Through the dual membership with the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce
and Greater Des Moines Partnership, you have access to numerous educational and professional development offerings throughout the year. Offerings span a wide variety of topics, including marketing plans, implementing internships, human resource issues and inclusion. These educational opportunities are offered both via webinar and in person. The goal is to provide you with just-in-time information on pertinent business operations and emerging trends, but also to encourage you to step outside of your business for an hour or a day to recharge or bring back new ideas to your business.
This year, we are excited to offer two series focusing on small business.
The First Friday Series features interviews from savvy, successful small business
owners in Greater Des Moines (DSM) on the first Friday of every month. The First Friday series allows for attendees to catch words of wisdom from small business owners who have been through it before and connect with fellow attendees in a laid-back environment.
The Top Five for Small Business Series focuses on issues that small businesses face.
The series features presentations to inform, educate and inspire business owners in
DSM. The events focus on a variety of timely topics that affect small business owners
and managers including legal, human resources, information technology, marketing,
accounting and other pressing issues.
To learn more about these opportunities and other events, visit
Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. This holds true for Greater Des Moines (DSM).
There are more than 265,000 small businesses in Iowa making up 99.3 percent of all businesses. Together, they employ 641,000 people, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Added to that, 78 percent of all new jobs are created by family businesses. Small businesses add jobs at the quickest rate.
With small business being so vital to the local community and economy, it begs the question: What would happen to your business if you weren’t able to make it to work on Monday? Having a succession plan in place is a vital part of ensuring your business remains in business. Does your business pass the “hit-by-a-bus” test?
According to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), 40.3 percent of family-owned businesses are looking to retire in the immediate future. However, 47 percent of those same businesses do not have a successor lined up.
Taking on an established business is a great opportunity for people to build and to be their own boss. On the other hand, identifying a successor can be stressful within a family.
There is a disconnect between those wanting to sell their business and those wanting to take on an established business. The Greater Des Moines Partnership is using this as an opportunity to connect both sides. We’ve put together a Succession Planning Advisory Network (SPAN) made up of individuals with experience in succession planning; either for their own businesses or on behalf of others. They are available to provide assistance and answer questions for businesses looking at the next chapter of ownership.
Find additional information here and click on the Succession Planning tab or to read the article click here.
Orchard Hills Elementary celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony with the members of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce on July 31st at 5:30 pm. Chamber members enjoyed a sneak peek tour of this amazing facility. Orchard Hills Elementary will open for the 2019-2020 school year. Congratulations to the Norwalk Community School District on beautiful and innovative facility for our community.
DES MOINES: The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University will recognize 12 Iowa individuals and groups with awards for exceptional character this month. The 2019 Iowa Character Awards ceremony will be held Friday, July 26, at The Meadows Events and Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa.
The Ray Center’s top award, the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character, will be issued to Ray Cole of Clive. Ray is President & Chief Operating Officer of Citadel Communications Company. An Iowa native from Kingsley, Ray attended Briar Cliff College (now Briar Cliff University) where he graduated with honors. While at Briar Cliff, Ray completed an internship at KCAU-TV, the ABC affiliate in Sioux City. This opportunity propelled him into a career in broadcasting that now spans nearly 40 years.
A longtime supporter of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center, Ray has advanced the work of CHARACTER COUNTS! forward for many years with his support of the All-Star Evening fundraiser. Leveraging his own personal and professional connections, Ray gives generously to
support The Ray Center’s efforts to improve civility through character development and ethical leadership. Each year, Ray secures a high-profile ESPN representative to attend the annual fundraiser and provides exclusive auction packages such as VIP experiences at American Idol, the ESPY Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards.
Ray also demonstrates good character through his leadership and civic engagements. He currently serves on the Board of Governors for ABC Television Network, the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Ray was inducted into the Iowa Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
Awards will be issued in 10 additional categories:
Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award:
Alicia Kamran, Norwalk
Citizen of Character:
Lois Turnage, Pleasantville
Jordan George, Des Moines
Business/Organization of Character:
The Job Foundation, Cedar Falls
Julie Kopecky, Dallas Center
Communities of Character:
Educator of Character:
Corwin (Corky) Stewart, Brooklyn
Partner of the Year:
Iowa Bankers Association, Johnston
Pursuing Victory with Honor:
Lynnville-Sully Football Program
School of Character:
Lakewood Elementary, Norwalk
Student Team/Organization of Character:
The Ray Center annually recognizes Iowans who show the Six Pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship. Since 2005, the organization has recognized more than 100 Iowans for showing good character.
The 2019 Iowa Character Awards are presented by Hy-Vee, KDSM-TV, CJM Financial and The Des Moines Register.
The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center, Iowa’s home for the CHARACTER COUNTS! and Excellence with Integrity programs, provides character and leadership development strategies to improve civility and develop ethical leaders throughout the world. The Ray Center honors two of Drake’s most respected alumni—Robert D. and Billie Ray—whose humanitarian efforts, character, and leadership set an inspirational example for multiple generations.
Norwalk will celebrate as the Hometown for Heroes when 10,000-plus bicyclists and their support crews pedal into town on Tuesday, July 23, on RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. How does the community claim the title?
“We’re proud to be a community known for heroes of all types, not just our celebrity heroes like Brandon Routh and Jason Momoa, as much as we love them, “says RAGBRAI Committee Co-Chair Jaki Livingston.
“We chose our theme – Hometown for Heroes – because we want to emphasize that there are many, many amazing people in our community who do heroic acts every day,” she adds. “We recognize that our heroes certainly include educators, law enforcement, firefighters and EMS, active duty and veterans of the military, business owners and their staffs, the medical community and caregivers, members of the clergy, volunteers, active families and especially neighbors helping neighbors. We ARE a Hometown for these heroes and many more.”
Co-chair Jim Lane agrees: “RAGBRAI gives us the perfect opportunity to salute all the people in Norwalk who make this a special community. We will celebrate our successes as thousands of visitors enjoy music, great Iowa food, photo opportunities, and more at a day-long event.”
Riding by Freedom Rock
Lane notes that RAGBRAI’s route has been changed to allow bicyclists to visit the Warren County Freedom Rock at Warrior Run on the edge of Norwalk. Previously, riders were to head south a mile sooner but now can stop for photo opportunities at the 10-ton boulder painted by artist Bubba Sorenson commemorating the USS Iowa and a Warren County soldier heroic in World War II.
Livingston and Lane cited just a few of the local heroes who will be saluted throughout the day from the music stage in City Park
“RAGBRAI could not come to Norwalk at a more exciting time,” Livingston said. “We have so much to celebrate and so much happening. Now we get to share our community with people from all over the world who come to Iowa for RAGBRAI.”
RAGBRAI riders will hear other good news about Norwalk, Lane says:
Join us Tuesday, July 23rd for a fun-filled Norwalk celebration!
As one of the nation's fastest growing centers for business, Greater Des Moines (DSM) understands and endorses the importance of maintaining a vibrant and diverse workplace.
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. Greater Des Moines Partnership offers a variety of programs to help you attract and retain diverse talent in your organizations, including:
The Inclusion Award honors employers who have championed diversity and inclusion at their businesses and organizations, and in the community. To see a list of past winners and to apply for the Inclusion Award, please go to https://www.dsmpartnership.com/about/award-applications--winners. Applications are open until July 22 until 5 p.m.
The Partnership's Multicultural Receptions offer a unique opportunity to connect with community leaders and organizations that have an inclusive focus, all with the hope that through an environment of connectivity and inclusion we can retain this very important workplace population in our community. The Multicultural Receptions take place every February, May, August and November. The next Multicultural Reception and Roundtable will be on August 22. Registration will open in July. More information can be found here.
In an effort to promote inclusion best practices in the community, The Partnership's Inclusion Council offers a Webinar Educational Series. To access past webinars and resources, visit https://www.dsmpartnership.com/growing-business-here/business-resources/talent-development-resources/inclusion.
INclusion celebrates the rich cultural traditions of the region's African-American, African, Asian, European, Latino and Native American residents. The magazine also includes sections about Des Moines' diverse faith community, accessibility for the disabled, opportunities for those in the military, veterans, young and retired professionals and the region's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities.
For more information on any of these offerings, please visit https://www.dsmpartnership.com/growing-business-here/business-resources/talent-development-resources/inclusion.
Now marking its 70th year, Norwalk-based Capital City Fruit defines its mission as putting “exceptionally fresh” fruits and vegetables on the tables of American families. That commitment has guided the company since its 1949 founding and its move to Norwalk in 1982, one of several companies helping build the community into a center of food production in Central Iowa.
“We’re proud to be in Norwalk and we see the community becoming a food production hub, thanks to our central location, our outstanding workforce and our growing community,” says Brendan Comito, chief operating officer.
The company’s legacy began in 1949 in Des Moines when Joseph T. Comito and Ross and Bernard Grandanette opened a food stand on downtown site that gave way to I-235, prompting a move to SE14th Street. By the 1980’s under the leadership of Joseph M. Comito, the company foresaw growth, purchased land in Norwalk and relocated with 11 employees to a facility on North Avenue.
Brendan Comito, and his brothers Christian Comito, who is President and CEO, and Kieran Comito, who is vice president for purchasing, bought the company in 2008. “By 2010 we knew we needed more space to meet growth so we acquired 18 acres that had been the Holland Family farmland,” Comito said. The company moved to 1850 Colonial Parkway in October 2012.
Today, the 83,000-square foot office, production and warehouse facility has the equivalent of almost two acres under one roof where 150 employees source, package and distribute thousands of tons of fresh fruit and vegetables annually. Produce is sourced from across North America, but Capital City does offer a robust locally-grown program with producers from Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin, Comito says.
“Because we focus on freshness we can source and customize products to exactly what the customer needs, such as tomatoes of consistent size and quality that restaurants can slice quickly to fit perfectly atop a cheeseburger,” he adds. “We have a very perishable product. We move fast and we prioritize food safety with freshness and quality. We don’t cut corners in food safety or occupational safety for our customers and our teams.”
Team members sort and repack the food with a turn-around time of mere hours to a few days, depending on the item, assuring the exceptional freshness to be delivered to institutional users such as hospitals and schools, retail buyers like HyVee, and Fareway and hotel and restaurant chains.
The company is about to launch a new product nationwide – fresh fruit baskets - after extensive research and testing. “We’re excited to bring this product to Norwalk to demonstrate the quality we deliver with speed and freshness,” Comito says.
Capital City Fruit has experience in the field through its subsidiary Four Seasons Fundraising which supports annual food sales campaigns by school districts, bands and choirs, scout troops and churches, usually in the Fall, leading to three very-busy weeks for production and distribution between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, he says.
The Comitos have been active in industry organizations and are proponents of initiatives to encourage consumers to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Consumption is currently averaging two and a half servings a day, well below the recommended guidelines of five to 10 servings a day.
“Optimum health would be achieved, especially for children, if people ate more fruit and vegetables. The benefits are well researched and we also know in the industry that there are positive impacts for schools in student behavior and performance when students are served more fruits and vegetables each day,” Comito says. “It’s a critical issue and we want to be in the forefront of encouraging healthy eating, especially of fruits and vegetables.”
Members of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce are automatically Members of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. We collaborate with The Partnership to provide you with tools and resources to make your business more successful.
The Partnership’s DSM USA Research, Stats and Data Hub is a statistical dashboard filled with rich information within the region. Users will find leading indicators along with research and data trends needed to make strategic business decisions. The site offers current economic, demographic and workforce information sourced from official government data on the five-county Des Moines MSA and six nearby counties.
All of the research is accessible free of charge, and is presented in an easy-to-use format. Charts and data can be captured and used in other presentations.
The Data Hub is another way that Chamber Members are able to tap into information and resources available through The Partnership’s regional network.
Additional graphs and resources are available at www.datadsmusa.com.
For more information contact:
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 13, 2019
NORWALK AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE JOINED DSM USA LEADERS TO PROMOTE REGIONAL PRIORITIES ON THE PARTNERSHIP’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY DMDC TRIP
Norwalk, IA (June 13, 2019) – More than 175 Greater Des Moines (DSM) business, civic and regional community leaders traveled on May 8 – 10 to the nation’s capital and presented a federal public policy agenda to promote regional policy priorities and economic development projects during the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s 40th annual DMDC trip in Washington, D.C. Eric Simon attended the trip, representing NACC and the issues important to the region. The Partnership delegation is one of the nation’s largest representations of Chamber of Commerce constituents to Capitol Hill. Trip attendees heard from and interacted with members from Iowa’s Congressional delegation, Congressional members from around the U.S. and a slate of policy experts from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Throughout the three-day trip, participants had an opportunity to advocate for key issues facing DSM. Participants met with members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation and their staffs.
“We come together as one region with one voice to advocate for our region’s priorities during DMDC,” said Kathryn Kunert, Vice President, Economic Connections and Integration at MidAmerican Energy Company and The Partnership’s 2019 Board Chair. “While our attendees completed their work in D.C, the effort to sustain this momentum has just begun and we need the help of our Affiliate Chamber of Commerce Members to realize these goals.”
The Partnership hosted keynote speakers including Iowa’s Congressional members and other Congressional members including U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R – NE) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY). Workshops focused on immigration and affordable housing.
While in D.C., The Partnership recognized Stacey Pellett, State Public Affairs Manager at John Deere and Chair of The Partnership’s Government Policy Council (GPC), with the newly named Michael Sadler Public Policy Award. Sadler, who passed away in 2018, was a past GPC Chair and Board Member of The Partnership, and a long-time attendee of DMDC.
2019 sponsors included Shazam, Inc., Prairie Meadows, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, Nyemaster Goode, P.C., Delta Dental of Iowa, Innovate Iowa, PolicyWorks, Principal, The Weitz Company, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Davis Brown Law Firm, Iowa Housing Partnership, Wells Fargo & Co. and the Des Moines International Airport.
Inquiries or requests for more information should be directed to Lucinda Sperry at (515) 981-0619 or email@example.com.
Norwalk and its Chamber of Commerce members will welcome 10,000-plus bicyclists and support crews of families and friends Tuesday, July 23, when RAGBRAI, the annual cross-state bicycle tour sponsored by The Des Moines Register rolls through town. Awaiting them will be a full-day of activities, including traditional Iowa foods, live music, vendors and activities.
A volunteer committee, headed by City Council Member Jaki Livingston and Insurance Executive Jim Lane, has been working since March to stage a day that is both fun and safe.
Numerous local and regional organizations and businesses are planning activities to entertain riders and the support crews of family and friends who will accompany them on the ride which begins July 21 in Council Bluffs.
Norwalk activities will center on a RAGBRAI zone from Highway 28/Sunset at North on the west to North Avenue/R-57 on the east with most activities along North Avenue from Main Street to Cherry Street. Bands will perform throughout the day from a stage in City Park and food vendors will fill the Norwalk Easter Public Library grounds. Dr. Donna Grant is leading the entertainment committee and promises the best live music on the entire 427-mile RAGBRAI route. Featured performers will be Punching Pandas, PianoPalooza and Dan Trilk and the Trilk School of Rock.
Riders are expected to begin arriving in Norwalk before 10 a.m. after an overnight stay in Winterset and activities in the pass-through town of Cumming and to depart Norwalk for Indianola beginning at 3:30 p.m. Riders must leave the community by 5 p.m.
“Then will kick off another party, a free evening appreciation event to thank the community for giving the riders a memorable day in Norwalk,” Grant said. At 6 p.m. entertainment will move to the City State Bank parking lot where PianoPalooza will perform live and food booths and more will set up.
Watch for more details on activities, entertainment, volunteer opportunities and vendors.