The Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Wednesday visited two new businesses and another business where they welcomed a new employee.
Three of four years ago, that statement would have seemed an impossibility. But people are starting up new businesses in Estherville, invigorated by a brisk trade with new people moving to town and a strong ag and renewable energy economy bolstered by the presence of Iowa Lakes Community College and other large businesses.
The Ambassadors Wednesday first visited Kelly Nissen and Jerod Arrowood at Excel Plumbing & Heating. While Nissen and Arrowood service customers throughout the region, 80 percent of their business is right here in Estherville.
From there the Ambassadors went to welcome Nissen's wife, Jill, who is now working at Bob Jensen Insurance Agency on Central Avenue.
After that, the Ambassadors went to Epic Fashions at 502 Central Ave. Owner Megan Huntley is probably typical of a lot of the ambitious young entrepreneurs in Estherville. She's dietary director at the Estherville Good Samaritan Society in addition to opening her new store that features smart, affordable women's fashions.
They say if you pound something often enough, finally something will give. And that's what's happening with Estherville. People have put a lot of work into making ours a better community. Over the last 10 years, we've added several great businesses on the east end of Central Avenue, cleaned up the old Morrell's site and Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative put up a new building there, new businesses have come to the west side of town, there are few empty buildings downtown, and the ones that are empty have their windows filled with art thanks to the Estherville Art Center's storefront art project. And we have a great Regional Wellness Center just across the street from the college that's been named as a handful of training sites for science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Iowa.
We have a new middle school with other school buildings remodeled, Excel! Estherville which is promoting the community, successful housing rehabilitation projects, a great addition at Avera Holy Family Health and wonderful cultural events thanks to the Excel! Estherville Arts and Culture Committee. And there are four great signs at each of Estherville's four entrances welcoming people to the community.
And people have noticed. That's why they're starting up businesses and raising families here. One area realtor said homes in the $200,000-plus range are selling as fast as they can get on the market.
And this just didn't happen. It's the result of the hard work of dedicated people who refused to let Estherville die but breathed new life into it.
They've pushed the boulder to the top of the hill. Now watch it roll.