Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Another busy week winding down today…sometimes it feels I’m sitting at my desk on Monday morning and the next thing I’m writing this newsletter – with only a blur in between. Codie Cherry is doing well adjusting to life down in Cedar Vale (mostly her 2 big brothers). I have another big announcement again this week…you will need to read to the end for the surprise…spoiler alert – Cherry and I now have 8 grandkids!!
 
It’s been a week ago now but the Ol’ Marais River Run was another very successful car show this year. The threat of bad weather (which never materialized) kept many cars away (so this year’s numbers were down) but it was still a fun Saturday evening watching the hotrods cruise Main Street. Here are a few pictures…pictures hardly capture the thrill of being present on Main Street and watching the classic cavalcade from the curb. With fewer cars, drivers could actually cruise more which made for more excitement. The community owes the Over the Road Gang (which organizes the annual show) a huge thank you for all the commerce and revenue their event brings to the community…not to mention all the good memories and history the weekend evokes.      
 
KOFO:
 
This was a big week for our local radio station…last Tuesday, September 24 represented 70 years of being on the air as KOFO…that first broadcast in 1949 represented the beginning of the local station being the ears and voice of the community far into the future with that relationship continuing today. Here are pictures from the station. Owners Brad Howard along with Bob and Liz Reusch served Chamber members breakfast…later, at noon, the entire community was invited for lunch. It was a big crowd both times. Doing the Chamber coffee live and on the air is the first time in my recollection we have broadcast a Chamber coffee…I’ve always been told I have a good face for radio!! Many have KOFO stories they wanted to share…I am no exception. For 40 years my grandfather, John Kelsey, served as Ottawa’s official weather observer winning many awards in the process. Every morning he talked on the radio giving the local forecast and the weather for the previous 24 hours…many times when I was with him he would put me on the air. I told broadcaster Derek Chappell I’ve been doing these broadcast interviews since back in the early 60s. Thanks to KOFO…they have kept us company when lonely, safe during storms and informed for 70 years…keep up the good work.
 
OU and AdventHealth:
 
Ottawa University and our local hospital made a big announcement this week…when the football team takes the field for their home opener on Saturday they will be playing on AdventHealth Field – formerly the Peoples Bank Field. You can read the full press release here. This relationship will extend far deeper than naming rights to the football field…it also involves sports medicine practice for athletes and coaches with a new clinic being established at 9th and Main Streets to facilitate this deeper commitment by the 2 organizations to partner together. More on this coming in the future…for now we have 2 local faith-based organizations uniting for the good of both organizations and the entire community. Thanks to both OU and AdventHealth…this if a natural symbiotic relationship which will benefit many.
 
The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR):
 
The 30th annual SIOR Development Day was held last evening at Union Station in downtown Kansas City. Development Day is the one night a year when everyone involved in Kansas City Metropolitan Area commercial real estate gathers in one room. The event is networking and highlighting new projects. The Franklin County Development Council for the 2nd year had a booth to promote commercial properties in our community but more importantly showcase Proximity Park. Here are a few pictures. Wynndee Lee, Ryan Henningsen, Paul Bean and I were among 80 other booths and displays…all promoting services, communities, property and special projects as site selectors, developers, realtors and contractors pursued the room. It was Paul’s first chance to stretch his economic development legs. We had a lot of interest in our 300 acre park which fronts I-35 and has infrastructure built to facilitate future development. Marketing is all about being seen…we had many lookers and tire kickers Thursday evening. Who knows if one might fill in…it will happen at some point. 
 
Commerce Department (DOC):
 
Thursday at noon I was at the Kansas DOC discussing workforce and workforce development. The DOC Secretary, David Toland and Deputy Secretary Patty Clark hosted the lunch. It’s a small group to facilitate good discussions…I participate as chairman of District 2 Kansas Works workforce board. We listened to a presentation from the Board of Regents this month…startling, but in 2026 Kansas will hit a tipping point causing a major decline of students eligible to attend secondary education…our local schools are feeling the reduced numbers already. This is not a theorized prediction…its simple math…less children are being born to the millennial generation. Of course this all affects not only secondary education, but future workforce too. The real hope for Kansas population growth is immigration…both foreign and domestic. There are several Kansas communities which have already begun to recruit foreign workers to their communities to maintain workforce for the established industries. We haven’t felt the crunch of population decline as much in our region of the state yet…but it’s coming.
 
Franklin County United Way:
 
The 2019 local United Way campaign kicked off this morning with a coffee (pictures here) hosted at Bank Midwest…this year’s goal is $150,000.00. Meg Pearson, the executive director of our local United Way told attenders of the benefits your donation makes to our community…last year 11,800 local residents were served by the 18 local partner organizations which benefit from the funds raised by United Way. Your dollars touched/benefited 40% of our Franklin County population. You can visit the United Way webpage and learn of all the organizations supported and how your generous commitments have been invested in local organizations, many of which couldn’t exist without the efforts of our annual United Way campaign. Thanks to all who volunteer for the United Way and to Meg for her ability to organize our community’s campaign…it’s important work – if you can, be sure to help out when asked.
 
Heidi Jo Brown:
 
Heidi Jo introduced herself last Sunday afternoon (September 22), checking in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 19 inches long. Heidi is our 8th grandchild and 3rd daughter for parents Whitney and Joe…parents and baby are all doing well. Here are a few pictures of our newest family member…very precious. She was born during the Chiefs game…I thought they should name her Patricia Mahomies (or something like that).
 
Sounds like it is supposed to be a rainy weekend (again). I’m looking forward to a quiet couple of days to include K-State and Chiefs football and maybe a nap sometime in there. I hope you are planning something relaxing too.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
john@ottawakansas.org
785-242-1000
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