MCDG Executive Director Announced

The Mahaska Community Development Group and Development Partners announced today that Tom Flaherty has been named Executive Director of Mahaska Community Economic Development.

Flaherty, who begins Sept. 11, will be responsible for managing development activities to increase business expansion and capital investment in the community. He will also help create an outcome-based strategic plan to address housing, workforce and quality of life needs.

“We are excited to welcome Tom to our economic development team. His experience leading neighborhood forums and working in both industrial and downtown development will be an asset for our Mahaska Community,” said Jay Christensen, Chairman of the Mahaska Community Development Group (MCDG).

Flaherty is a life-long Iowan and most recently served as Vice President of Regional Business Development and Vice President of the Downtown Development Partnership for the DavenportOne/Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.

Flaherty led the business retention and expansion program for the bi-state region, which included meeting annually with more than 150 primary employers in the area to identify needs and solve problems. Flaherty’s work at the Quad Cities Chamber led to the expansion of 24 businesses generating over $85 million in growth. He also assisted with the growth of 56 new businesses and $178 million in downtown Davenport. In addition, he led and coordinated 12 major festivals and events, drawing more than 100,000 regional visitors to the Davenport downtown. In 2014, Flaherty received an award for the Best Business Retention and Expansion Program by the Professional Developers of Iowa.

“Our development groups (MCDG, Main Street, Oskaloosa Chamber and Development Group, and Mahaska Ag and Rural Development) have been working together for over a year to formalize creation of a more coordinated economic development team to better serve the area,” said Christensen.

“Tom has a proven track record of working within this type of public/private partnership,” said Christensen. “His role will be to cause collaboration and to build a stronger team between our development group and community partners.”

Flaherty holds a BA in political science and MBA from St. Ambrose. He has two sons, John, who is a graduate of St. Ambrose, and Matthew, who is a junior at St. Ambrose.

In his free time, he loves being outdoors gardening, hunting, fishing, camping and riding bicycle.

Local Community Groups Looking to Work Together

An item on the agenda at both Mahaska County Board of Supervisors and City Council meeting yesterday included the discussion of the business plan for the Mahaska Development Partnership. The Chamber of Commerce, the Mahaska County Agricultural and Rural Development (MCARD), the Mahaska Community Development Group (MCDG) and Main Street Oskaloosa are four separate entities that have a desire to begin an appropriate partnership.

As the Board of Supervisors discussed this intended economic partnership for Oskaloosa and Mahaska County, it was a swift approval and acceptance of the memorandum.

Beth Danowsky, MCDG, approached the podium to speak about the organizations.

“The way we work right now, as economic development groups each group sets its own strategic plan, its own vision. And the idea behind this is, if we don’t take this first step to begin to work together then we’re going to continue to work in silos,” stated Danowsky. “And we don’t want to do that anymore, we want to begin to plan together; begin work together; begin to allocate our resources.”

A chair of each organization and a designee of the respective organization board would meet quarterly. There would be 8 members total on the board. After very little discussion, it was approved by the Board of Supervisors. The City Council, later in the day, discussed the business plan and the desire to work together

At-Large City Council member, Tom Walling, sat through the presentation of this plan.

“I strongly support the [plan] but there were several of us there that felt they still got a long way to go. I mean there’s some things to be worked out in our community about this and how we share and don’t duplicate, but grow it together,” Walling said. “They seem willing to work on that.”

With approval from both the City Council and Board of Supervisors, the partnership can now begin to move forward.



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