|New Chamber president speaks out|
by Mary Atkinson · December 18, 2013
As president of the 2014 West Liberty Chamber of Commerce, Jason Cassady hopes to strengthen the relationship between the board and its members while continuing to encourage the growth of local businesses.
Cassady, currently vice president at West Liberty State Bank, said that he would like to see board members and chamber members know each other better and have more communication.
"One thing I want to do for the year is have our board go out and just meet our chamber members, so that the chamber members and the board are on the same page - as in asking some questions and just be in their businesses - so that they know who each other are," he said.
Originally from St. Charles, he is an ag business graduate of Iowa State University. Cassidy began his career as a commercial and ag lender at US Bank in Williamsburg before starting at West Liberty State Bank in 2002.
He and his wife, Amy, have lived in town for about eight years with their four children. Cassady is also is a member of the Rotary Club, and is active with St. Joseph's Catholic Church and coaches youth sports.
He served as the chamber's vice-president last year, receiving the president's gavel last week from Tara Lindsay during the annual Chamber breakfast.
In his first act, he wants to revitalize a circular relationship between the chamber and its members, one that encourages feedback from members.
"Some of the chamber members probably don't know who the board members are and some of the board members don't know who all the chamber members are," he added. "We need to fill that gap a little bit to build a little more continuity between the board and the chamber members and then we can figure out what the chamber members are wanting out of the chamber itself."
Cassady said he has noticed a growth of small businesses in town, recently, and wants to encourage people to support these businesses, by shopping locally, for example. He said this would help attract other businesses to open here thus creating more revenue.
"It brings more activity into town, when one business can spur more activity for another business, and it brings in more revenue for the tax base and helps out with the community by filling store fronts - just bringing in renewed activity here, hopefully, we can grow a few small businesses in town."
As for the industrial area just south of town, he said he would like to see an increase in activity in terms of businesses, but feels that it will take a little more time.
"Hopefully, with Shannon (McNaul) in the We Lead position, that will spur some new things down there as well," he said, "She's very active, She seems to know what's going on and seems very smart and I think she could do good things to help grow the larger side of West Liberty with the industrial park."
Shannon McNaul is the new executive director of We Lead, or the West Liberty Area Economic Development, which is a local non-profit corporation that focuses on "business, leadership and workforce development to increase entrepreneurial engagement, attract businesses and improve the quality of life in our community."
WeLead also partners with Iowa State Extension and Outreach.
Cassady went on to say that the chamber supports all the businesses here, including large and small ones as well as the agriculture businesses.
"We are looking at the agricultural side of it too." Cassady said. "We have some farmers that are chamber members and we are looking to get more. So we can look at that side as bringing in new members to the chamber. It's not just retail but the ag industry as well."