OTTUMWA — Downtown Ottumwa will start ringing with the sounds of hammers pounding and drills buzzing as construction begins on the new marketplace.
Market on Main director Heather Ware said while she has been the face of the project, it wouldn't have happened without the collaboration of several organizations throughout the city.
"My name might be on the forefront, but you all made this possible," she told the crowd of around 70 people at Monday's groundbreaking ceremony.
The 12,000-square-foot, year-round marketplace will feature a farmers' market, a commercial kitchen where people can have their recipes certified by the USDA, a demonstration kitchen for chefs and culinary students, stalls for food vendors and artisans, a small-scale grocery store, an incubator and more. All of this will be contained in the building on the northwest corner of Jefferson and East Main streets, 327 and 331 E. Main St., the former "Plum Crazy" building.
City Planning Director Nick Klimek has watched this project move from conception to construction. After the state of Iowa awarded the city a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant two years ago for a "sustainable community demonstration project," he knew it would become a reality.
"Once it's completed, other communities will look to us as an example," he said.
That wasn't the last of outside funding. Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation contributed $350,000, John Deere Ottumwa Works contributed $100,000, South Ottumwa Savings Bank contributed $100,000 and USDA contributed $62,000.
And "sustainability" is more than a buzzword, Klimek said, since the marketplace will have a huge effect on the community by teaching healthy eating and cooking habits, launching business plans and providing opportunities for local producers to sell their produce.
"I have no idea how to use an eggplant," he joked. "Hopefully Heather will teach me."