With a population of around 1,500 residents, leaders in the southwest Carroll County community of Manning are not striving to become one of the biggest cities in western Iowa, just one of the best.
“There has always been something special about Manning and its residents,” said Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa. “Several years ago I chaired the Iowa Great Places commission and was astonished at the vision of the community’s leaders. Manning has been acknowledged for all of its positive activities far more often than other communities its size during my six years with USDA.”
Earlier this year ongoing efforts to support the creation and growth of small and emerging businesses in the City of Manning were recognized when it was named 2015 Iowa SBA Small Business Community of the Year.
“We are excited to identify Manning for the many ways the community has leveraged a large number of programs and partners to create an ideal environment for small business,” said Jayne Armstrong, District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration. “Small business success depends on a strong economic development environment that supports start-ups and existing small businesses positioned for growth. This includes everything from access to capital, ordinances and regulations, special initiatives, a collaborative environment and advocacy.”
Manning was selected for this award by demonstrating an ideal collaborative environment for small business success, utilizing revolving loan funds, tax increment financing (TIF), Main Street program, Iowa Challenge Grants, tax abatement policies, funding from local utilities, community block grant programs and local community foundations.
“We’re fortunate to have generations of people that have worked hard for the successes that we are now realizing,” said Harvey Dales, Manning Mayor. “We’re honored to receive such recognition and hope that we can accept this with humility knowing that we’ve just begun.”
Manning’s leveraging of federal, state and local government programs, along with higher education and community resources was also recognized for helping the community create an ideal small business culture.
City leaders identified cultural, health care and education initiatives as critical resources for small business success.
One year ago Manning celebrated the opening of a new hospital for the community, replacing a facility that was built in 1927 and in need of significant facility upgrades. USDA Rural Development provided a $21 million direct loan to assist with the new hospital in the community.
“The new Manning Regional Healthcare Center has been transformational for the community,” Menner said. “Healthcare is a critical element in rural communities, and Manning now has a facility that is state-of-the-art. Residents in that area can count on quality care and anyone looking to live in that area cannot help but be impressed.”
The vision for Manning went far beyond the new hospital.
“The Main Street organization has done amazing things engaging residents and with business development, façade improvements and community activities,” Menner said. “This recognition as the Small Business Community of the Year was very well deserved.”
USDA Rural Development financing programs have also been used to help establish multiple revolving loan funds in Manning as well. As the original loan funds are paid back to the local fund administrators new loans are made to support additional projects and ventures in the community.
“Helping to establish revolving loan funds is an important way USDA helps improve economic opportunities in rural Iowa,” Menner added. “There is no limit to the number of businesses that can be assisted as these funds are continually revolved and lent back out.”
Manning was selected for the SBA award this year among 11 nominations from small towns, larger cities and regional economic corridors from throughout the state
“Manning has chosen to thrive rather than simply survive,” said Ron Reischl, Board President, Main Street Manning. “We have a generations-long history of city and citizens’ active involvement in community improvement and economic development projects. Manning’s businesses and their employees have benefited in many ways, resulting in a vibrant small business environment. ”
Today, more than 200,000 small businesses all around Iowa represent the heart and soul of state’s economy.
“Small business owners are very special people,” Armstrong added. “Their work ethic, vision and willingness to take risks should be embraced and celebrated. Their commitment to their employees creates a sense of family in their communities, which are often their hometowns. Indeed, Iowa has one of the richest histories of family-owned businesses in America.”