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Affiliate Chamber Spotlight: Pella Area Community & Economic Alliance

Pella Chamber Spotlight

August 22, 2019

Chamber Name:

Pella Area Community & Economic Alliance

Elected Leader for 2019:

Mark Putnam, President of the Board

Professional Staff Leader of the Chamber:

Karen Eischen, Executive Director

Number of Members:


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. As president of Central College, serving on the board was a natural fit for me to be actively involved in the Pella Area Community and Economic (PACE) Alliance.  

What is the signature offering of your Chamber?

The PACE Alliance collaborates with our members to leverage talents and resources within our community to 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?

Establishing a Pella Talent Pipeline has been a top priority for Pella and the PACE Alliance. The Pella Talent Pipeline initiative is a vertically integrated education model within the PACE Alliance while containing a large scope of business-education partnership focus, from cradle to career. The Pella Talent Pipeline is a multi-faceted approach to attracting and retaining a high-quality workforce for area businesses. 

Any initiative or project that you are looking forward to in 2019?

Pella, Iowa is widely known for the Tulip Time Festival in the springtime and its beautiful downtown area. What most people don’t know is that Pella is also a major hub for multiple big-name businesses. Vermeer Corporation, Pella Corporation, Precision, Inc., Central College, Pella Regional Health Center and the Pella Community Schools are the top 6 employers in town, to name a few. We are a small community with big opportunities. Here are a few things we are working on in Pella:

Housing Expansion

By 2021, the Pella community hopes to increase housing inventory by 250 units, with an ultimate goal of adding 960 by 2025. While we have plenty of job opportunities, we don’t have enough housing to keep up with those opportunities. We have several housing units in the planning phase or underway, including high-end units, active senior communities (55+) and workforce related housing options.

Childcare Needs

Childcare goes hand in hand with housing. The more families we welcome to Pella, the more childcare we need available. To remedy this need, we had parents and employers participate in a Childcare Needs Analysis Survey in September and October 2018. These surveys asked questions surrounding the current and desired types of childcare, as well as what barriers there are to childcare in Pella. From those surveys, we were able to put numbers to the childcare gap. It was concluded that Pella has a shortage of 475 childcare spaces currently. Moving forward, childcare providers, stakeholders and large employers in Pella are planning next steps to minimize this gap.

Business Owner Connections

The PACE Alliance is proud to help organize a couple of business owner connection groups for the Pella Community. With the help of our Business Development Council, we launched a new networking opportunity called Biz Brews. These are held twice a month, once in the morning at a coffee shop and once in the evening at the local pub. At these meetings, we invite business owners to come together and talk through their business-related questions and help each other through networking. Another business owner connection opportunity we help facilitate are our Connect & Conquer monthly sessions. Each session has a different topic related to small businesses, and all PACE Alliance members are invited to attend for a round-table style discussion. Our next Connect & Conquer event will take place Tuesday, September 10 from 7:30-8:30 a.m. at The Brew Coffeehouse in Pella.

Find more information on Pella events on the Chamber website and ‘like’ our Chamber Facebook page for updates on other events this summer.

Read more Chamber of Commerce news at DSMpartnership.com/blog.

Mark Putnam

Mark Putnam is the president of Central College in Pella, Iowa. He serves on the board for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, as well as on various education committees. Mark lives in Pella with his wife, Tammy. He has two daughters.