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Ollendieck readies for challenges ahead for Tama County Economic Development

May 3, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor (editor@dysartreporter.com) , Dysart Reporter

Katherine Ollendieck of rural Dysart was named Economic Development Director of the Tama County Economic Development Commission (TCEDC) on April 9, and since then she's feels the need to hit the ground running.

Ollendieck has spent the past twenty years as an independent consultant and grant writer, assisting Iowa communities to secure grant funds for community development projects. She worked as the Benton County Economic Development Director before that, where she assisted businesses and industries, as well as programs meant to develop local child care and economic growth.

"I remember being in the right place at the right time," Ollendieck said. "When I moved into the area 20 years ago, I was looking for a job and ended up in Vinton at the Economic Development office. I worked there for two years before being promoted. The opportunity came along and discovered I have a passion for community development."

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After 18 years of working as a grant writer, Ollendieck saw the opportunity to work as the Economic Development Director for Tama County as the "right time" after years of working closely with Tama County. In her previous position with Benton County, she wrote a grant for the Tama County Supervisors to get funds to start TCEDC and now feels the process has come full-circle with her accepting this position.

"I have such a passion for community development, but I'm also systematic, organized about how I approach projects," Ollendieck said. "I feel I have a great deal of enthusiasm, which can be contagious at times. Those are all qualities I feel will help me in this job a great deal."

Going forward, Ollendieck and the Economic Development board plan to reach out to business and industry in Tama County, connect to cities for housing development based on each community's needs, work on quality-of-life projects, continue to develop a growing tourism industry in the county and "whatever comes our direction".

"We're here to listen to our communities and fill in the gap whatever way we can," Ollendieck said. "This a rural county with a diverse business community. 10 years ago, we'd never guess people would flock to Tama County for all kinds of tourism and recreational resources. Economic development is a moving target, and you have to be prepared to react to the changes in our economy. We have to forecast what we're going to do that helps in the future. Several communities need help addressing housing and we plan to help them however we can."

In her initial few weeks, Ollendieck has taken numerous industry calls, spoke at the Dysart Development Corporation on her first day and is making plans to visit all city councils in the county.

"I feel it's important to remind these communities we are stronger together than apart, and if we pool our resources together we can get some projects done," Ollendieck said. "I hope as we accomplish our goals together, communities who drifted away will want to come back."

Ollendieck and her husband Doug have lived in rural Dysart for 25 years, raising two children: daughter Abigail, a senior at UNI, and son Sam, a senior at Union Community School District.

 
 

 

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