Chamber banquet celebrates local businesses

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The Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership banquet on Monday, Jan. 15, at the Guttenberg Community Golf Club. From left are Board President Kevin Hennessey, Director Mandy Ludovissy, and board members Brandon Friedlein, Sadie Hefel and Dave Brown. Not pictured are Alex Finch and Patty Schwarz. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

City Manager Denise Schneider and Mayor Bill Frommelt introduced themselves to the business community at last Monday's Chamber of Commerce banquet. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

The Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership banquet on Monday, Jan. 15, at the Guttenberg Community Golf Club. Approximately 50 members attended the event, which was catered by Kaffee 1858. Chamber president Kevin Hennessey welcomed attendees and began the evening with a year in review. 

Hennessey reiterated the chamber’s mission to promote business, economic development and tourism in Guttenberg and to provide events that support community values. In 2017, the Chamber received a grant from the Clayton County Foundation for the Future to install bike racks throughout the downtown. New message boards, provided by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Andy and MJ Smith, were erected for distributing information. The Chamber created a guide for new and prospective residents, started a monthly newsletter, participated in a housing study, and facilitated travel bloggers from midwestrivercities.com. 

The chamber placed print advertisements for Guttenberg in Vacationland, Bluff Country, Travel & Leisure Guide, Area Attractions, and Big River Magazine. Cooperative commercials done with the Clayton County Development group featured Stars and Stripes, Art by the River, local restaurants and hotels, and river activities. 

“We want you to know that your advertising dollar is reaching farther, and part of that is our cooperation with the Clayton County Development Group (CCDG) because they’re getting various cities to work together,” Hennessey explained. “When we cooperate with CCDG, our contribution is $3,000 – but because they’re cooperating with other communities, we get the benefit of a $34,000 marketing campaign.” Other partnerships with CCDG over the last year have included a housing needs assessment, Facebook contests, and business resources/training opportunities. 

Hennessey reported $25,000 in income from the City of Guttenberg last year; $13,600 from GermanFest; $7,500 from Stars and Stripes; $7,125 from membership; and other miscellaneous income. He noted that in 2017 the director’s wages were $17,112; GermanFest cost $12,200; Stars and Stripes cost $9,500; advertising $6,250; and other miscellaneous expenses. 

New Chamber Director Mandy Ludovissy spoke on her observations since starting the job in November. “There’s a lot of issues and work to be done together, but there’s a ton of talent and good things happening in Guttenberg. There’s momentum, which I’m really excited to be a part of, and I’m going to do whatever I can to keep that going,” said the director. “I will work with you, listen, be there and do the work that needs to be done, but I need your help. I need you to give feedback, volunteer, get on board – and we’re all going to make this happen. It really does take all of us to have success.”

Chamber board member Sadie Hefel reported on the Chamber’s youth ambassador program, which has successfully hosted two ambassadors – Jade Staebler and Morgan Tujetsch. Youth have helped prepare for events, welcome visitors, assist with the filming of commercials, and have been invaluable with technological projects. “The youth ambassadors help businesses get involved with social media. That comes very naturally to youth,” Hefel explained, also noting that ambassador Jade Staebler filmed a video about Guttenberg that is available at the library. In return for their service, the youth get a great resume builder that gives them a look at the behind-the-scenes workings of the community. They also get cash and gift cards provided by sponsors such as The Guttenberg Motel, Peoples State Bank, Divine Current and the Chamber of Commerce itself. 

The new mayor and city manager were in attendance and introduced themselves to business owners and employees. Both emphasized their willingness to engage with Guttenberg businesses and help them succeed. There was also a presentation from representatives of the Wave of the Future. 

Members in attendance expressed the desire to learn more about other local businesses throughout the year by attending business social hours and touring each other’s facilities. That exchange of information began immediately with each attendee introducing themselves and their business. Representatives from local businesses included: Community Savings Bank (114 years old and having completed two full years in Guttenberg), Wille Construction, Degnan-Green Insurance & Real Estate, Black Hills Energy, Autotek Service Center & Graphic Design, Heaven’s Hill Antiques, Fidelity Bank & Trust; Reimer Financial/NY Life (who happily volunteered to host the first business social); Peoples State Bank (in Guttenberg for 118 years), Pattison Sand, Meuser Lumber (celebrating 100 years in business), Picket Fence Cafe/Clayton Ridge Farm, The Guttenberg Press (in its 121st year of publication), Ideal Decorating (in business 3 years in Guttenberg), Bent Willow Studio & Gallery (celebrating one year in business), Divine Current, Guttenberg Care Center (over 50 years in business) and Eagle Ridge Independent & Assisted Living, Hefel Construction, Brown’s Sales & Leasing (54 years in business), Thrivent Financial, Clayton Ridge Schools, PromiseLand Winery (starting its fifth year), Bootleggers (in its fourth season), Courthouse Inn (10 years in business), SignX/Fusion Products, Lakeside Ballroom (a first-year chamber member), and even a vendor from the Guttenberg Farmer’s Market. Business owners shared their upcoming events and activities, and applauded one another’s successes. 

A frontline employee-training program is on the docket for 2018, and will further the interaction, education and goodwill shared by the members at the banquet by educating those who interact with residents and visitors about all Guttenberg has to offer. 

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