Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It has been a fairly quiet week around town with decent winter weather for January (except for today!)…pretty much everyone is still excited from the amazing Chiefs come-from-behind victory last Sunday…WOW! Locally we saw all government reorganize this week…the Ottawa City Commission appointed Tom Weigand as Mayor and Sara Caylor as Mayor Pro Tem …pictures here. Franklin County also restructured by electing Colton Waymire to succeed Rick Howard as commission chair and Ianne Dickinson as the vice-chair. 
 
The shift in leadership happens seamlessly and for the most part without fanfare…not exactly what we experience at State and National levels. I always like to quote City Manager Richard Nienstedt here, “local government is the last bastion of true democracy.” He is right on this…we elect our leaders and they live among us – shopping at the same stores, attending the same churches and sending their kids to the same schools. They abide by the policies and ordinances which they evoke…and citizens have direct access to their elected officials to talk directly about issues. This is the way government was set up to work…somewhere along the lines in state and national politics we have developed professional politicians who stay in office way too long and don’t live among the people they represent.
 
Leadership Franklin County:
 
Speaking of leadership…I think one of the major reasons we have good leadership locally is because we address it overtly and intentionally. Leadership Franklin County (LFC) has been producing local leaders for 35 years – over 400 citizens are graduates of the local leadership class. Many go on to become elected in some capacity but all go on to serve in local organizations and in their places of employment. Taking time to teach leadership skills and correct ways in which leaders should respond and engage has greatly benefited us in Franklin County…it gives us a good modicum of civility.
 
This week the LFC board brought Steven Iwersen in to speak to this year’s class participants (pictures here)…and also invited the community to attend. About 50 took advantage and joined the local leadership class members to hear Steven speak on servant leadership and leadership styles. Many will remember Steven as a former pastor at the Church of the Nazarene here in town…he is also a former chair of the Chamber Board. Always good to welcome someone back to Ottawa. Steven is on a national speaker’s circuit and speaks all over the country…glad to have him home this week.   
 
O-Town Reads:
 
The Ottawa Library brought in a regionally well-known athlete and now writer, Matt Besler to speak about his book, No Other Home (you can read a review here about the book). The book is this year’s O-Town Reads selection and the library has once again done a great job in choosing a story for the whole community to read and discuss. Bringing in author Matt Besler is the first of several planned events to highlight this autobiographical story about a Kansas boy growing up playing soccer…eventually on an international stage. Matt was especially effective speaking to the young soccer players in the audience (pictures here). Speaking for about an hour, he told a little about his life and what has brought him to this point…but mostly he answered questions from attenders speaking very casually and directly to the 200 local citizens attending.  His informal presentation about his life and specifically about his life lessons which he has garnered from playing soccer and participating in team sports relays a poignant message to all…but especially young athletes. Two more book discussions have been scheduled…first on January 27 at 7:00 in the Library and February 4 at 4:00…location to be announced. Check the library’s webpage for more program scheduling. Also…you can get a book for free and join the community discussion – just stop by the Ottawa Library to get your copy!!    
 
Franklin County Development Council:
 
Franklin County Development Council (FCDC) spent time at their regular quarterly meeting this week learning about local workforce and workforce development. One of the downsides of low unemployment is the ability of industry to find workers…to maintain their labor force but also to expand. FCDC Director Paul Bean invited Dr. Ryan Cobbs, USD 290 Superintendent and Wendy Rossman, Director of Outreach and Workforce Development at Neosho County Community College (NCCC) to speak to the group about what is being done locally to combat challenging workforce issues (pictures here). The partnership these 2 local education institutes are forming will pay benefits in years to come in growing our workforce with our own local graduates. Young people on a technical career course can now take classes at OHS and NCCC simultaneously…graduating with a high school diploma and a career tech certification at the same time. In fact, the first student will do so this spring…and best part – she has no cost in her post-secondary education. Potentially we can grow and train our own labor force locally. This partnering is revolutionary in the education world and bound to become a template for other communities. It is a perfect example of what we can do working together! 
 
PrimeTime Grille:
 
You can now get a meal from the new PrimeTime Grille on the Fusion Alley side…albeit the menu is limited for the time being. The PrimeTime Restaurant is due to open a week from today on Friday, January 24 (here’s your invitation to the grand opening)…we will have a Chamber ribbon cutting at 8:00 on this morning too. Hearing they were serving food, Cherry and I went for a hamburger before going to hear Matt Besler speak Wednesday evening (pictures here)…it was an amazing hamburger. You are going to like this place! I will have more on this next week from our ribbon cutting on Friday morning. I’m really anxious to see their entire menu. If the hamburger was any indication it is going to be great.
 
Chiefs:
 
I think everyone is excited about the Chiefs right now…even the casual fan. It seems like the stars have aligned this year…but we’ve seen them align before only to get knocked out of line. Here’s my prediction for the game Sunday…Chiefs 47 – Titans 27. Really going out on a limb aren’t I…I think this is our year (fingers crossed!!)
 
 Be safe today…really slick outside. Talk to you next week…      
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
john@ottawakansas.org
785-242-1000