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Episode 45 - Shannon Landauer Transcript


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Chad Chancellor: Welcome to this week's episode of the Next Move Group We Are Jobs podcast. This is Chad Chancellor, co-founder of Next Move Group and today, we've got Shannon Landauer with us. She's the executive director of the Carroll Area Development Corporation in Iowa and so, she's probably mad at me. She has introduced me to all these Iowa and Nebraska and Midwest people and we're just now getting-- we've done all of them before her on the podcast. We had two times we tried to do the podcast and it didn't work out. So, she's the person who connected me to all these people yet she's the last one in the line for the podcast. So, Shannon, thank you for being here today. I hope you're not too mad at me.

Shannon Landauer: No, I love the opportunity to talk with you guys.

Chad Chancellor: Awesome. Well, talk a little bit about the corporate presence there. So, you know we really exist to help small to mid-sized companies, communities, and non-profit organizations and you had me at last year for the College World Series and gave us a tour and I was really amazed at how many big companies and corporations you have in Carroll. So, talk a little bit about that.

Shannon Landauer: Yes, Carroll being west-central Iowa, I think often is kind of written off as a very much ag heavy. It’s really unique though. I’ve been here about six years and one of the most exciting things about taking the job here in Carroll was seeing that our top five employers are five different sectors. We've got-- our hospital is still private, so very much we consider them a player. I know not everyone considers the hospital that way, but they've brought so so many secondary services and jobs. It’s pretty incredible.

We've got Core-Mark previously known as Farner-Bocken Company. They are a national distributor of convenience store type of products recently acquired by Core-Mark in the last few years. So, a Fortune 500 presence there. We also have American Home Shield. They had been under the ServiceMaster umbrella, spun off, now they're under the Frontdoor umbrella; another Fortune 500 presence and they offer home warranty.

We've got Rockwell Collins has a facility here; Collins Aerospace. They are very much a well-known name across the country doing some machining and manufacturing. We've got Pella Windows manufacturing here in Carroll and also, there is a presence from a lot of ag like you would know. Landus is headquartered just over in Ames, Iowa, but their products are reaching around the globe. You don’t go far that you don't see a Carroll County touch.

Another company that's a little bit smaller, but homegrown as well is Windstar. A lot of you have maybe seen the Windstar tour buses. It started with just one bus and that company has grown phenomenally. So, a lot of good things have grown out of Carroll County.

Chad Chancellor: And is the Templeton Rye Distillery there? I remember you telling me it is in Carroll County, isn’t it?

Shannon Landauer: Yes, yes. Templeton Rye is a distillery that we love to claim. That was about a $27 million facility that just came into play in the last couple of years and I think when you guys were here, you were in the 3,000 number for visitors. Now, we're well over 10,000 that come to the museum. So, they actually-- to compete with some of my friends in Kentucky, they have barreled their first bourbon. So, it will be a few years yet before tasting, but pretty fun stuff.

Chad Chancellor: Well, folks see me walking around with my Templeton Rye golf shirt on. I got it from the actual place. So, I didn't know. I got it from right there. I know how connected you are really through the Midwest. So, talk about your journey to getting to Carroll.

Shannon Landauer: Yes, absolutely. People kind of laugh at my story a little bit. I absolutely went to school for the intention of health information management. It was in my husband's hometown of about 1500 in northeast Nebraska and the only job that was open was a secretary job in an economic development office. Ironically, that office opened the day I graduated high school. So, it was a very brand new organization.

I quickly grew to full time and then transitioned into the executive director role and I spent several years there. They are very much manufacturing agriculture. We had some of the first wind turbine projects. At the time, I was in Boone County, Nebraska. So, I helped out. It was really interesting seeing how some of that industry came about in Nebraska.

Then I came to Carroll. It was one of my instructors for economic development through the Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute, LaDene Bowen. I think a lot of people know LaDene. She had given me a phone call about this Carroll job and honestly, I had no interest in leaving, but I jumped on the website and saw what a wonderful community it was and felt that we had to take a look and was fortunate and was the chosen candidate.

It's been really interesting, but yes, I had a lot of friends in Nebraska. It's a pretty tight-knit state when it comes to economic development, but through that heart-land training and Oklahoma University training, I really got to know so many great people from across the country.

We've not only become friends and your team when you go to battle, there are some trusted mentors and colleagues, but they've been our really great partners because it's a pretty tight profession. We grow together. We take some lumps together when you consider some of the national conversations around incentives and different things like that. Pretty unique people I’ve met and have been happy to connect the dots and introduce you guys to some of them.

Chad Chancellor: Yes. So, tell these folks kind of how big Carroll is and what part of Iowa you're located in.

Shannon Landauer: Yes, Carroll is right at 10,000 and countywide, our organization serves about 20,000 per the last population estimate. Geography lesson if you're familiar with Carroll County and Iowa, we’re north-central-- northwest I apologize, but honestly, if you draw a circle that's Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux City, we're kind of right in the middle of that. So, it's kind of a little micropolitan I will say, very much different than the definitions in the book.

We very much are a regional hub for education, for service, employment, health care. One of the coolest projects that we have underway right now is our hospital here serves several surrounding counties and they have been fundraising for a cancer center. It was the biggest private fundraising effort they've undertaken and things have gone very, very well with it. It’s under construction and we've really learned that especially some of the seniors prefer coming out to a more rural comfortable community than some of the drive in the cities. Lots of good stuff going on.

Chad Chancellor: Thank you, Shannon. We're going to take a quick break for a message for our listeners and we'll be back with a lot more with Shannon Landauer after this message.


Chad Chancellor: If you want to join our movement which is to create economic growth for small to mid-sized companies, communities, and non-profit organizations, please go to our website at thenextmovegroup.com. Browse around and you can see the different services we offer all designed to create that economic growth for the small to mid-sized companies, communities, and non-profit organizations. Most of our leads and growth has come from word of mouth referral. So, even if you don't need a service, we want you to know what we do so when friends and contacts of yours might need something, you know what we do and you can refer us. So, again, go to thenextmovegroup.com to learn more about the Next Move Group.


Chad Chancellor: Well, with workforce availability being a major challenge, I'm sure this impacts how you go about business recruitment. So, do you all have any specific efforts or projects underway that are different that everybody else might not be doing as far as how you handle workforce and business recruitment?

Shannon Landauer: One of the things that we're doing in the region that we're really excited with it's new to us is our computer languages program. This is at our Carroll Community College campus, but it really came out of a partnership by our neighbors in Green County in Jefferson, Iowa. A company in Des Moines it's really a tech firm working in software development is helping with the movement of bringing physicians from Silicon Valley into Middle America really creating awesome job opportunities.

So, our community college here in Carroll along with Iowa Central Community College have written a curriculum in computer languages. So, just amazing stuff. Kids are able to graduate high school here with dual credit in our community college. They are getting welding certificates, nursing degrees, but with this new computer languages program, it’s an associate degree that they'll have completed the day that they graduate high school.

So, they move into the Forge Academy in Jefferson which is the neighboring county here, but after a 16-week onsite training, these kids are earning $70,000 and they're able to go anywhere with this coding work and computer languages work that they are learning. So, it's really a new take on things.

I know the gentleman who helped us get this all started and really was the effort behind the project. He's working across the country now. People are calling him asking how they get this done. So, I’m more excited to lead that effort in the country and we’re sure there's going to be a whole lot of models similar, but we can't recruit quantity anymore. We have to recruit quality and we want people to be able to bring their work with them and be educated.

So, step one is educating these kids. Step two is knocking on doors in California and across the country saying your employees can't afford to have a great lifestyle here with the cost of living, but when they come to Iowa, they can have a great life. So, that's one of the things we're really excited too that we're working on now.

Chad Chancellor: Awesome. When I was there, I was really impressed with the philanthropy and how all the communities really take care of themselves. You're not waiting for Washington DC to show up and save the day. So, just talk about kind of that spirit and some of the cool stuff there from that regard.

Shannon Landauer: You are so right. We really take care of ourselves here. We are very unique. One of the selling points of this community, in my opinion, is the education opportunities. We have K-12 Catholic and Public here as well as a college campus for Des Moines area community college and just the private fundraising, you know kemper is raising money for the fieldhouse. We've done a library. So many things and that really stretches into our surrounding communities throughout Carroll County.

We've seen our communities overcome a lot. It’s not natural disasters or huge challenges, but most recently, our friends in Manning-- you've met several of them-- they found out right at Christmas time that their grocery stores were closing and we've been on the road. We're knocking on doors and telling them why Manning? Why consider a town of 1500 and why they'll be successful. It's that spirit of just tell us what we can do and we'll overcome those hurdles. That really has helped Carroll County to be strong and be considered an example in Iowa and beyond.

Chad Chancellor: I know we've had Manning on our show. Talk about some of the other small communities that make up Carroll County.

Shannon Landauer: Yes, absolutely. So, Coon Rapids is another small community similar in size and they've hired a community coordinator and Katie is doing a great job. Coon Rapids historically the Garst family was there. The Garst Seed Company originated in Coon Rapids and so as that transitioned, we saw that become another company and they've started to sell off some of the assets and it really left a void on Main Street; 22,000 square feet that was an office and a lab. It’s been a challenge. That's kind of a behemoth in a small town of 1500 to get rid of the facility like that, but they've done some really great things.

They are upgrading to some housing in the upper story. They've done some retail in the bottom. That's actually the office for our community coordinator and just recently, they actually completed a video and Katie told me that in just a few months’ time as they have been a mainstream community, they've had seven new retail spaces open or new businesses. So, pretty exciting stuff they are doing.

Templeton as you mentioned, there's Templeton Rye. They've had several projects they're working on. Recently, we learned of a commercial building that's going to be going into their space, so another new project there. Toyne-- a couple of names you may recognize out of Breda is Toyne fire trucks. They are delivered around the country and Snappy Popcorn. Breda is home to that. So, some more names that you'll recognize.

Glidden is just a few miles down the road. Again, in terms of philanthropy, they have a new shelter house. They've undertaken some housing projects and so all throughout Carroll County, there are just so many things to be proud of and people working hard to just embrace what we have and really look forward to how we stay strong and weather everything that comes in the future.

Chad Chancellor: I know Manning has a community foundation. Is that something most of the communities up there have or are they unique in that regard?

Shannon Landauer: There are several foundations and lots of private efforts. We have a county foundation, community foundations and also, they've done a good job too of securing money for evolving loan funds to help out with business projects as well. So, that's one of the things we're pretty excited with is kind of the spirit of cooperation and business climate that we've created. It’s really a how do we get it done? Tell us what you need and we’ll bring the partners to the table to make things happen.

Chad Chancellor: And I was really impressed with them. They are doing some housing developments to try to bring back young professionals and so it's not just let's go find a big industry. They're doing a lot of stuff with entrepreneurs and housing and healthcare and even help fund a hotel with their foundation and so I think that's what-- in the south, we just kind of pursue big industries and so what's been interesting about getting to know you all is how you use what you have to really pursue kind of a holistic approach.

Shannon Landauer: Yes, absolutely. It's so ironic. It’s just that it's such a people business. I don't know what else you'd call it with development. Manning is kind of a funny story. About a year ago, we were talking about a building that they had opened that the development group owns and leased out and it's now vacant. So, in the process of trying to fill that building, it came up that the nursing home was going to be available and they felt that they've already passed their anniversary time from that meeting and that's been a really successful project and I think they're just such a good example of it just takes the time. You got to knock on doors and build relationships with people.

Chad Chancellor: So, you've been an economic developer what? 10 or 15 years, two different states. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started for those young people that might be listening to our show?

Shannon Landauer: It has changed so much and I know that conversation has been held with so many people, but development is really about not bringing your textbook and thinking you know what a community needs. You've got to listen. You've really got to know your data and understand your data. Housing and workforce and daycare centers; those are things that we didn't use to touch and now, it is all about workforce. It's a people game and so it really is about creating that environment that people want to be a part of.

Statistics nationally will show you that there is a potential trend to see people coming out into the rural communities and so, you just got to create whatever it is that might bring them. It is the housing. It's the quality of the place and friendships and you speak of philanthropy and there are so many grassroots efforts right now that people are digging in. They want to be a part of something.

When I was young and naive in this profession, I thought that there was one way to do things and I’ve learned that you just got to create your own textbook. Every day you've got to write your own story. Most recently in our chamber banquet that was kind of the theme of my talk was there's going to be a whole heck of a lot of chapters, but it’s just a continual-- it's a continual effort. It's continual partnerships and vision and every day being open-minded to what your next venture might be.

Chad Chancellor: And how did you get so connected? You seem to know everybody. Was it IEDC or OU EDI or a combination or what was the strategy there?

Shannon Landauer: It's been so many things. I guess I just-- I like people. You would be very surprised and probably most people listening that know me will be surprised when I say I am super shy. I’m not a joiner when it comes to conversations, but I just learned that everybody has a story and everybody can probably provide something that you don't have or don't know and I’ve just loved learning to share that and being willing to kind of sit down and to be a partner back.

I’ve joined some boards and committees and Lord knows there are a lot of things I could do with my time and I used to be pretty selfish that way, but I’ve learned that every day that you give something is a day that someday you're going to need to take something back and need those partners. So, I don't know. I guess I just love everyone's different approaches to all of it.

I’m a very firm believer in those organizations. I think that the MidAmerica Economic Development Council is something I’ve been a part of. IEDC right now, I’m currently on the Professional Developers of Iowa Board of Directors and Executive Committee. I’m the treasurer. I just think that every experience that you take part in is absolutely-- you're going to come out on the other side a better person.

Chad Chancellor: Awesome. Well, Shannon is there anything you wish I had asked you that I didn't?

Shannon Landauer: No. I’m glad we didn't talk football. You didn't ask about the College World Series. Omaha has got a lot going on again this year.

Chad Chancellor: So, you didn't want me to-- we tried to focus on Carroll, so.

Shannon Landauer: Well, that's always a good airport stop to bring you out for a visit.

Chad Chancellor: You are a Nebraska Cornhusker fan, aren't you?

Shannon Landauer: Absolutely.

Chad Chancellor: You're on the way back. You're on the way back.

Shannon Landauer: Yes, exactly.

Chad Chancellor: We’re recording this in March. I don't think your basketball team has done much.

Shannon Landauer: No, and we'll see about baseball, but again, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you guys and tell you about our community and a little bit about the profession and what I believe in and how I think we're doing out here.

Chad Chancellor: Awesome. Well, tell these folks your website because we do have some industries that listen to this as well in case they want to learn more about Carroll.

Shannon Landauer: Yes. carrolareadev.com.

Chad Chancellor: carrolareadev.com. All right, Shannon, thank you for being here with us today and again, sorry that you connected me with all these people and they got in line before you.

Shannon Landauer: It's okay.

Chad Chancellor: Thanks.

Shannon Landauer: Yes.

Chad Chancellor: Bye-bye


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