Winn-Worth Counties - Where the Community Supports Young Professionals to Grow and Thrive

Winn-Worth Counties - Where the Community Supports Young Professionals to Grow and Thrive Main Photo

25 Oct 2022


Life in Winnebago and Worth counties is thriving, so it should come as no surprise that young professionals and business owners are doing well too. Today’s young professionals are tomorrow’s leaders, so laying the groundwork for a robust, well-planned future can not only benefit individuals but also the community. 

The Winn-Worth Betco region has been ideal for growing businesses and for growing families too. Great schools, low housing prices, scholarships for graduating seniors, outdoor recreation, entertainment, restaurants, shops, and even a casino work to create a vibrant lifestyle reminiscent of a much larger city. Our communities offer the best of both worlds—a hometown atmosphere combined with big city amenities. 

For Melissa Moretz, who is working as AVP Lending Relationship Officer with First Citizens Bank in Mason City, Iowa, the best part about living in the Winn-Worth Betco area is that she knows her neighbors and can call on them in times of need. Moretz says the peace of mind that comes with living in a small town is “immense.” Here is what this young professional has to say about her life in the Winn-Worth Betco region: 

Formative years and education: “I grew up just outside of Stacyville, IA, and graduated from St. Ansgar Community School in 2012. From there, I went to NIACC and obtained my AA before transferring to Iowa State University. At Iowa State, I completed my degree in Agriculture Education and taught ag classes, and was an FFA advisor for one year prior to starting with First Citizens.” 

On coming back home: “I believe that there is quite a bit of opportunity in North Central Iowa right now. Personally, our bank is looking to expand several departments as our business grows. I do think that our communities have made great strides in encouraging people to come back home or for individuals to move to our area and work. We offer a lower cost of living compared to more urban areas, quality school districts for our children, have expanded our daycare capacity in my hometown, and have competitive jobs available. Many of these opportunities were made possible by grant funding from local organizations as well as the state.” 

Current roles and responsibilities: “I have been with First Citizens for a little over five years, and I am currently serving as a lending relationship officer. What this comes down to is two separate pieces, in my opinion. Part one is that I am a leader in the community I live and serve in, and so I get to work with farmers and commercial business owners each day. I work alongside them to meet their financing needs through various programs, including Small Business Administration (SBA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan packages. These types of programs allow for new businesses and/or beginning farmers to take advantage of competitive rates and often give them the chance to finance a
higher portion of their purchases. As many are aware, the barriers to entry, especially in agriculture, are often the capital it takes to start. These programs help make it possible, and our bank is a preferred lender with each of these organizations. The second piece of my job includes working alongside other lenders to help underwrite their requests and monitor borrower financials. This is the role I started in 5 years ago, and today I continue to help with this part-time on larger and more complex credits within our organization.” 

On living in the Winn-Worth area: “I am a young professional, who is raising two children, and in the beginning phases of our own farming operation. The phrase “it takes a village” reigns true in our household and being in a small community, I truly feel that support each day. Now that my children are in the school system, I appreciate that they can grow and learn in small class sizes where they get one on one attention as needed, and I have access to their teachers when I have questions or need some extra input. Lastly, our small towns have rallied around others in need, from the “Holiday Hope” event that started in 2020 to help families facing difficult times to now being a part of a large group raising funds to begin an ag education program in Manly, people step up when they are called on.” 

Is there more of a sense of peace here? “Absolutely! We live just outside of a small town for several reasons, and this is at the top of the list. I don’t feel that I have the constant worry over my children that I think I might in a more urban area. They have so much room to run, learn and play!” 

On goals for herself and the community: “Some of the goals I have personally are to continue to serve my current customer base at the bank and build more relationships that lead to opportunities that I can help others grow their businesses and in turn grow their communities. I want to see the Winn-Worth area grow and thrive over the next several years, so there is an opportunity for my children to come back home and make a good living. Part of that for my husband and I is focusing on that not only later in life when we are ready to transition our farming operation but continuously thinking about it with each business decision we make, how can we improve our operation to make room for our children.” 

On her hobbies: “In my spare time, I spend most of it on the farm working with our livestock (pigs and cattle) to grow our operation for what I hope will be future generations. This past year I completed my first Triathlon very close to home in Clear Lake.” 

On her children leading a secure life: “My children are leading a very secure life, in my opinion. We have family within a mile from home and very good neighbors and friends to call on. The kids have enjoyed building those relationships, and it would not be possible if we lived somewhere else.” 

On community support: “I think our community has done great things to improve our towns, for example, taking the old lumber yard in Northwood and creating a wedding venue. This brings people into our community for a weekend, giving business opportunities to our main streets! This would not have been possible without several community members pulling together, and I think we all need to keep in mind that type of attitude in the future!” 

And finally,

What makes the Winn-Worth Betco area a great place for professionals to grow and thrive? “This is a great place for me as a young professional in banking because people are ambitious and entrepreneurial-minded. Our communities are welcoming of this, and there are several incentives for businesses to be in this area. Promoting those opportunities, I believe, can ultimately lead other young professionals to make our area their home.” 

Winnebago and Worth Counties Enjoy a Low Cost of Living 

Those looking for a good job will find one in the Winn-Worth area. Our employers are hiring, and the cost of living benefits apply to you as well. We invite you to discover all that our communities have to offer. Contact us for more information here. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter!

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