Chamber members hold brainstorming session

Chamber members hold brainstorming session
Date June 17, 2004
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

If the meeting of business and organizations Wednesday sponsored by the Newton Chamber/Alliance were to select a theme song, they couldn’t do much better than “Accentuate the Positive.”

The forum of about 25 business and service organization leaders met to discuss how the community can show its support in light of the recent Maytag layoffs and current strike.

“The purpose of this meeting is to determine how we can show community support, but not choosing sides,” Chamber President Tina Engelbart said. “We just want to get everybody to the table for a brainstorming session.”

The group emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and highlighting the good things about Newton, and offered several ideas and programs organizations are working on to offer support within the community.

ISU Extension Director Alan Keninger presented details of the seminars to be held today at DMACC on family finances and handling stress. Members of Iowa Workforce Development will be on hand at the afternoon session, and Iowa Concerns Hotline will offer information on legal and other free services.

United Way Director Sue Woods said she had been in contact with other cities which have experienced recent strikes, and she suggested creating a resource directory, a main source of information for community services, and a monitoring team to search for needs within the community. The United Way has a special needs fund for emergencies within Newton, and a portion of United Way’s fall campaign could be earmarked for special programs, such as a free lunch program or career-building seminars.

Keninger added that the Extension has been working on a resource directory for Newton, and the Extension Service may collaborate with United Way to complete and enhance that project.

Dean Ward, a volunteer with SCORE, a non-profit group which counsels small business owners, said his group will be offering financing and tax information, as well as details of how to start a small business. He said he would have more information available soon.

A group representing ACES Teen Center, Newton YMCA and the Salvation Army met at the high school recently, and plans are being considered for a free day at Maytag Pool, the theater or the skating rink, something to offer free recreation for Newton youth. In future meetings, the group may focus on back-to-school expenses, and the Salvation Army is considering a blue jean exchange.

George Pence, who said he represented the “lunatic fringe,” hoped to create an electronic sign on Interstate 80 advertising Newton events, and said he was planning a “think tank” for small business owners in Newton, those whose voices aren’t often heard in the community.

Newton Schools Superintendent Steve McDermott said he was unsure how the Maytag strike may affect students, but he was considering a student management program to assess student achievement and morale. He added that care should be taken in the methods of delivering the services throughout the community.

“We need to be in a more offering mode,” McDermott said. “People don’t want things rammed down their throats.”

Engelbart emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive attitude throughout the community, and said the Chamber/Alliance will be issuing a positive press release at least once per week.


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