Editor's Note:The Daily Freeman-Journal posed several questions to Deb Brown how Webster City can grow existing business, attract new business and keep pace with ever evolving technology. She shares her answers below.
Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Geneva, Iowa actually on a farm outside of Geneva. Like most kids who graduated in 1973, I couldn't wait to get out of town. I was educated at Luther and went on to live in Chicago for the next 30 years. I've underwritten foreign casualty insurance, managed luggage stores, headed up the education department at a group of internet cafes and finally managed their flagship store, did store resets, created websites, wrote for local papers and read every book I could get my hands on. When my dad had his second heart attack I made a deal with God if dad lived, I would come home. I worked for the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce as communications director, curated and hosted the 140 Character Conference in Des Moines for two years, co-hosted the same conference in Hutchinson, Kansas and NYC. That conference is all about social media and how businesses and individuals are using it to make a difference in their work and lives. I have a real commitment to small towns and buying local.
What do you most look forward to in your new position in Webster City?
The opportunities are endless. Webster City used to be a company town and now the possibilities are unlimited. I am looking forward to seeing what this community wants to become, and being a small part of it.
What role can the Chamber of Commerce play with local business owners in this world of online shopping, social media and ever changing technology?
We can support our members with education, tools and direction on how to be a part of a larger world. The internet has made it possible to bring our wonderful businesses to a larger audience! A smart business owner will tell you that using two or three of these social channels to promote your business to an unlimited audience is a great marketing tool. There are so many options and we hope to help educate our members on these options, how to use them and how to choose the ones that work for you.
How can a community the size of Webster City compete with other communities for shopping dollars, business attraction, etc. ?
I was talking with one of my board members trying to come up with a t-shirt slogan for Webster City.
- 10 minutes from home to work;
- perfect that's us;
- if you want it, we can get it;
- more than just a river ...
But it also answers this question. We don't have congestion we have a 10 minute drive to work from anywhere in town. Store fronts and locations we just happen to have a few available (not for long is the plan). Unique businesses with products you won't find anywhere else? Yes we have those too. We have a great river and a walking/biking path, canoeing, tubing, swimming, golfing, running any outdoor activity you may want.
Living in this town is affordable. Add in our willingness to make a difference and volunteer to get things done, the desire to move forward as a business and provide real value and the continuing education process where we are learning how to give customers (wherever they are) what they want there's a recipe for success.
As you start your new position in Webster City, what are some of the first goals that you've set for yourself?
Well of course I'd like to add more members to the Chamber. One way of doing that is showing the value and worth of being a chamber member. I'm very excited about our education committee; they have some great classes planned. I also want to add an agriculture committee. In this day and age farmers are truly a business. I think we can help support their efforts and also the businesses that work with farmers.
I have a strong tourism background and the chamber will be working on ways to bring visitors into town to shop, play and stay.
What are Webster City's greatest assets?
Everyone I've met has been kind, helpful and happy to meet me. So of course I believe the people of Webster City are its greatest assets.
This city is in a great position to move forward and become even stronger and better, and its citizens will be what makes that happen.