By CHELSEA DAVIS Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — A new leader is coming to the chamber of commerce.
Tim Kurtz will take the helm at the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce on May 2. While he is currently a personal banker at Wells Fargo in Ottumwa, he previously served as the publisher for the Oskaloosa Herald for nine years and prior to that worked at the Ottumwa Courier for 20 years.
“I grew up here, went to school at the University of Iowa and then came back,” Kurtz said. “I’ve been here all my life, which is one of the things that encouraged me to apply for the position, because of the connections I have working on the sales side in the newspaper business — it’s a good match.”
His primary goal will be to continue the chamber’s mission to “promote the greater Ottumwa area as a hub of commerce,” he said.
“I want to get to know the businesses and see how I can benefit them, because it’s all membership-based,” he said. “The second part would be to recruit additional businesses to come in to town.”
Working with the other city organizations, especially the Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation, Main Street Ottumwa and the Ottumwa Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be key to the chamber’s success, he said.
“To promote new business, I’ll have to work closely with those groups,” he said. “We need to work together — that’s the key word — to promote Ottumwa as a whole ... to make downtown Main Street a viable place where people want to start a business. That goes for the whole community, not just downtown. What we’ve got going so far with the [Ottumwa Regional] Legacy Foundation is a great step. This is an exciting time to be launched in a group trying to promote businesses.
“We need to take advantage of each other’s strong points because we all have the common goal to make Ottumwa a better community.”
His experience with media will also help further his cause, he said.
“I have to partner with them because we both have the same agenda,” he said. “My business has been in media. I have past contacts working with businesses and the public. But first getting in there I’m going to be learning a lot, sitting and listening to see how and why things are done. There’s a learning curve, but I look forward to the challenge.”
Kurtz said he remembers growing up in Ottumwa when John Morrell & Co. closed and the population declined.
“I saw that decline and a lot of people moving away,” he said. “But I think there are some things going right now that are going to help Ottumwa.”