DSM Local is an initiative to drive more investment to local small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The campaign aims to showcase the crucial role small businesses play in DSM and inform the public about the benefits and opportunities of doing business locally — all to help small businesses thrive.
We can all make a difference in growing our economy and making DSM an even more prosperous community. For more information and guides on where to make local purchases, click here.
Supplier Diversity Training Program
The Greater Des Moines Partnership has launched a new Supplier Diversity Training Program for small business owners and corporate purchasing agents. Training will be a two-track virtual and hybrid program with one track for corporate purchasing agents and one track for small businesses.
For the corporate purchasing track, the first event in the series is taking place on Wednesday, July 14, focused on “The Role of the Supplier Diversity Practitioner” featuring speaker Kathey Porter, a small business expert with experience spanning nearly two decades in marketing, small business development, supplier diversity and entrepreneurship, who will present on key competencies and strategies needed to drive impactful organizational results. Other events are scheduled on July 21, July 28 and Aug. 4. Stay tuned for more details on small business programming.
To register for one or more of these events, click here.
As one of the nation's fastest growing centers for business, Greater Des Moines (DSM) employers understand and endorses the importance of maintaining a vibrant and diverse workplace.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership acts as a catalyst to mobilize the business community toward a broad economic development vision that incorporates all people as valued contributors and valuable customers. The Partnership offers a variety of programs to help you attract and retain diverse talent in your organizations, including the Untapped Talent toolkit.
The Untapped Talent Toolkit aims to provide leaders and employees with an overview of initiatives and tools needed to implement diversity and inclusion programs in their organization and in order to leverage untapped talent. The Guide is intended to help organizations get started and/or continue on their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Areas of Untapped Talent that are covered in the toolkit are ex-offenders/re-entered citizens, LGBTQ and non-binary individuals, Black / African American, people with disabilities, veterans and foreign-born.
Centered around these untapped talent groups are webinars we host on a regular basis in conjunction with commemorative months. Our LGBTQ Inclusion event is coming up on June 17, click here to register for the event and look for future events in our calendar and newsletters.
For the complete Untapped Talent Inclusion Guide and to learn more, click here.
The Partnership's Public Policy team engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The Partnership provides opportunities for its Members to connect, build relationships and continue dialogue with their elected officials. At the start of each legislative session, The Partnership hosts a pre-session Legislative Reception and Day on the Hill. Each year The Partnership leads a delegation of nearly 200 business, civic, community and local elected leaders to Washington, D.C., dubbed DMDC, to advocate with one voice — one of the largest chamber of commerce fly-ins in the nation.
What can Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce Members take advantage of?
Access to the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Policy Team Andrea Woodard, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy (awoodard@DSMpartnership.com) and Ryan Moon, Public Policy Manager (rmoon@DSMpartnership.com) to voice issues, ask questions and take advantage of other public policy resources.
Check out more info you want to add here: DSMpartnership.com/publicpolicy.
Creating a safe workplace for employees has always been important, but now it is more important than ever! The COVID-19 pandemic has created several new challenges, especially for businesses looking to reopen. Medicap Pharmacy is helping local employers bring their employees back to work, safely and confidently by offering on-site COVID vaccine clinics. Medicap Pharmacy has offered flu clinics to employers for many years and realize the role they play to help keep employees healthy.
“As a community pharmacist, we have an established relationship within our community, and we have been a trusted healthcare resource throughout the year, especially during flu season and the pandemic. And now it’s time to offer a shot of hope to local businesses who want to open their doors and bring their workforce back safely. We are equipped and ready to serve employers by offering electronic consent forms and convenient on-line scheduling,” said Cheri Schmit, Director of Clinical Pharmacy.
Returning to normal is something that everyone is ready to do, especially businesses who want to open their doors to customers and bring their employees back to work. To help do this, Medicap Pharmacy offers a link on their website making it easy and convenient for employers to request an on-site COVID clinic. Simply visit the website www.MyMedicapPharmacy.com and click on the “Employer COVID Clinic” tab to sign up.
Since 1971, Medicap Pharmacy has been a leading provider of pharmacy services, and helping Iowans feel their best has been a focus since the beginning. As residents of the communities they serve, Medicap Pharmacy has always been committed to assisting every patient that walks through their doors, and this commitment carries over to the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
About Medicap Pharmacy
GRX Holdings, LLC is in West Des Moines, IA and is the single overall owner of 22 pharmacies in central Iowa, including 20 retail locations, a long-term care pharmacy and a compounding pharmacy. Medicap Pharmacy is distinguished for its commitment to providing expert, personalized health care. In addition to filling prescriptions, GRX Medicap Pharmacy locations specialize in administering immunizations, health screenings and diabetes education. For more information, please call 515.280.2913 or e-mail email@example.com
A creative approach to teaching 5th grade band – from instrument tryout drive-through opportunities for students to driveway duets – has earned Elaine Menke of Lakewood Elementary School recognition as Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Menke was honored at the 28th annual Awards Banquet of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce on January 22.
An educator for 21 years and a member of the Lakewood faculty for the past four, Mrs. Menke turned the challenges of 2020 into new ways of learning music for 154 fifth graders at Lakewood. Her creative approach began last spring when she talked to fourth graders virtually about band and gave students the opportunity to try-out instruments safely outdoors at Lakewood.
“Some students knew what instruments they wanted to play, but for many who didn’t, we held a drive-through event where students could get a better feel for the instruments and see if they could make a good sound,” she said. “That hands-on experience helped students find their best fit which helps them and their family make a better choice of instrument to learn.”
Now as fifth graders, the students meet for weekly band lessons in small groups and slightly larger groups for band practice. “I’ve had to adjust and be creative in how I teach so we can safely play during Covid,” she said. This year, she notes, flutes seemed to be the favorite choice of students, compared to trumpets last school year.
“I try to make learning fun for them while also building their confidence while they learn,” she said. “I challenge them to learn new things, to develop their music reading skills and to make music as a team.”
She also encourages parents to make home practice fun by showing an interest in the student’s progress, getting sneak previews of what students are practicing in lessons or working on for concerts, and taking advantage of technology. “Technology is great,” she says. “Students can give a concert for their grandparents living far away through FaceTime or Zoom. It’s exciting for the family and the student to share their learning and it builds confidence at the same time.”
Mrs. Menke’s motivation to a career in education came from watching her mother, a mathematics instructor at the community college level, while she was growing up in Cedar Rapids. “We’d have a snow day and she’d take me to classes with her and I’d sit in the back of the room and loved seeing her teach.”
Mrs. Menke earned a bachelor of science degree in music education from the University of Northern Iowa and taught in Southeast Warren, Des Moines, North Polk, and Waukee districts before joining the Norwalk Community School district.
“Teaching at Lakewood is a great experience,” she says. “The staff is focused on making connections with students, are always open to new ideas and willing to try new things. This year has certainly been an experience of many new things.”
Students and families are looking forward to a special night: an evening of three concerts with the musicians divided into groups of approximately 50 for three identical live performances spaced over the evening. She said students performed at a school assembly earlier in December but the February 8 event will be their first “real concert.” This concert will also be live-streamed on the Norwalk Warriors Production YouTube page for family and friends unable to attend.
Mrs. Menke and her husband, Nick, have two sons in the Norwalk district. She isn’t the first member of her family to be named Norwalk Teacher of the Year. Nick, band director at Norwalk Middle and High School, earned the same honor from the Chamber in 2018.
Norwalk High School Senior Adam Serck has programmed a mobile wheelchair for a young child, rides a unicycle and has found time to earn college credit. Those achievements and more have earned him recognition from the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce as 2020 Student of the Year. Adam was honored at the Chamber’s 28th Annual Awards Celebration on January 22.
The son of Paul and Ricci Serck, Adam is focused on the college admission process as he prepares to graduate from NHS in May. Already on his resume is his status as a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship program which recognizes students with exemplary academic records and performance on standardized testing.
His ultimate goal is a career in computer programming and software development, experience he is already developing through the more than 20 credit hours of programming obtained through Des Moines Area Community College.
How can other students have a successful high school experience? His advice: “Figure out what makes you happy and do it. Don’t do what other people think you should do. That’s how I found programming. I liked it and I stuck with it,” he says.
He has put the programming expertise to work as a captain of a Norwalk RoboWarriors team, a group he’s been involved with for the past three years. The teams’ most notable achievement this past year has been building three small robotic wheelchairs for young children with disabilities. “I’m proud to say I did the programming which converted remote control buggies into small wheelchairs for very young children,” he says. “The wheelchairs, which the young kids can operate with a joystick, offer them a sense of independence they haven’t had before.”
The RoboWarriors completed the first wheelchair in September and built two more in November and December for area youngsters. The group, which has school sponsorship, has held fund-raisers and also received donations from supporters to fund the wheelchair projects. The projects have led to local television coverage and social media attention.
Adam is also busy currently working with the team to produce a robot for a worldwide competition, a challenge launched in September to build a robot that can pick up a series of rings in a timed activity. The NHS team qualified for the competition’s world championship event in 2019 and for the Iowa state championship event in 2020 when no world event was offered because of the pandemic.
Adam’s other success this past year has been learning to ride a unicycle which he received as a birthday gift. “It is like learning to ride a bicycle all over again but there’s a bike trail near my home and now I ride the unicycle on the trail and passersby sometimes tell me ‘way to go’ or give me a wave,” he says. As if he didn’t have enough other activities, Adam also runs cross country and plays the baritone in the NHS Band, an instrument the band had previously not had until he took it up.
In addition to Adam, the Chamber’s awards event honored Citizen of the Year Crystal Ellis, Teacher of the Year Elaine Menke, Chamber Member of the Year Simmie Buehler, Business of the Year Capital City Fruit and Pivot Award Winner Norwalk Community School District.
Norwalk’s Capital City Fruit lost nearly a third of its business in just one week in March when the food services industry – restaurants, hotels, hospitality companies - shut down due to Covid 19. The quick response of the company’s leadership and its 150 employees to move in new directions with new products and new delivery has been recognized with the 2020 Business of the Year Award by the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce.
The company, now in its 72nd year, had been distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and produce annually to dozens of clients, primarily in the Midwest. The dramatic changes impacting those businesses, such as elimination of indoor dining, had immediate impact on the company. So, leaders of the family-run business Brendan Comito, chief operating officer; Christian Comito, president & CEO; and Kieran Comito, vice president for purchasing, moved quickly.
“Within a week we implemented our first major change, selling produce via Big Commerce for delivery in Central Iowa,” Brendan Comito said. “We had previously tested the concept of selling nationwide through Amazon but now we had to move fast to implement.” The company first marketed fruit and vegetable products in Central Iowa, promising next day delivery. More products were added and eventually the company noticed some of its products, such as fruit baskets, were being sent to New York City hospitals and other groups fighting the virus.
A second major change followed quickly when the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Capital City Fruit a contract to produce food boxes for a USDA program that provides nutritious foods to food insecure families throughout the Midwest. “We were proud to be a part of that program,” Comito says, adding that he had visited several food box distribution sites and saw families who never expected they would face such problems receiving the food boxes.
A third positive impact for the company was participation in the Paycheck Protection Program of the Small Business Administration which enabled companies with less than 500 employees to secure very low interest loans for payroll and some other operating expenses. That program carried the company through Spring when other strategies of the business began having positive impact. “We did not have to lay off any employees and, in fact, we did some additional hiring over the summer due to our new products,” he said.
Capital City has continued to participate in later rounds of the USDA program as a sub-contractor providing fruits and vegetables to supplement boxes of protein-heavy foods like beef and chicken. In addition, the company has helped area food producers become sub-contractors for the E-commerce online store, such as Norwalk’s LaQuercia which makes high quality artisan salami and dry cured meats; another company that produces tofu products and another that sells plant based proteins.
At the same time, Capital City Fruit has continued a donation program to area non-profits which it implemented decades ago. Fruits and vegetables from growers are inspected on arrival and items that are less than perfect in appearance but still good quality and nutritious are set aside for donation to local organizations, such as the Salvation Army, DMARC Food Pantry, Catholic Worker House, St. Vincent de Paul Society and Food Bank of Iowa. “This is an important way to avoid food waste and meet the needs of families by helping these organizations provide good quality produce to their clients,” Comito said.
Comito praised Capital City Fruit employees for their flexibility in responding to the frequent changes in direction during the months of the pandemic. “I believe we have the best team in the entire produce industry right here in Norwalk,” he says. “They are ready for any challenge and we see a successful 2021 ahead for us. We are honored by the recognition from the Norwalk Area Chamber and we know there are many companies locally and regionally that have experienced challenges this past year. We share this honor with them.”
A Partnership Perk from the Greater Des Moines Partership
The Greater Des Moines Partnership has a Small Business Resources Hub to help small businesses grow. The Hub provides a one-stop-shop for small businesses to find resources relating to legal, accounting, finance, marketing, networking, staffing and hiring, and more. The creation of The Hub was the result of research-based decision-making that helped determine how to most effectively serve small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM).
The Hub provides a wealth of resources and helps build on DSM’s status as a great place to grow a small business, including technology companies that would be considered high growth-startup companies.
The Hub is easy to use, with categories organized based on research to help determine what is most useful for small businesses and how they can best find those resources. The Small Business Resources Hub can be accessed at DSMpartnership.com/growing-business-here/business-resources/small-business-resources.
Additionally through these unprecedented times for small businesses, The Partnership offers small business resources on it’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Hub to help them take steps that can help to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic as they continue to do business. Find resources to help your small business at DSMpartnership.com/covid-19/small-business-resources.
Norwalk Area Chamber President for 2020 Travis Stanley presents the Chamber’s 2020 Citizen of the Year Award to Crystal Ellis following the Chamber’s virtual awards event January 22.
As a volunteer for the Norwalk Area Ministerial Association, Crystal Ellis has become the community’s chief navigator, creative problem solver and moral support for hundreds of residents, leading to recognition by the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year for 2020 at the Chamber’s 28th annual Awards Banquet January 22.
Already a key link in the community for families needing assistance, the impact of the pandemic since Spring 2020 has made Crystal even busier making more of a difference. “My role has been to reach out to families who need help, who need a step up to get through this challenging time,” she says. “For many, that means help maneuvering the social services system, where to get help with rent, where to find affordable car repair, what groups can provide food assistance. The Norwalk Area Ministerial Association can help with many of these, too.”
As a result of Crystal’s leadership, hundreds of Warren County families have experienced support through various projects over the past 13 months. The Ministerial Association is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, meaning donations, which are essential for its services, may be tax deductible.
Well known among the Ministerial Association’s projects is the Association’s ministry through the Norwalk Area Food Pantry, hosted by New Life Lutheran Church. Getting food to families today involves new delivery methods and thankfully many donations, Crystal explains
“We have partnered with the Food Bank of Iowa since 2018, bringing a Mobile Food Pantry to Norwalk on even-numbered months. Since April, when in-person activities became limited for pandemic safety, we began drive-through food distributions with volunteers loading 40 to 50 pound boxes of food into client vehicles, an average 150 cars each month, to help area families,” she says. The boxes provide non-perishable goods, fresh produce, frozen meat, proteins, eggs and/or milk.
Another project under Crystal’s leadership has been organizing Food Rescue which involves deliveries of food to two subsidized apartment complexes in Norwalk. “With support and donations from Fareway and Kum & Go we deliver food items three times a week to the complexes, stocking refrigerators in their community rooms where residents select items without charge,” she explains.
Crystal again coordinated the 2020 Warrior Giving Project, the new name for the traditional Christmas-time donation partnership between Norwalk Community Schools and the Ministerial Association. In 2020 the project provided gifts to over 200 children and help for over 80 area families with necessary items, all donated by members of local churches, businesses and families. The Warrior Giving Project also coordinated the donations of 30 artificial Christmas trees to families who didn’t have trees to decorate until the group got involved.
After a career as a retail district manager and in banking plus 10 years as an education and outreach director for a local church, Crystal began volunteering with the Norwalk Area Ministerial Association full time. “I felt this was something God has called me to do and that I could contribute with my career background,” she says. “A big part of this role is logistics and I’ve learned that anything is possible with God’s guidance, volunteers and dedicated leadership. This community is so wonderful and it’s a long-standing part of our culture that we take care of each other. We know we need to lift each other up.”
Crystal was among six citizens and community organizations honored at the Chamber’s virtual event January 22. The Chamber honor is especially fitting for Crystal whose husband Jim Ellis was Norwalk Area Chamber president in 2000 in the early years of the awards program.
Pet Supplies Latest Way Norwalkians Can Help
The newest project of the Norwalk Area Ministerial Association – Warrior Giving Wednesday – will kick off with treats for a special audience: the pets of Norwalk area families.
The first Warrior Giving Wednesday, a new project to encourage donations to meet local needs, will be a pet supplies collection event on Wednesday, February 10. Donors are invited to drop off donations between 3:30 & 5:30 p.m. at Norwalk Christian Church, 701 Main St. Later in February, the items will be given to area families to help meet the needs of pets during pandemic challenges in their households.
Especially needed at the February 10 drop off are dog and cat food, both dry and canned, cat litter, dog and cat toys and treats. Volunteers will be on hand to help unload donations.
The February 10 event is the first in a series where donors can contribute such items as shoes, cleaning supplies and full-sized toiletries on the second Wednesday of each month. Watch the Warrior Giving Project Facebook page to see each month’s needs. The Norwalk Area Ministerial Association has a 501(c)3 designation so donations may be tax deductible.
At Medicap Pharmacy, we are honored to be able to provide vaccine and be a part of the solution to the pandemic. We are working extra hours to administer the vaccine as quickly as possible. We ask people to continue to have patience with us and the process as there is still a lot more demand than supply. Our pharmacies are experiencing a high volume of calls, and we encourage everyone to visit our website or your county’s public health website to stay informed. Our stores do not have waiting lists or any information that is different than what is shared on our website: https://www.mymedicappharmacy.com/factsaboutcovid-19vaccine
The vaccine is available by appointment only and based on vaccine availability. We cannot schedule appointments when we are out of vaccine. If there are no appointments available, if the calendar is disabled or if the form doesn’t allow submissions- this means that we are out of vaccine. Please check back periodically as additional appointments will be added as vaccine becomes available.
Please note: If you do schedule an appointment with us, we will reserve a dose of vaccine for you and there is no need to book an appointment at other vaccine providers. If for some reason our vaccine supply is short, we will give you priority with our next shipment and honor your appointment reservation.
We look forward to the day when we will have ample supply and be able to give a vaccine to everyone who wants one!
GRX Holdings, LLC is located in West Des Moines, IA and is the single overall owner of 22 pharmacies in central Iowa, including 20 retail locations, a long-term care pharmacy and a compounding pharmacy. Medicap Pharmacy is distinguished for its commitment to providing expert, personalized health care. In addition to filling prescriptions, GRX Medicap Pharmacy locations specialize in administering immunizations, health screenings and diabetes education. For more information, please call 515.440.1270 or