Empty Building Tour: A Tour of Possibility

Jefferson, the central seat of one of rural Iowa’s fastest­growing regions, Greene County, is hosting a tour of available buildings in April.

Tours of the buildings are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 and Saturday, April 18.

Greene County is in a period of rapid development. Wild Rose Jefferson, a $40 million casino and events center now under construction, plans to open Aug. 1 with an expected workforce of 275 people.

In a span of two days in February, Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, a $5.3 million, 73­room, three­story hotel, broke ground to the east of the casino, and Hy­Vee opened a state­of­the­art grocery store on the north side of downtown Jefferson. Hy­Vee is employing 237 people.

What’s more, Greene County Medical Center is in the process of a $22.5 million expansion and renovation. Power Lift, Scranton Manufacturing and other businesses have announced growth plans, all of which will add to the commercial and industrial base of the county.

Additionally, Gov. Terry Branstad has designated Greene County as the lead community in the state’s sweeping Home Base Iowa initiative, a program aimed at attracting returning military men and women to Iowa for careers.

“We are bringing people back to Iowa,” said Ken Paxton, director of the Greene County Development Corporation, who introduced the governor at a recent event for veterans.

Housing development is on the immediate horizon in Jefferson, too, with JCorp, a firm with a large resume of work in Ames, having announced plans for a town­home complex and apartment building construction in the western part of Jefferson.
There are opportunities for business development along the U.S. Highway 30 corridor near the casino and in downtown Jefferson.

“There is so much going on in Greene County,” said Jamie Daubendiek, president of the Jefferson Matters: Main Street board. “The downtown is the heart and soul of Jefferson.”

Jefferson has an active tourist market including easy access to the Raccoon River Trail, historical furniture shop, live arts and theater and the iconic Mahanay Carillon Bell Tower.

The tour of available buildings will spotlight:
— The opportunity to become an active participant in the revitalization of downtown Main Street.
— Upper­story development possibilities.
— The availability of historic tax credits.
— Opportunities to leverage employee and business development through Home Base Iowa and the non­profit associated with the casino.

The tour begins and ends at Jefferson Matters: Main Street, 101 E. Lincoln Way, Jefferson, Iowa, 50129.

Refreshments will be available at the office following the tour.

Please RSVP for the tour by registering on our website www.jeffersonmatters.org

Huffman Is Think Local/Shop Local Winner

Deb McGinn, JMMS Promotion Committee Chair, (left) presents Gail Huffman with a $100 gift certificate for shopping in downtown Jefferson.

Deb McGinn, JMMS Promotion Committee Chair, (left) presents Gail Huffman with a $100 gift certificate for shopping in downtown Jefferson.

Gail Huffman of Jefferson won the Think Local/Shop Local drawing, sponsored by Jefferson Matters: Main Street. Huffman was one of the shoppers who visited all 32 participating businesses in downtown Jefferson. She won a $100 gift certificate to be used in any of the participating businesses.

The event was created by the Promotion Committee of Jefferson Matters: Main Street to encourage shopping in the downtown district in advance of Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29 and to encourage shopping throughout the holiday season.

To become eligible for the drawing, each shopper needed to visit all 32 businesses and have their Think Local/Shop local card initialized.

Based on the number of cards distributed, the number of completed cards turned in, as well as cards that were partially completed, JMMS estimated that 500 visits were made to participating businesses.

To support the promotion, special Think Local/Shop Local posters were made for each of the 32 businesses. Each business was featured on a post to the Jefferson Matters: Main Street Facebook page and provided a “Thank You” poster as a measure of acknowledgement to their shoppers.

Businesses that participated in Think Local/Shop Local were All Ability Cycles, Angie’s Tea Garden, Bee and Herald, Ben Franklin, Breadeaux Pizza, Bunker’s Dunkers, Chuck’s Barbershop, Doc’s Stadium Bar & Grill, Don’s Ace Hardware, Eye Care Associates, Fudge’s Flowers, Greene Bean Coffee, Head Masters, Home Care Medical, Homestead Bakery, Hy-Vee Drugstore, Jefferson Eye Care, Jefferson Telecom, John’s Appliance & TV, Linda’s Fashions, M & M Appliques, Motor Parts, Muir Embroidery, Pizza Ranch, Royal Jewelers, RPV~1875, Spare Time Lanes, The Stitch, The Printers Box, Treasure Chest, Uncorked Wine & Spirits, and Oly’s Corner.

Jefferson Matters: Main Street is a volunteer organization devoted to economic development through historic preservation in downtown Jefferson. If you would like to become involved with JMMS, contact Alan Robinson, program director, at 515-386-3585 or director@ jeffersonmatters.org.

Residents and visitors seeking information about downtown Jefferson are encouraged to visit the Jefferson Matters: Main Street office at 110 West Lincoln Way. The office is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Look for updates about JMMS news and activities at www.jeffersonmatters.org.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting Dec. 4

JMMS hosts the second annual tree lighting Dec. 4 at the courthouse rotunda.

JMMS hosts the second annual tree lighting Dec. 4 at the courthouse rotunda.

The Second Annual Holiday Sparkle Community Christmas Tree Lighting will be Thursday, Dec. 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the Greene County Courthouse. The event will feature caroling, bells, reading of the Christmas story, and Sugar Plum Fairy dancers.

The highlight of the evening will be the countdown—led by Santa himself—to light the big Christmas tree in the rotunda. The first 200 visitors to the courthouse will receive a coupon for a free decorated Christmas cookie from Homestead Bakery.

This year, Jefferson Matters: Main Street we will be joined by members of the Relay for Life Committee as they present a Luminarias of Love Christmas tree in the east foyer of the courthouse.  Outside the courthouse they will have luminarias to light up the night.

Thomas Jefferson Gardens is joining in the fun by decorating their gardens for the holidays, featuring an outdoor tree and luminarias. The BPO Does will be having a free will soup supper as part of the festivities. They will be serving at the Elks Lodge from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

After the tree lighting event, kids of all ages can follow Santa and Mrs. Claus through the pathway of luminarias for a free ride up to the top of the Bell Tower and a chance to share their Christmas wish lists with Santa.