Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This was a short week…so a shorter newsletter. Things have been pretty quiet in the Chamber office this week. Sherri and Sydney kept the fires burning on Monday and Tuesday while Ryland and I kept things perking Thursday and Friday. I think for the most part all are enjoying the holiday coupled with great weather for December…I hope the local retail numbers will bear this out in the final accounting of the Christmas season.
 
The Coen family had our Christmas the weekend of December 14 & 15…if you recall, that was a white Christmas Norman Rockwell scene. This week, on Christmas Day, Cherry, I, and son Todd went to see the new Star Wars movie…I really enjoyed it. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I thought the movie did a good job of tying up all loose ends. They say it is the last in the saga…we’ll see how that works out. It seems our society has an insatiable need for these epics…I can’t believe we won’t have a reprisal at some point. 
 
Here are Christmas morning pics from all our grandkids…fortunately Santa made it to each home and was very generous.
 
With Cherry and me both being off earlier in the week we hosted 4 of the 8 grandkids for a slumber party at our house Sunday evening. Slumber is kind of an operative word…there certainly wasn’t much slumbering going on! Here is a picture of Monday morning breakfast. We had great fun but enjoyed sending the tired little scamps home to their moms and dads in the afternoon so we could take a nap. 
 
Chamber Annual Banquet:
 
The electronic invitations for our 2019 annual banquet have not yet been sent…but you should all have received your hard copy in the mail by now.  Save the date: January 25, 2020 is the banquet – at The Bottle House.  We have already had a few reservations come in by calling the office (785.242.1000). Always an enjoyable evening…one in which we look back at the year just completed, but mostly take a moment and recognize our significant community leaders for their work in advancing Ottawa and Franklin County. If you have someone you would like to nominate for one of the Chamber’s annual awards you can do so by clicking here. Our biggest annual recognition is the Russel Crites Award, but also we acknowledge this year’s Community Builder, the Entrepreneur of the Year, the Horizon Award and the Smile of the Year award. If you know someone who has made a difference in the life and lives of our community be sure to nominate them. Nominations are due by January 13, 2020. 
 
Looking back at 2019:
 
With a quiet and short week it gives us a moment to look back on 2019…it really has been quite a year for our community. Of course one of the bigger accomplishments was the completion of Legacy Square. This project which spread over the last 3-years beginning with the evaluation and development followed by a year of fundraising…and then finally the construction which was completed in August this year. It was a big celebration at the ribbon cutting and Travis Marvin concert on September 6. We are already planning events for the coming year with full intention of making the Square an integral part of our downtown and the life of the community. 
 
Noteworthy for this week…the first of two bridges was installed (pictures here).
 
Also completed this year was the $63.5 million school bond issue from April 2015…we now have fabulous schools. Schools of which the entire community can be very proud. Our education facilities include a state of the art high school, a recently completed new grade school, a new Pre-K building at Garfield Elementary and all are school’s safety and protection features for children has been upgraded.
 
Proximity Park is 95% complete with the final pieces of infrastructure being installed now. The storm drainage and electrical should be entirely completed early in 2020…the intersection at Hwy. 59 & Kingman Roads has been rebuilt and the infrastructure installed to facilitate a signaled intersection once the traffic count merits the additional traffic control. Also early in 2020 the State of Kansas is scheduled to replace the bridge over I-35 on Montana Road. It is only a matter of time until we recruit new business development to the location…stay tuned!
 
I should also mention housing is at a 10-year high. Not only are we having new development, but also a lot of infill from former homes being demolished and now new builds being constructed in neighborhood communities all over town. The new Prairie Fire Development at the intersection of Enterprise and Cherry Streets is awesome…if you haven’t driven past there recently you won’t believe it. Best thing, housing starts and development is taking place for all spectrums of the price market…exactly what you need and expect from a healthy housing market.
 
We had 5 new retail businesses open on Main Street since June of 2019: Farmhouse Boutique, The Gold Mercantile, The Pie Pit, Sunday Morning Boutique and the Corner Café. This would be quite an accomplishment for communities twice our size. All this couples with the new businesses and development which is happening in South Ottawa: Custom Dental, Dr. Leanne Desch, Fusion Alley (PrimeTime Grille coming in January), the Car Wash Club, the Home Base rebrand and remodel, and the Holiday Inn Express to be completed in 2020. There is just a lot of new development which happened and is currently happening. Be proud to be from Ottawa!
 
Looking Ahead to 2020:
 
It would be fun to have a crystal ball and see what all will happen in 2020…I’m sure it will be quite a ride just as 2019 has been. A few things being worked on and for which you can is a closer partnership between Ottawa Main Street Association and the Chamber. The fostering of this development has been much needed and will bring many positive new synergies to our downtown community. Our community just isn’t large enough to create numerous organizations which virtually work on the same things…we must be more prudent and efficient with our community resources. With this symbiotic relationship budding, watch for more activities and events at Legacy Square too. 
 
What else will develop is hard to predict…I know one thing for sure – I’m looking forward to making it happen with all of you. This community – Ottawa and Franklin County, is accepting change at a record pace…not all communities can do this. For one, they do not have the community development visioning and planning in place to be prepared…but mostly communities can’t get out of their own way. In Ottawa we not only have the planning and vision in place…we embrace the progress!!
 
Here is looking forward to a great 2020…when I sign each week, I truly mean
 
ONWARD OTTAWA!!
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000