Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Even with the hot temperatures experienced this week it is starting to somewhat feel like fall is in the air…the days are getting much shorter, kids are in school, the crops have begun to turn and football is in full swing. The car show this weekend is another signal that autumn has arrived. The annual classic auto extravaganza is always a huge weekend for our community…an event which takes the efforts of many volunteers to plan and also to prepare the community for all the company we will host the next couple of days.
 
The forecast the next couple of days is extremely frustrating but having farmed many years I can testify predictions don’t always fill in as expected…I hope they are wrong this time. I’m optimistic for a great weekend but will admit we haven’t caught too many breaks with the weather all summer…beginning as far back as last February when the wet spring and freezing and thawing began deteriorating our county roads. Plantings were late because of wet weather and hence harvest is now late too. Cherry and I hardly watered flowers all summer…it seemed it rained every week! Still…I hope we have a great weekend with cars and guests. Let’s party like its 1960…it will feel like it on Main Street Saturday evening!!
 
Day on the Job (DOJ):
 
Another annual fall event was this week – Senior Day on the Job…except there were changes this year. This year the event included the high school Juniors too. We’ve recognized for several years many seniors have already made decisions regarding what they will pursue after graduation…the event is designed to give students a look into the plethora of careers and potential jobs we have locally. It seems logical it should be an event for Juniors instead of Seniors…going forward it will be Junior Day on the Job. It is an opportunity to say to students we hope you consider Ottawa as a place to make your career and raise a family. We know many will go to college or school away from here…make friends, meet future spouses and delve into life’s work. But we want them to know they are welcome to return…and if they do there will be a career here for them as well.
 
Additionally many of our graduates will immediately pursue life work here upon graduation…we want to make sure they know what is available locally. This is another event which takes many volunteers to prepare and then to actually present DOJ. I usually help with the business and entrepreneur section of DOJ (here are some pictures of the event downtown). This year they first heard a presentation in Memorial Auditorium from local business people regarding career decisions and how their life path has put them here in Ottawa at this time in their life…then we visited several downtown businesses to learn how to create a business and the challenges of making it work and thrive once established. This year we visited Front Row Sports, Maggie’s Popcorn and Mug Shot Coffee. All business owners have a very unique story…it’s good for the student to hear and experience. Also happening at the same time students are hearing from health professionals at AdventHealth, public works and city administration at the City of Ottawa and technical careers at the Goppert Recreation Center (a few pictures from here). In the afternoon the students tour in our North Industrial Park at Kalmar and American Eagle distribution. It’s impossible to see all available in one short day…but it does give young people a flavor of our community and lets them think/dream of their potential. It is much better to grow a workforce than to recruit one…the effort to present DOJ is time well spent.
 
Paul Bean:
 
This is old news by now, but last week the Franklin County Development Council (FCDC) announced the hiring of Paul Bean as their new director (set to begin November 4). Certainly not new to the community, Paul has worked locally at the former Team Bank and most recently for the last 12 years as the Vice President of Advancement at Ottawa University. Paul and I got together for lunch this week and compared our vision for each organization and ways we can work together. I’m looking forward to him being in the office…Paul is a longtime friend and will do great work in economic development. The position has been vacant for most of a year…with Proximity Park now ready to market we needed someone steering the economic development ship. Welcome aboard Paul…looking forward to working with you to advance our community!
 
Chautauqua Festival:
 
We were thinking about fireworks in September this week…on Wednesday Chamber members gathered for an after-hours to say thank you to Rex Carswell (pictures here) for his longtime service to the Ottawa Chautauqua fireworks and keeping the event going for the last 23 years. Rex announced his retirement in 2018 and the City of Ottawa asked the Chamber to keep the event alive by providing the community fireworks display. Tim Van Leiden and Tiffany Evans co-chaired this year’s annual 4th of July celebration but Rex came out of retirement to the committee get organized, purchase fireworks and get trained. It would have been hard to pull off without his leadership. Through the years many have worked to provide the fireworks display at our community Independence Day celebration…but for the last 5 years it has pretty much been Rex keeping the torch lit (so to speak). Thanks for your years of service Rex…I hope next year you enjoy the fireworks sitting in the park – you deserve it!!
 
“Win Your Legacy” Raffle:
 
This is becoming a fun project…someone in the community is going to win a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado from Beckman Motors. There are only 1,000 tickets being sold so your chances are far greater than winning the lottery or even the 50/50 Raffle at the Royals on a given night. The truck is not the only prize…also donated to be given away is a Yeti Cooler by Rod and Pam Harris, a gun donated by Tim Van Leiden at the Gun Guys which we are pairing with a gun safe donated by Orscheln’s Supply, $1000.00 cash prize and finally a grill donated by Jim Trendel at Trendel Lumber. These are fabulous prizes so I hope you have your ticket already…if you don’t you can purchase one ticket here for $125.00 or 10 tickets here for $1,000.00. Also here is a complete set of the rules. Other ticket locations are the Chamber Office, Kansas State Bank, Goppert State Service Bank, and Bank Midwest…or many of the Onward Ottawa board members have tickets to sell as well. We will have the truck parked in front of the Chamber office the night of the car show for you to see…daily it is parked at Legacy Square. Come by…buy your ticket and see yourself sitting in the driver’s seat of this brand new Chevy truck. Your chance to “Win Your Legacy”…proceeds to benefit Legacy Square.
 
Bob Allen Ford:
 
Another great community partner, Bob Allen Ford served Chamber members pancakes and showed us around their dealership this morning (pictures here). Having been a longstanding Ford dealership in the Kansas City area for the last 33 years, Bob Allen was granted the Ottawa franchise to provide cars to Ottawa drivers about 2 years ago. Since coming to town they have been strong community supporters for events such as Day on the Farm, Ladies Night Out and the Mayor’s Lighting Ceremony. Tim Smith is the sales manager and a familiar face at Chamber Events. He told our group this morning the dealership is moving 54 cars a month…nice job. With a commitment to sales and service, we are lucky to have a strong local dealership which stands behind their product. Thanks to Tim and Bob Allen Ford for hosting us this morning…and for keeping Ottawans rolling!
 
Social Media:
 
I’m closing this afternoon with something that has been very distressing to me this week…social media. First my bona fides…I don’t do social media. No offense to those who do (Cherry does)…but for me it is too much of a time-suck. In our office, Sydney has the responsibility to update and maintain our social media pages…Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the platforms she maintains for the Chamber. This week there was a firestorm over the announcement the Onward Ottawa board was providing a beer garden at Legacy Square as a fundraiser on Saturday during the Car Show. What is most frustrating is no one had their facts straight…on social media someone started by making a statement without knowing the truth and then it built from there…all on an inaccurate premise at the beginning.    
 
Eventually the Onward Ottawa group disbanded their efforts to provide the beer garden venue…no one wanted to cause the fear and angst which developed. It’s unbelievable to me the vitriol in the comments Sydney showed me…there was even an event page created on Facebook to boycott the beer garden…the fear was too much business would be drained from Ottawa businesses by the group selling $5.00 beers one block off Main Street. Most of the social media diatribes were based in fear and ignorance. Here is the juxtaposition in all of this…many of their comments were made on a page “Make Ottawa Great Again”! It was mostly businesses which benefit from all the volunteer hours served to create events such as the Car Show, Legacy Square, Ladies Night Out, the Antique Tractor Show…all events which actually “make Ottawa great” but at which I see none of them volunteering – but they are quick to complain and criticize. All while sitting in a safe place behind a computer screen.
 
To the group who wants to Make Ottawa Great Again, I say get in the game…serve on a committee, start an event, maintain a Main Street corner…just do something besides spewing venom from your computer.
 
Codie Cherry:  
 
Okay…off my soapbox and ending on a happy note! Codie Cherry, the newest member of our family is one week old…she had gained 6 oz. at her 1 week checkup. Here are a couple of pictures. Cherry and I will have a hard time staying away from her this weekend but we are staying home to go to the car show…hope to see you there!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John   
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
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