Dear Chamber Supporters ~
 
It’s been a busy week in the Chamber office! Including all the regular hubbub, we’ve also been getting ready for a Sons of Sterling concert tonight at Legacy Square, a groundbreaking, a regular weekly coffee and welcomed all the Ottawa University (OU) students to Ottawa at our annual OU Downtown Fusion event. Here are all the sponsors of the concert tonight…without them, providing free concerts would be impossible. I specifically want to mention our premier sponsors, Trendel Lumber, Cosentino’s Price Chopper, Aunt B’s Blossoms, Hayden Farms, and Loyd Builders. All of these businesses are first-rate community citizens…be sure to tell them so when you see them!!
 
We are most certainly transitioning to fall schedules now! New teachers to USD 290 were on duty last week…all teachers reported this week – including Cherry! The school pedestrian zones flashing lights were turned on this morning…students begin class next week.  The Ottawa swimming pool is closed for the season, OU students are back in town, all the county fairs are over, and the Library and Ottawa Recreation have completed their summer youth programming. Now if we can get the temperatures to transition too!
 
Victory Groundbreaking:
 
Work has officially begun on the new car plaza on East 23rd Street…officials from the Chamber, City of Ottawa, and Franklin County joined owners of the Victory Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM (CDJR) dealership (currently located on West 23rd Street) for a groundbreaking and a light lunch (pictures here). Kallan LaForge, one of the owners, and also the manager of the Ottawa store, said it was a long time coming, but they are excited about the project. He also made the big announcement the location will be the site of two dealerships…the East 23rd Street development will be split north and south with a cul-de-sac. On the west side will be the Victory CDJR dealership…on the east side of the location, will be a new General Motors dealership with Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC. It will be owned by the same ownership group which now, including their 2 Ottawa sites, will give them 9 different dealerships in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. With this announcement also came the surprise, the ownership group has purchased Beckman Motors in Garnett…hence the General Motors franchise for our area. Kallan didn’t say what the name of the new dealership would be but did mention the ownership group will retain interest in their current West 23rd Street location in order to expand their service area and potentially do some body work too. All this is extremely positive for Ottawa and Franklin County…more car sales will translate into higher sales tax collections locally. Expect to see more development along I-35…especially as the new Panasonic plant at DeSoto begins to build and develop. Change (depending on your definition of quick) will probably happen more quickly over the next 10 years compared to the last 10 years!
 
Last Week:
 
This is the last week to complete the BCBS of Kansas health survey for purposes of getting into the large group for health insurance purposes named Chamber Blue…any business which completes the survey is guaranteed into the group at the rates which will be quoted in September. If you don’t like the rates, you are under no obligation to buy the insurance. The group is comprised of members from 53 Kansas chambers from all across the state. The response statewide has been phenomenal…over 8,000 businesses representing more than 20,000 employees. BCBS of KS says this group of Kansas Chambers will potentially be their largest associated health plan. Locally, 27 businesses representing 280 employees have completed the survey. There is still time…close of business next Thursday, August 18 is the last day to turn the questionnaire in. You can take the survey here. For additional information about this health insurance opportunity, including an informational webinar, Chamber Blue brochure, and BCBS of KS contacts click here…or you can call the Chamber at 785.242.1000 and we are happy to assist you in the process.
 
Welcome OU Students:
 
Fusion this year was a very dynamic event (pictures here). Annually we welcome students to town with a downtown picnic…Ottawa businesses and organizations organize tables with giveaways and swag for the opportunity to introduce themselves and give students an idea of different services available in the community…this year 33 businesses and organizations participated. American Dining Creations, the food service at the university, prepared a meal of beef hotdogs and pulled pork to go with baked beans, potato salad, potato chips and a cookie. Students looked like they were having a blast. A disc jockey played music and made challenges to students who enjoyed the games and dancing. Many took advantage of the corn hole boards, a large Jenga game and a jumbo 4-to-score gameboard…others simply sat and visited taking advantage of the cool breeze and shade offered by the pavilion at Legacy Square. Many students came from a sports practice and others had just arrived in town. This is a very positive event…it is important we welcome students to the space they will call home-away-from-home for the next 9-months. Some will end up staying, getting employment, spouses and live here the rest of their lives. What’s the saying…you only get one chance to make a good first impression…it’s always important to put best foot forward!! 
 
2022/23 Leadership Franklin County (LFC):
 
The 22/23 LFC Class has been officially announced as well as welcomed and introduced to Chamber members (complete roster here). The LFC Board hosted all Chamber members for coffee this morning (pictures here) to meet and greet the new participants…they will begin their class experience in 2-weeks with team-building exercises at Prairie Star Ranch south of Williamsburg. These LFC groups usually bond and become very close friends over the course of the next 9-months…and create a network going forward with their lives and careers. This is the 37th year for the class and the graduates are many…this program, probably above all other Chamber programs, pays long-term dividends to our community. The graduates of this program have gone on to be legislators, City and County Commissioners, and School Board members, not to mention all the organizations and committees they commit to over the years and organizations and businesses they represent. If looking over this group makes you think of someone in your organization who should be in the class, turn their names into the Chamber…we’ll make sure they get a nomination for next year’s class. Here is a peek at the 22/23 application if you would like to see what expectations are and what participants had to respond to in order to be selected…the Leadership Board usually tweaks the application each year, but if someone is interested in the class it would at least give an idea of the process.
 
Sons of Sterling:
 
I’m heading down to Legacy Square now to set up for the Sons of Sterling concert…it will be an exceptionally fun evening. The last weekend of “freedom” for students…should be no homework or assignments yet. It is hot today…but it will cool as the evening passes. There will be several food trucks there tonight as well as adult beverages. Bring a lawn chair and join in the last summer concert…I look forward to seeing you!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000