Dear Chamber Supporters:
It feels like we are truly moving into summer this week…warm temps (luckily the humidity hasn’t been too bad yet). Not much chance of rain in the extended forecast…only those pop-up afternoon thunderstorms are forecast intermittently. The long-range prediction looks like good weather for the 4th of July Celebration. Tiffany Evans gathered her Chautauqua Festival committee at Forest Park on Tuesday morning this week review logistics for the celebration day…Here is a flier  listing all the day’s activities. I hope everyone can find something which they will enjoy. The midsummer celebration of our freedom is more likely to be celebrated in community and with others in the outdoors than any other National holiday…I hope you will join the greater community to take a day off…remember our independence and enjoy the festivities on Thursday. It will be an awesome time.
Not Lost Brewery:
My week has seemed like it has flown by…we started early Monday morning watching Dusty and Melanie Gentry brew beer…here are a few pictures. The Gentry’s work well as a team…Dusty is the brewmaster but Melanie is the support and knows and understands every step in the process. Monday morning they were mixing up a batch of Kolch, one of their more requested beverages…they said they ran dry briefly last weekend and wanted to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Each beer is different, but it takes approximately 5 days from the mixing of the recipe to complete the cooking and fermentation process. The Gentrys had a Blackberry Lime beer almost ready to pull from the pot and into a keg…he gave us all a small taste. It was good…I think the Gentrys are on to something.
We went to Not Lost with Lee Stadler from Ottawa University who has his own small Design and Photo business…we have been traveling to several popular business and local landmarks to have stock photos available for projects such as our directory design, making pamphlets, or website redesign.  We find we have many of pictures…but the pictures we take on our phones are not great shots of high enough quality to use in publications and websites. I’m sure you agree with me after looking at my “great” photography skills each week. I’m a point and shoot type of guy…Lee is an artist.
Ottawa Chamber Website:
Speaking of website…Ryland Miller, the Ottawa Chamber’s Community Liaison continues refreshing the Chamber’s webpage. Ryland has given the page more attention in the last 3 weeks than it has received in the last 3 years. It is something which is mostly out of sight and out of mind…we rarely look at our own information critically. What we must now remember is the internet is the street upon which most travel these days…and your webpage is you front door…in the case of the Chamber the front door for the community. Go to our redesigned page and have a look: It’s not completely done, but it is close. I asked Ryland when it would be complete so I could encourage you all to have a look…he said it will never be “done”…it will always be a work in progress. Well alrighty then…I like his attitude.  See what you think…you see a mistake or think of something which could be added to the page, shoot Ryland an email…he will appreciate the feedback.
Office Reorganization:
Our office reorganization is complete and we are back to full steam and a full team for the first time since sometime last fall. Sherri Lund who has been greeter and the face of the Chamber for 10 years has moved her deck back into the first office. Sydney Coleman is our full-time Membership Director and greets everyone with a smile and hello when entering the office (just as Sherri has done for years!). Putting our Membership Director out front gives her the opportunity to meet more of our members and be on the “front-line” when someone inquires about Chamber Membership. Pictures of Sydney and Ryland here. Removing phone and door responsibilities has allowed Sherri to focus full time on our trip and event management…which has become quite involved and more complicated over the years. Additionally right now Sydney is pouring full effort into our new membership directory (due out this fall)…I think you are going to appreciate her work and results on the product. Ryland, in addition to the web design, is writing script and working with a videographer to update our community videos, also located on our webpage. We have a good team with a mix of youth and experience. Stop by and say hello…don’t hesitate to contact us to tell us know how we can help you.
Chamber Briefs:
·        Car Wash: demolition is complete and excavation has begun on the new carwash located at 23rd and Princeton Streets…here are a couple of pictures. There were many local rumors this project had fallen through and wasn’t happening…I don’t know how these things get started. It always takes time to close on a property, get final designs completed and receive all the necessary permits. I don’t totally understand how their business model works but basically you can buy a membership which allows you as many carwashes in a month as you prefer…it is not a self-washing unit (like the ones which are scattered at various locations locally) but handwashing.
·        Main Street Flowers: now the waterline replacement project through Ottawa’s downtown is finished, work begins/completes on rebuilding the landscaped street corners. Ottawa Main Street Association coordinates the planting of the corners from 1st to 5th Street…honorable mentions goes to Jane Creighton who does the heavy lift on much of the design, planting and work. Jane also does the flowers in front of the Chamber and many other downtown businesses. Last evening I caught Rotary members working on a corner…if your organization would like to adopt a corner to grow and make beautiful (it is a great civil volunteer program) you can contact Ottawa Main Street Association here or call 785.242.2085 for available corners left to adopt this year. 
·        1st Security Title: what a great barbecue lunch 1st Security Title provided Wednesday afternoon to clients and supporters…you could smell the great feast 2 blocks away as we walked from the Chamber. These couple of picturesdon’t give you sense of the smell and taste but you can see the grill is set up in front of their business preparing the feast. Their downstairs room was packed with hungry community members enjoying a great lunch and fellowship.
Chamber members cut the ribbon on TRIO (an independent education support center unit) this morning. TRIO has been in the community for over 2 years now…we introduced them last year at a Chamber Coffee …but now they have a permanent location and invited everyone to come and see their new digs. They are renting space in ECKAN building at 1320 South Ash Street (pictures here). TRIO is a federally-funded educational outreach program. Eric Patterson, the Director and Laurel Carthy told attenders, staff helps low-income, first-generation college and disabled local adults who wish to begin, resume or continue their education beyond the secondary level and eventually earn a Bachelor’s degree or post-secondary certification. TRIO’s mission is to help students overcome academic, economic, social, and cultural barriers to higher education…this is a great service! They refer to themselves as “hope dealers”… whatever your barrier…childcare, transportation, lack of high school diploma…TRIO stands as your support unit to break the barricades down and advance individuals with a disadvantaged background. Welcome (again) TRIO…thanks for your service!!
Legacy Square:
Quick update on construction this week…it was a good week of progress despite several rains. Curb and guttering around the large pavilion should be complete by end of today…also on the west side along Walnut Street (here are the pictures). In one of the pictures you can see the brick which will be placed as column cover around the upright steel structures. Workers started pouring the concrete on the floor of the large pavilion this morning…this is a large area. I learned this week the area underneath the large pavilion is almost identical in size to the footprint of the Trauma Center at AdventHealth – Ottawa (which was opened in November of 2017). Once the floor is in place, work can begin on installing the roof. You can really start to see the footprint of the entire square now…many have told me how excited they are seeing the construction and getting to celebrate at the grand opening. We do have some initial plans in place for an official celebration, but just a little early to announce yet…stay tuned. We are also getting calls from high school class reunions, local organizations and individuals on how you go about booking the space for private events…we have begun the work on the policies and processes which will be in place to allow our community to take full advantage of the new space.
Kansas Department of Commerce:
I spent most of Wednesday at the Kansas Department of Commerce meeting with the board chairs of the 6 workforce districts of Kansas…I’m chair of District 2 which is referred to as Heartland Works. Our topics were mainly new job identification, workforce development and barriers which are preventing the population in Kansas from growing. I learned that Kansas is 49th out of 50 states in population shrinkage…said differently, Kansas is losing people faster than any other state in the Union except one! This is an alarming statistic…we are going to begin meeting on a quarterly bases to collectively work on solutions to deal with and understand the outflow. Strategies will include recruitment of new jobs and retaining the brain power which has grown up here in Kansas…or moved to our state for college. We know the 3 largest communities in which job seekers search Kansas looking for available jobs are New York City, Chicago, and Raleigh. Commerce is beginning a social media campaign in those communities saying “come home to Kansas”.  An in-depth economic development state study will begin sometime this fall. We are looking for answers to 1) how do we stack up to other states; what are best practices; and a strategy and plan for implementation of a new economic development state plan…last one completed – 1983.
We had lunch with the Deputy Secretary, Patty Clark (a longtime friend of the Ottawa community) and the Secretary David Toland (spoiler alert!!: we are working to get David to Ottawa this summer to be our speaker at our annual Eggs and Issues). I’ll keep you posted.
Got to run…Wynndee Lee, Midge Ransom and I are presenting to trail communities in eastern Kansas…hosted by the Sunflower Foundation at the Bottle House today. Other communities are hearing and learning about what we are doing here and want to come see our progress and pick our brains. I’ll have more on this next week.
Here are just a couple grandkid pictures from this last week…have a SAFE and HAPPY 4th of July (and relaxing too) – see you at Forest Park on Thursday.  
Onward ~ John
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce