Director Durham visits Lake Mills

Director Durham visits Lake Mills Main Photo

24 May 2023

News, Blog

Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and of the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) along with IEDA Business Development Project Manager Beth Balzer and Senior Policy and Partnership Manager for IEDA Deanna Triplett met with various members of the Lake Mills Community on Thursday May 11th. 

Led by Lake Mills Chamber Development Corporation Executive Director, Cassie Johnson, and Winn-Worth Betco Executive Director, Melissa Michaelis, the group met at Swallow Coffee House with Julie Connor, owner of David’s Marketplace. Julie shared with Director Durham and the group how she and her husband Casey became grocery store owners in Lake Mills, and have since taken ownership of three more grocery stores in rural Iowa communities. 

All States Ag Parts was the next stop for the group. At ASAP, you can find parts for all makes and models of agricultural, industrial and construction equipment  including parts for top manufacturers of late model equipment, as well as parts for antique equipment from obsolete manufacturers.  ASAP came to Lake Mills as a referral through Winn-Worth Betco in 2016 from Justin Erickson at Community Venture Network, now Brookshire Company and is housed in the former Cummins building. ASAP has utilized most of the building and still has truckloads of parts to inventory at this location; one out of 16 locations throughout the US. Casey Singlestad and Rob Hughes gave a tour of the entire facility showcasing the mountains of racking full of parts where there once were four production lines of oil filters just a decade ago. The on site photo room was intriguing as the photographer used software specifically designed for this operation.

The next industry tour transpired at Dielectric Manufacturing. Daryl Groe, General Manager and Amber Fry met with the group to show some of the products the company produces. After the tour of the facility, David Pozorski, Chief Operating Officer, joined the group via zoom to discuss the pro-business environment Iowa provides.

Erich Stene hosted the group and many members of the Lake Mills City Council and staff for lunch at Tim’s Corner. Erich is a current Community Catalyst applicant and provided a tour of the building to those who desired to see it. Director Durham and Mayor Scott Flugum among others at the table shared in discussion thoughts and processes of state programs the city may qualify for or could take part in. Director Durham shared how other communities were able to accomplish some of the same goals those present had in mind.

Director Durham and her team were able to tour the former Larson Building along with Michaelis and Johnson before exploring the Lake Mills Theater. The theater is owned by Lake Mills Entertainment Inc., a non-profit organization who restored and rebuilt the theater which opened originally in 1937. It reopened again to the public in July of 2008 being able to seat about 200 people. Teresa Nicholson, LMEI Board Secretary and former Executive Director of Winn-Worth Betco was able to guide the tour. Unique to small town theaters, the second screen was added in 2012 and seats approximately 90 people.

Five Alarm Brewing Company opened for a small gathering. Director Durham was given a short tour by Jason Peterson, one of four local firefighters who turned an empty building into a brewery and opened for business in December of 2017. Past directors of Winn-Worth Betco Lisa Kremer (now at Grow Buchanan), Dave Brunsvold, Beth Bilyeu (now at Forest City Economic Development), and Teresa Nicholson (now at Good Steward Consulting) spent some time reminiscing at the brewery.

The evening was capped off as Winn-Worth Betco celebrated 30 years at Diamond Jo Casino. Coloff Digital in Forest City, a division of Coloff Media produced a video that debuted at the event interviewing all 4 past directors and Michaelis herself on the history of Winn-Worth Betco. With over 140 in attendance, Michaelis interviewed Director Durham about the economics of the state of Iowa. Director Durham spoke about some state initiatives IEDA and IFA are excited about. Infrastructure was also a major topic of discussion as housing and childcare can fall under this category. Attendees which included state partners, local and regional elected officials, and representatives from major industries in and around the two county region were offered the chance to ask Director Durham questions directly.  

Winn-Worth Betco and Lake Mills Chamber Development Corporation would like to thank all who offered their time to meet with Director Durham and her team as well as all who were able to attend the event that evening.

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