One of the main, ongoing jobs of the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group (OACDG) is to ensure that local businesses are getting the resources they need to continue to grow. The OACDG also spends a great deal of time bringing new businesses to the community that will create quality jobs. Three primary business goals which have been targeted by the Chamber are: preserving an outstanding retail climate, keeping the lines of communication open, and helping existing businesses expand, while attracting new businesses.

graphicOskaloosa has been known as the regional retail center for years. The retail industry in Oskaloosa is twice the size of most cities its size. Oskaloosa’s historic town square houses most of the retail businesses. Its beauty and location attract many businesses, as well as shoppers. The OACDG keeps loyal businesses and attracts new businesses by developing and distributing promotional materials. Information is spread by the OACDG through a Web site, monthly newsletter and a monthly newspaper column.

Existing businesses looking to expand and new businesses looking to start up are helped by the OACDG through several programs: forgivable or low interest loans, reimbursement of training costs, funds for road improvements, competitive utility rates, partial property tax exemptions, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, cash incentives for new jobs, venture capital opportunities, and special project financing. In 1998, the OACDG helped to create the Mahaska County Agricultural and Rural Development Program to stimulate growth in value-added agricultural enterprises. It is also a resource for businesses located in the County’s rural areas. Other business-related projects the OACDG participates in are: development of land surrounding a four-lane highway expansion to suit future business expansion, promotion of local career and training opportunities for area youth, support for new housing projects to expand the local housing supply, and an annual business/industry recognition festival.

In Mahaska County, unemployment has varied from 1.9% to 2.5% in 1998. That same year, 67% of the citizens were employed, 10% were self-employed, 11% were retired, and 11% were unemployed (1% had no response). Some of the local employers in Oskaloosa are: Clow Valve Company; Pepsi-Cola Bottling; Cargill; Oskaloosa Food Products; Musco Lighting; Oskaloosa Community Schools; Mahaska County Hospital; Cunningham, Incorporated; ITW Paslode; City of Oskaloosa; Heartland Lysine; Lynn’s Transportation; Panel Components Corporation; World Food Processing, Inc.; Soy Protein Technologies, USA; and Wakes, Incorporated.

There are 38 manufacturing plants in Oskaloosa, two manufacturing unions, and 2,230 manufacturing employees. There have been no work stoppages in the last five years. Mahaska County and Oskaloosa offer existing businesses and new businesses an excellent environment in which to prosper. The OACDG is an advocate for the businesses in its community as well as the people employed in them.

 

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