When talking with our members about recruiting talent, one of the most common topics we hear about is the challenges and opportunities in young hires. So often, young employees come in with technical training but, to no fault of their own, lack real-world experience and the understanding of the expectations that come will full-time employment.
To help relieve that pain point, the Chamber is partnering with the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) for a third year to host the Teaching for the Workforce Academy (TFTW).
Teaching for the Workforce is a four-day, license renewal course that brings teachers, counselors and other education employees together to learn about local industries, hiring needs and practices, and identify potential business partners for work-based learning collaborations. Connecting with local businesses provides valuable perspective on what employers are looking for when making hiring decisions.
Participants explore the worlds high-demand industries including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, information technology and more. The class hears from nearly 30 speakers in a variety of industries through panels, networking events, tours, and presentations. Not only do participants make connections, many of them walk away with new strategies they are able to implement into their classrooms.
Upon graduation from the Academy, one participant commented, “There are so many different career paths other than the four-year degree plan. Companies strongly desire soft skills and they’re willing to invest in people who design to grow at their company.”
Spots are limited, so if you are an educator or know one who is interested in this course, sign up today!
A year into a global pandemic, many people are still wary of traveling for vacation. If you find yourself in that boat, fear not! Celebrate Spring Break with a Staycation right here at home.
Okay, a Staycation might feel a little less exciting since we’ve all essentially been on one since last March. But—there are new and fun things to do right here at home, especially with the warmer weather!
Tried and true, fresh air never fails to renew one’s spirit. From 37 community parks to 55 connected miles of trails, there’s plenty to keep you active over Spring Break. If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to head over to the new Miracle Playground and Field. This state-of-the-art inclusive park ensures all residents and visitors have a place to play.
Shop, Eat & Drink
Just like any other vacation, you can go out and reacquaint yourself with the area. Bop over to the original Starbuck’s Drive Thru (burgers, not coffee) in Nevada or grab a craft beer at Fenceline Beer Lab in Huxley. Check out local businesses in Campustown, Downtown or at North Grand Mall, you never know what you might find just by stopping in!
Have you ever wanted an entire movie theater to yourself? Now’s your chance! North Grand Cinema offers theater rentals with an array of movies to choose from. Bowl, play arcade games or ignite a family rivalry in laser tag at Perfect Games. If the weather cooperates you could even go for a round or two of mini golf!
Learn Something New
Did you know Ames is home to a number of museums? That’s right! Channel your inner creativity by visiting the Octagon Center for the Arts or Brunnier Art Museum. While technically not a museum, the Park Library on campus is home to a number of beautiful originals by Iowa native Grant Wood. Step back in time at the Ames History Museum or Farm House Museum.
Mural, Mural on the Wall
Go on a mural hunt! There are several amazing murals throughout Story County. See how many you can find and snap a selfie. To help get you started, check out Downtown Ames, Zearing and Maxwell.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. I haven't even gotten to Reiman Gardens, Ledges State Park or the many public libraries in the county. Whatever you choose to do, stay safe, support local and have fun!
Written By: Matt Stenzel, Intern, Iowa State University Research Park
“Let’s start a podcast.” – pretty much everyone in the last 3-5 years.
That’s precisely what went through my head when Alison suggested starting a Research Park podcast focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. There are a million podcasts out there for folks to listen to; how will we attract anyone to listen to ours? Also, how do you even start a podcast? Don’t I need thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment? I called my friend Joe Rogan, but he was no help.
Research Park events (of the in-person variety) have been slow with the pandemic. We wanted to try a new outlet, so I put my concerns aside, and we started researching what it might take to do a podcast. As it turns out, it’s not as expensive as you might think. We pay a monthly fee (~$20) to a website to “host” our podcast, and we bought a few condenser microphones that plug into our laptops. In the financial category, that’s about all it took.
The next part was a bit more complicated. Who do we interview? And what do we talk to them about? Well, we want to highlight stories of people who are “Innovators,” the namesake of our show. So naturally, we started with some of the best entrepreneurship stories we know: Clayton Mooney with Nebullum, Jim Fay who invented the Diaper Genie, and Judi Eyles from the Pappajohn Center were some of the first to come to mind. During these podcasts, we discovered the conversation part is pretty straightforward. These people all have such deep wells of knowledge that it’s almost impossible to record a podcast in under an hour.
During the first few shows, I typed up long lists of notes to make sure we hit all of our “talking points” but have since relied more on my own curiosity and whatever questions pop into my mind. Once you convince an Innovator to tell their story, they’ll talk as long as you let them because their businesses are their pride and joy. My favorite part of doing this podcast is the energy I feel after each recording. You can see and hear the passion in their eyes and voices. It makes me excited for the Ames, the ISU, and the Research Park communities.
This month last year, we launched the Buy-In Story County gift card program as an initiative to support local businesses as our community first started feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to 29 sponsors and countless community members, we were able to infuse $137,775 into our local businesses at a critical time.
To build on the passion for supporting local, this year we are launching a new, long-term currency program called Community Cash.
Through Community Cash, you'll be able to purchase $5, $10, $20 or $25 worth of cash that can be used at any of our participating members. Each Community Cash purchase will come with a unique QR code that you'll simply scan at check-out.
We are thrilled to be able to offer a program that enhances our commitment to our community, local businesses and overall economic growth. I would like to give a special thank you to the program's sponsor, Availa Bank, for helping us make this vision come to life.
Stay tuned for more program information including participating merchants, FAQs, and the official launch in the coming weeks. If you're a local business and you would like to learn more or get signed up, click here to get in touch with us.
The sun is shining, birds are singing and snow is melting, not a bad way to wrap up February in Iowa!
I encourage you all to take advantage of the beautiful weather to get out and support our local businesses. From shopping to dining to even stopping in just to say hi, our small businesses appreciate every single visitor that walks through their doors.
We are fortunate to have a strong network of diverse local businesses, I am confident you will find exactly what you are looking for and more! In fact, if you take a walk in Campustown, Downtown Ames or at North Grand Mall, you might be surprised at the variety of stores and services available to our community. Support doesn't have to be in-person, most of our businesses have an online presence, check out our online directory to find websites and social media pages.
Our local businesses have persevered through extreme hardship thispast year, so let's come together to show them some love!