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2022 Affiliate Chamber Spotlight: Pella Area Community & Economic Alliance

PACE 2022

April 18, 2022

Chamber Name + Website

Pella Area Community & Economic (PACE) Alliance

Elected Leader for 2022

Mark Putnam, President of Central College & Chair of the Board for PACE Alliance

Professional Staff Leader of the Chamber

Karen Eischen, Executive Director

Number of Members

305 Members

How Does a Business Join Your Chamber?

Businesses and organizations can visit the “join the PACE Alliance tab at pella.org, email info@pella.org or call our office at (641) 628-2626.

What Inspired You to First Get Involved with Your Chamber?

Colleges and universities often serve as?anchor institutions for the surrounding community. We?are uniquely?positioned to assist in convening community, civic and business leaders and can often provide resources such as?faculty?and staff expertise and volunteer support, as well as space for?various events and activities. Serving as?president of Central College is a?natural fit for me to be actively involved in?the PACE Alliance. ?

What is a Signature Offering of Your Chamber?

The PACE Alliance collaborates with our members to leverage talents and resources within our community to identify needs then create innovative programs, initiatives and strategies that support employers and employees in reaching their highest potential.

What is Your Chamber’s Biggest Accomplishment in the Past 12 Months?

The first is our partnership with The Retail Coach, a consulting firm that analyzes trade area and market demographics through research and data collection (i.e., geofencing). We hired The Retail Coach to gather and analyze data pinpointing our area's business needs, gaps and diversity. We provide this data to business owners, investors, organizations and our city to use in their decision process when considering Pella for their next move. The results were exciting! We added 52 individual businesses to Pella, including Chick-fil-A and Smash Park.

We look forward to the positive impact this will have on our community in workforce attraction and retention.

The second major accomplishment was receiving the Rural Return Grant from the Governor's Empower Rural Iowa Initiative. We received the total amount requested, $20,000. The PACE Alliance, local companies and the City of Pella added an additional $22,000 to expand the reach of our digital campaign for the program. The incentive program we developed with this grant is the Make Your Move program. The program has two parts, the first is a digital marketing campaign to put Make Your Move ads in front of people who have previously lived, worked or attended school in Pella. If those people return to live in Pella, they are eligible to apply for the incentive portion of the program. The incentive is recreation-based. Pella is blessed to have Lake Red Rock, bike trails, two golf courses, paddle boarding, disc golf, two fitness centers, yoga and more. We look to highlight these assets to encourage folks to return to Iowa to live and work. Each chosen applicant will receive a $500 gift card to a recreational business or experience of choice selected from a list of participating PACE Alliance members.

What Initiative/Project Are You Looking Forward to in the Upcoming Year?

As we develop the workforce-friendly atmosphere in Pella, we look to new ideas to engage the community. With almost 10% of Pella's population residing on Central College's campus, we are focusing efforts to engage these students with Pella's business opportunities and lifestyle.

To help students explore Pella, we created the Backstage Pass program. We worked with Central College to develop this idea. Backstage Pass is a group of Central College students who serve as micro-influencers within the community. Businesses hire these Backstage Pass "Rockstars" to attend their events, post on social media about the event, create a buzz and encourage other students and their families to attend. The purpose is to engage the student body further and integrate them within the community in hopes that they will consider staying after college and becoming part of our workforce.

What Partnership Tools/Resources Have Been Most Beneficial to Your Chamber Members?

The Partnership’s educational events offer our members of any size opportunities to learn strategies, tools or techniques to challenges that face all companies. In addition, the events also provide an opportunity to network with other business owners who share common challenges and can help each other work through issues.

What Are Your Upcoming Events?

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the fourth largest regional Chamber of Commerce in the nation. Learn more about Partnership Affiliate Chambers, browse the Membership Directory and read additional Affiliate Chamber spotlights.

Karen Eischen

Karen Eischen, Executive Director of the Pella Area Community & Economic Alliance, brings 25+ years of industry expertise. Driven by a commitment to community advancement, she catalyzes ideas into reality through collaborations and partnerships. Karen specializes in identifying locations for new and expanding businesses and facilitating smooth transitions for Pella newcomers.