click on the picture below! 

by Deb Brown on February 5th, 2016

Our first Blab.im interview is with Dan Ray, the General Manager at Webster City Auto Center.  You can watch it at ​https://youtu.be/nup0HB0PFL8 

by Deb Brown, Director on January 30th, 2016

​I like Brendan Hoffman.  He first traveled to Webster City in 2011 when he was covering the presidential elections in 2011. I met the young man when I first started as Chamber Director in 2013.  He was back on a visit recently, following the Clinton team.  Brendan was just published again by the New York Times and I’m a bit ticked off at them for leading their readers to believe that Webster City is leading a terrible life. (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/28/iowa-brendan-hoffman-factory-electrolux/?_r=0 )  But then, they do have papers to sell. For some particular reason, there’s this idea that slanting a story towards bad news or sad news will sell more papers. 

Here’s where I am going to disagree. People are pretty disgusted with always hearing the bad news. We can pick up those stories on Facebook, or in the rags while standing in line at the grocery store.  What if you actually just told the truth?  Why not share some facts, and then find the stories behind the facts?  Here, I’ll get you started.

Unemployment rates in Hamilton County (we are the county seat) are 3.8% as of November 2015.  That is the same as the state of Iowa.  New York’s is 5.7%.  We’ve also got jobs here.  Good paying jobs at that – visit Van Diest Supply and find multiple listings, with starting pay in the $17+ an hour range.  Vantec, Inc. is hiring.  So is Webster City Custom Meats.  The list goes on.  There is work here. 

There is also opportunity here.  We have room for entrepreneurs as well.  We host events like EntreBash where we partner with groups like Wright Hamilton Entrepreneurial Network and find ways for people to start their own businesses.  Small Business Development Centers are part of the SBA and they assist, at no charge, and help entrepreneurs as well.  There are building owners that have put their buildings into the Incubator Project and are willing to ​rent their buildings at reduced rates to help people get started.  
​Now let’s talk about what has happened in town since Electrolux left.   Remember, we’re a town of about 8,000 people. 
New businesses in town:
Prime Life LLC
 bought an empty building and specializes in total hormone balancing, stress management, preventive medicine, and the management of chronic medical conditions.
Mind and Body Clinic utilizes both traditional and complimentary therapies, with a focus on psychiatric medicine and osteopathic manipulation.  They use space in the Prime Life facility.
Neighbors Heating and Cooling bought the Chalfant Plumbing building and business. 
Victoria’s Bubble Tea was open for a year and rented space from Al the barber.  She is no longer in business.
Iglesia Del Dios Pentecostal bought an empty building that was once rented by Public Health.  They are a Hispanic church and active in the chamber as well.
Crispy Eggroll is renting an empty building and serves Asian, Vietnamese and Thai food.
VeroBlue Farms is capturing the opportunity to become the largest onshore, indoor facility of its kind in North America. Through its Iowa's First Hub located in Webster City Iowa, VBF is expanding its production of the Barramundi fish species through a new urban farm with approximately 7.2 million pounds of production. They have already purchased one of the old Electrolux buildings and are converting it to grow fish. 
La Perla Jarocha Restaurant is an offshoot of their grocery store and serves traditional Mexican food.  They rent an empty building until their restaurant facility will be ready in the next year or so.
InTANDEM Workspace is a community of like-minded professionals who want a different kind of place to work.  Located in one building, coworking is becoming the norm for many people. 
Chicago Styles is a clothing store for hip, young people owned by a local Hispanic family.  The Laotian Grocery Store is new to the community and features Laotian food stuffs.
El Benedicion Mexican Grocery Store is right next door and offers food and other services like phone cards as well.
The Webster Movie Theater reopened under HERO ownership.  HERO is a nonprofit organization (Help Entertain and Restore Organization) that raised over $200,000 in a years’ time to save the movie theater and install new digital equipment. 
SOS Vintage came to town to look at the Incubator Project and ended up buying their own building and opening up a store where people come from all over to shop. 
Relax the Bath and TiDe Creations are two entrepreneurs who sell their products in SOS Vintage and bring originality to our community in a unique way.  Soaps made for the gods and hand crafted leather items you can’t find anymore – niche markets that people are looking for.
Stein Heating and Cooling moved from the country into town and we’re happy to have them here.
Shopko Hometown found us because we are ideally located along Highway 20, and we’re their market. 
Marlies Garage is a local young man and his wife who branched out on their own and fixes cars and does alignments and believes in working in their own hometown.
Maid-Rite serves the traditional sandwiches and other sandwiches, breakfasts and goodies as well.  Also located along Highway 20 and locally owned. 
Other expansions, new owners and moves in the last few years:
Interior Spaces
 bought Classic Carpet and Interiors – they are full service interior decorator business.
Thrifty White moved to 2nd Street and Broadway. 
Maharry Dental is scheduled to open this spring in a larger, new building.
Webster City Community Theatre has completed their expansion. 
Van Diest Supply Company continues to expand.
WCF Financial Bank has moved to a new building in a new location. 
Splash Graphics expanded their business to Webster City.
Future of Health Massage moved to a new location.
Lucinda Stone started Therapeutic Life Center of Massage College.  
Leah Feltz Fitness and Magers Martial Arts now have classes here in town. 
New Horizons Travel and The Computer Guy, two new businesses in town, are in the coworking space. 
P and P Electric has expanded.
Storm Flying Service has new owners. 
I’m sure I’ve missed some too – and to those people I apologize.  It’s exciting to see all this growth!

Brendan did say “The town has not shriveled up, which is amazing.”  I just wonder why he thinks that is so amazing.  We are not quitters.  One factory leaving doesn’t stop a town like Webster City.  

by staff on June 10th, 2015

​WCF Financial Bank and the Webster City Community School District closed on the property located at 820 Des Moines Street, Webster City, on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, which will house the new Webster City Community School District Administration offices beginning this fall. As part of the sale of the building, WCF Financial Bank provided a $260,000 gift to the school.

Pictured are WCF Financial Bank staff along with Pam Hayes, Webster City Community School Board President, and Stephen Mourlam, WCF Financial Bank President/CEO, as they present the Webster City Community School District with their gift. Behind Hayes is Mike Sherwood, Superintendent of the Webster City Community School District.

by staff on May 18th, 2015

The Help Entertain and Restore Organization (HERO) board announces the next opportunity for interested businesses and individuals to support the Webster Theater.  An auditorium redecorating project, including new seats, is being planned for early fall.

“Our initial focus was on getting everything we needed to re-open the theater,” stated HERO board founding member and president Jeffrey Pingel. “We’ve wanted to update the auditorium seating since the start of our project, but other items were necessary first.”

The Webster Theater opened Friday, September 19, 2014, with state of the art Barco digital projection, 7.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, and RealD 3D capabilities. The existing auditorium seats were professionally cleaned; however, they were also installed in the 70’s.
“We appreciate the initial backers who raised $93,000 by sponsoring the existing auditorium seats,” said Kay Ross, HERO board member and fundraising chair. “And those name plates will be installed on the new seats to honor those contributions. But as anyone who has been to a movie in the last year knows, new seats are desperately needed.” 

The cost to replace the old seats is about $60,000. HERO has saved $25,000 over the last six months to begin funding the project, leaving $35,000 left to raise.

Donors who give at least $300 toward the project will receive a star on the lobby wall. Larger stars are available for bigger contributions, as well as recognition on the outdoor sponsor signs. Popcorn buckets, with free refills through the end of 2016 will once again be offered for sale.

The new rocker-style seats were selected with comfort and sustainability in mind: Each seat is wider and sits higher than the existing ones. They are sturdy and can be wiped clean. Aisle lighting and seat numbering are integrated into the design.

“These new seats are easy to sit down in and stand up from,” said founding board member Deb Brown.  “We’ve heard from many people that we need seats that are easier to use and that more people can fit into” Brown continued.

The plan also calls for more room between rows. To accomplish this, about 50 seats will be eliminated. The revised layout shows 250 seats, room for two additional wheelchair spaces, and 8 specially-designed aisle seats that provide easy accessibility via flip-up armrests.
“So about fifty of our existing seat sponsors will have their seat plaques converted to stars, which we will add to our lobby walls,” said board member Kay Ross. “To make the process sure and certain, there is only one way to get on the conversion list, and that is to stop by the box office in person during normal operating hours, and ask to have your plaque converted to a star. A numbered list will be maintained at the box office, and names will be added on a first come, first served basis. We will not be accepting requests any other way.”

Kevin Rubash of Interior Spaces selected the color and finishes for the updated seating. He will be selecting fresh paint colors for the auditorium, and Michael Willson of Willson Painting will be donating his time to repaint the room. New aisle runners will also be installed.

“We have a sample of the proposed seats on display in the theater lobby,” said theater manager, Keri Holmes Rojas. “So the next time you come for a movie, be sure to take the opportunity, and experience it.”

“In keeping with our commitment to do business as close to home as possible, we are sourcing this project through Iowa Direct Equipment in Cedar Falls. The seats will be manufactured in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Irwin Seating Company,” continued Rojas.

The public is encouraged to watch for announcements of fund-raising activities as the project gets started. Follow the Webster Theater on Facebook at facebook.com/thewebstertheater or online at webstertheater.org.

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