WASHINGTON, IOWA — Wednesday, March 1, 2023
The Greater Washington Business Partnership Annual Dinner was held February 27, at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. The partnership includes the Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG), Main Street Washington and the Washington Chamber of Commerce. Almost 300 attendees gathered to enjoy a social hour, dinner and a program highlighting the organizational accomplishments from this past year. One of the most anticipated parts of the evening are the award announcements from each of the economic development groups.
Washington Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year: Southeast Iowa Union
Matt Bryant, Publisher & Manager of the Southeast Iowa Union, and his teamwork with a passion that results in a high-quality product for the readers of the Union. Bryant believes strongly that it’s very important that Washington continues to have a 5-day daily. In the state of Iowa, there are 24 communities that publish 5 days a week or more. Of those, 3 are managed by the Union and the remaining 21 are all in towns larger than Washington.
While many communities have seen a reduction of their daily papers to once or twice a week, the team at the Union has worked hard to remain vibrant. In 2022, the Union purchased 6 newspapers, one shopper, and they recently acquired 2 more papers in February of 2023. As if the recent acquisitions didn’t keep them busy enough, the Union launched a video streaming video platform, Washington Live!, in June of 2022.
The Union is breaking records across the state and received no fewer than 8 awards in the most recent Iowa Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest, including three first place awards for its website, podcast, and column writing.
The Southeast Iowa Union Company is a part of The Gazette, an employee-owned company. In media – it’s a big deal. There are just three employee-owned newspapers in the country.
Washington Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year: Isabella Santoro
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes an individual that has gone the extra mile to get involved in programs & activities that benefit Washington. Isabella Santoro highlights these qualities by serving on several committees and boards including the local Library Board Steering Committee, LET’s Center for the Healing and Creative Arts, PEO, American Association of University Women, Hotel Motel Tax Administration Committee, and a founding member of the Farm to Film Festival. She was also involved in making Washington one of the Great Places in Iowa and was a huge part of winning the “Meet Me in Washington” Mural. Isabella has several ongoing projects including the restoration of Winga’s Café. She encourages others, demonstrates leadership, has strong ethics, and does everything in Washington with integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. Her passion and enthusiasm for Washington perfectly demonstrates the characteristics as citizen of the year!
Main Street Washington Volunteer of the Year: Dawn Schindler
Dawn has served as the Main Street Washington bookkeeper since 2010 but is often involved in much more than just making sure they’re on top of the books. Last year in particular, Dawn stepped up as their fearless leader between executive director tenures and dedicated her free time as a volunteer to ensure that Main Street could continue in what turned out to be a few tumultuous months. Between serving on the hiring committee to find our next director to co-leading the Lights of Love Memorial Tree’s Campaign with Illa Earnest, Dawn worked tirelessly to advance the efforts of Main Street. Without Dawn’s endless efforts last year, Main Street would not be the same as it is today.
WEDG Harvey Holden Award Winner: Washington County Public Health
Since 1998, the Washington Economic Development Group has awarded the Harvey Holden Outstanding Service Award. The award is named for Harvey Holden. Mr. Holden retired in 1998 from the City of Washington after several terms as Mayor, and several prior terms on the Washington City Council. He was a farmer and businessman. He served on the board of directors of several businesses and non-profit organizations. He was passionate about Washington, dedicated to service and doing his best for this community.
RenElla Crawford of HACAP was awarded the Harvey Holden award for working closely with private individuals, businesses, and the health care sectors to address the needs of our communities. She has played an important and unique role in mitigating the economic consequences of late. Crawford has worked tirelessly, especially in the past few years, to keep Washington County residents safe and housed in a rapidly changing housing shortage and inflationary environment. She went above and beyond in establishing housing and food for those in need while volunteering on countless boards and committees.
For questions, please contact Mikayla Slechta, Washington Chamber of Commerce Outreach Coordinator at 319-653-3272. ###