A look at the past and future at GD&T annual meeting

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GD&T board members are, from left, President Tom Augustyn, Sadie Hefel, Janette Simon, Director Emily Moser, Molly Moser, newly elected Kevin Hennessey, and Jane Thein. Not pictured is Dr. Nathan Shaw. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

“It was a whirlwind of a year,” said Guttenberg Development & Tourism President Tom Augustyn as he welcomed members and guests to the annual membership meeting on Monday, Jan. 12, at PromiseLand Winery. 

The evening began with an hour of socializing, followed by a top-notch meal served by Clayton Ridge Farm. When the time came to hold board elections, it appeared that the whirlwind would continue. Members were expecting to fill one opening in the board left by Andrew Reimer until long-time board member Dwight Hughes surprised those in attendance by announcing his resignation in favor of the two candidates on the ballot. “It’s been a fantastic ride,” said Hughes, who has forged partnerships between GD&T and the Pride of Cassville Car Ferry organization, as well as with IRRMA members who bring The Rock the River Road Show Dance, which brings over 400 visitors to the city each year. 

On the ballot were Kevin Hennessey and Dr. Nathan Shaw. Hennessey participated regularly in community projects for three decades while raising his children, and as the co-owner of Guttenberg’s Thrivent Financial, he said, “We have a heart and desire to serve this community.” Hennessey’s wife, Rabecca, was recently appointed to Guttenberg Economic & Industrial Development Corporation.

Dr. Shaw, who was on call in Guttenberg and could not be present for the meeting, sent a statement. “I have a lot of enthusiasm, creativity, observations from the other places I’ve lived (Dubuque, Iowa City, and Davenport), and a strong interest in making sure Guttenberg continues to be a great place to visit and live. If elected, I’ll strive to be helpful, reliable, and an asset to the board.”

Following elections Augustyn introduced director Emily Moser, stating, “I am as happy as can be that Emily filled the job when she did.” Moser began working for GD&T in June of 2014, in the midst of planning for RAGBRAI, Stars and Stripes, and Celebrate Guttenberg; all following the departure of two previous directors, Mary Beth Theis and Harold Waterman, in the six months prior. 

Moser expressed her appreciation to Reimer and Hughes for their years of service and welcomed Dr. Nathan Shaw and Kevin Hennessey to their new positions on the board. She gave updates on new membership benefits, which include help wanted listings, rental listings, sample itineraries marketed to specific groups, and monthly business spotlights in The Press. She also reviewed the organization’s financials, which included a $5,000 donation from RAGBRAI that will cover roof replacement on Guttenberg’s Welcome Center. Moser reported that GD&T received 32% of its income from membership dues and 23% from grants in 2014. Cost of city-wide events makes up 20% of the organization’s expenses, and advertising accounts for another 13%.

The featured presenter for the evening was Colleen Murphy of the Iowa Tourism Office. Murphy is Partnerships Manager of the Iowa Tourism Office at the Iowa Economic Development Authority where she is responsible for tourism promotions, the cooperative partnerships program, the Iowa Tourism Conference and working with sponsors for various events and programs.  Colleen also represents the department on the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board.

Murphy reported on the impacts of tourism in Iowa and provided information to local business owners on how to directly benefit from the actions of the Iowa Tourism Office, with emphasis on free business, attraction, and event listings submitted with the click of a mouse at traveliowa.com. 

“Tourism adds $8 billion to the Iowa economy each year,” Murphy told GD&T members. She stated that travel trends of late show tourists staying closer to home for shorter, more frequent trips, and pointed out that Iowa is just a few hours from highly populated Minneapolis, Chicago, Madison and Kansas City.  

GD&T’s mission is to promote business, economic development, and tourism in Guttenberg and to provide events that support community values. The organization is currently looking for community members interested in getting involved with Germanfest 2015. “We plan to hold our first meeting at the end of January,” said Moser. “Contact the Welcome Center at 252-2323 if you’re interested in serving on the Germanfest Committee, as a volunteer in another capacity, or if you have questions or ideas.”

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