Yaddof hired as Community Vitality Director

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Emily Yaddof was recently hired as Guttenberg's Community Vitality Director. She will work closely with an advisory team to develop and support businesses, encourage entrepreneurs, increase the tax base, and attract and retain young families. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Small communities across Iowa have been struggling to support themselves as rural populations continue to decline. It takes vision and a strong steering committee to build civic infrastructure, inspire local entrepreneurs, and grow and support existing local businesses. The City of Guttenberg has gathered a group of visionaries to address these issues.

Advisory committee

M.J. Smith and Molly Moser, who represent the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, shared the following history regarding the new position.

"Over the past six months, our City has been evaluating strategies to develop and support businesses, encourage entrepreneurs, increase the tax base, and attract and retain young families," said M.J. Smith, Director of Affiliate Foundations for Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. "The evaluation has included advisors representing the Chamber; Guttenberg Economic & Industrial Development Corporation (GEIDC); Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC); Foundation of Cornerstone Communities; and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. We met with Rural Development consultants Bill Menner and Mark Reinig to refine interests around the need for a Community Vitality Director, and finalize the job description and salary to be subsequently approved by the City Council. Funding support was obtained from GEIDC and Foundation of Cornerstone Communities."

  Smith continued, "The consensus for this position was directly tied to our community’s need to squarely focus on key vitality goals, develop trusted relationships between leaders and work better together.” 

Smith and Moser will help facilitate goal-setting discussions between the advisors and the vitality director. 

Vitality Director

Emily Yaddof has been hired as Guttenberg's new Community Vitality Director. Yaddof was born, raised and educated in Clayton County. She and her husband, Brian Gibbs, who is employed by Fayette County Conservation, recently moved back to the area. They are expecting their first child in November. 

Yaddof earned degrees in Marketing and Technical Communications from Iowa State University. She returned to Clayton County and was hired to do part-time office work for the Clayton County Development Group in Elkader. "That job inadvertently started me on a career path of economic development as the Events and Promotions Coordinator with Community Main Street  in downtown Cedar Falls," said Yaddof. "In Cedar Falls I spent a lot of time working with businesses and community organizations to plan events and promotional activities to bring people to the downtown area and ensure it remained a thriving center of the community." 

Following her time in Cedar Falls, Yaddof worked as the Director of Main Street Elkader and the Elkader Development Corporation, and then was most recently employed as the Membership and Marketing Director with WXPR public radio,  an independent public radio station in Rhinelander, Wis. "That was such a fun job! And not as different from economic development as I thought it would be, as I was still doing a lot of community building, just in a different capacity," she shared. 

Yaddof, who enjoys reading, hiking, kayaking, canoeing and most forms of recreational activity, will take her direction from an advisory team. "I will be meeting regularly with a team of advisors that will help direct my focus," said the Community Vitality Director. "Much of my time will be spent on economic development initiatives."

The Community Vitality Advisory Committee will first focus on business recruitment and retention as well as community beautification efforts. "The committee has a lot of energy and I'm excited to start working on some of their ideas," Yaddof said, "We're living in strange times, but I think there's some really easy things we can do to get started. For example, it would be super simple to place suggestive banners in empty store front windows that might read, 'I would make a great coffee shop,' drawing attention to the building's potential. Other marketing tools include hosting an event in a vacant building in an effort to get people to visualize the space as a retail destination, or allow pop-up businesses to utilize the space for a limited time."

Yaddof's past experiences working in Iowa Main Street communities will be a huge asset as she begins her work here in Guttenberg. "The Iowa Main Street program has been a fundamental catalyst for economic growth in both rural and urban communities across Iowa and I will certainly be drawing on the experiences I had working in both Cedar Falls and Elkader as I work with the Community Vitality Advisory Committee here.  

"A thriving downtown is the heart of your community. People want to live in a place that is vibrant," Yaddof explained. "The great thing about Guttenberg is that you have a solid business base already and you have a beautiful river front, which are perfect assets to build upon." 

"I've always thought Guttenberg is such a great little river town and I am looking forward to working with potential and current business owners in an effort to help them open up or remain a viable business as well as meeting and working with the people here to ensure Guttenberg will be a thriving community for years to come," she concluded. 

For additional information contact Emily Yaddof at 563-252-1161 or e-mail guttenbergcvd@gmail.com.

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