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Affiliate Chamber Spotlight: Madison County Chamber of Commerce

Madison County Chamber in DSM USA

July 12, 2017

Elected leader for 2017: Jerry Parkin, Board Co-Chair

Professional staff leader of the Chamber:  Heather Riley, Executive Director

Number of members: 252

Madison County Chamber of Commerce Q&A

Why should someone join your Chamber?    

Membership in the Madison County Chamber of Commerce offers exceptional opportunities for networking, visibility and referrals within the business community. Our primary mission is to generate more business activity for the community, and our organization initiates a significant amount of business-to-business commerce and opportunities for networking and connecting with local professionals.

We communicate weekly to the membership through the Chamber Chat newsletter, which includes member information, tips for business owners, details about chamber-sponsored and community events and a platform to celebrate members’ successes. Additionally, we gather each Friday morning at a different member business for Chamber Coffee events, which offer pre-work networking and opportunities for member businesses to showcase facilities, operations and staff.  

What is your Chamber’s biggest accomplishment in the past 12 months?  

In February of 2017, we launched a complete renovation of our Welcome Center area to better accommodate visitors to Madison County and promote local commerce. The renovation was completed within three months and included upgraded lighting, cabinetry and fixtures, as well as refinished wood floors and fresh paint. We utilized all local resources and craftsmen and have seen a 55 percent increase in retail sales since the renovation. The spirit of historic renovation is at a feverish pitch in Madison County, and we are excited to do our part and contribute to the wave of preservation that has swept through our community!

Madison County Visitors CenterAny initiative or project that you are looking forward to in 2017?  

We are wildly excited to now be part of the Iowa Scenic Byways system and will proudly unveil the Covered Bridges Byway this fall!  Stakeholder meetings were held last spring to educate the community about what’s in store, and we were thrilled with the positive response. A Covered Bridges Byways Commission has been formed to develop interpretive themes, which will guide visitors in their search for meaning in objects, places and landscapes. We will use the Covered Bridges Byway to tell Madison County’s stories in terms of our ties to American icons, our exceptional native limestone, the wealth of storytellers that have emerged from our community (with unique places in American history and culture) and the lives of Madison County pioneers.

What upcoming events should people watch for?    

Madison County will host Hinterland Music Festival (August 4 – 5) as well as IowaStock 2017 – All Iowa Music and Arts Fair (Labor Day Weekend, September 1 – 4). On September 16 and 17, Winterset will host the Where Madison County Creates event, highlighting local studio artists and featuring an airing of quilts, which will make a colorful and visually-exciting display on our courthouse square. Additionally, our 48th Annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival is October 14 and15, and we will welcome thousands of visitors to our community to celebrate Madison County’s history, heritage and world-famous covered bridges. New in 2018 is a return visit from Winterset native, Sarah Zahn, who many will remember as the teenage Caroline character from the movie “The Bridges of Madison County.” Sarah is an accomplished musician and will perform for the Festival crowd on both Saturday and Sunday.

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

Jerry Parkin

Jerry graduated from Iowa State University, and has a Master's Degree from Drake University. Now retired, Jerry served as a lobbyist for John Deere for 23 years and currently serves as vice president of the John Wayne Birthplace Society and is a member of the Iowa State Fair board of directors. Visit MadisonCounty.com.