CFE among award winners at NWID Partner Meeting

Cooperative Farmers Elevator (CFE) was among three businesses and organizations recognized at the 11th Annual Northwest Iowa Development (NWID) Partner Meeting at the Hawarden Community Center in Hawarden on September 9.

More than 110 community and regional leaders from the four-county NWID region and the city of LeMars representing economic development, business, city councils and boards of supervisors, and others with an interest in growing the region attended the 2021 Partner Meeting.

“NWID is a partnership of local economic developers and supporters and stakeholders for economic development,” NWID Chairperson Stephanie Neppl, Executive Director of Osceola Economic Development Commission said during the presentation. “We are all focusing daily on the building blocks of economic development in our communities and counties. These building blocks include such key items as workforce daycare and housing.”

Neppl focused on four key building blocks that Northwest Iowa Development is working to strengthen. First, NWID’s continuing effort to support market expansion of regional businesses through foreign trade. Second, NWID efforts to address the workforce challenges of regional manufacturers. Third, assistance to entrepreneurs through The BIG Challenge (Build, Innovate, Grow) program, formerly the Dream Big, Grow Here program – And fourth, NWID’s consistent effort to build, feature and strengthen cooperative partnerships with organizations that are vital to economic success in Northwest Iowa.

Steve Simons, Vice-Chairperson and Lyon County Economic Development Director, followed with presentation of five regional Northwest Iowa Development awards – two awards of appreciation and three economic development awards.

Two individuals were recognized for their contributions to the NWID organization with Awards of Appreciation. Alethea Stubbe, retired president of Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) in Sheldon was recognized for her 30-year career at NCC, 10 years as the college’s president and her support of regional economic development. Neal Adler, retired LeMars Chamber of Commerce and LeMars Business Initiative Corporation was honored for his 27-year career in LeMars and leadership in growing LeMars and supporting NWID regional initiatives.

Receiving the Kirk Grau Business or Organization Innovation Award was Cooperative Farmers Elevator of Ocheyedan. CFE completed a new feed mill project using state-of-the-art technology to increase tons manufacturer and produce a higher, more consistent quality product.

The second Kirk Grau Business or Organization Innovation Award was presented to the Northwest Iowa Manufacturing Sector Partnership, an organization focused on workforce. This unique partnership between 22 regional manufacturers, NCC and NWID is focused on promoting manufacturing careers in northwest Iowa and works with a Career Coach to build relationships with local school districts.

City of Sheldon and Sheldon Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation was recognized by Northwest Iowa Development with the Beyond Expectations Economic Development Support Award for its Comeback Cash program to stimulate the local community economy during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Debi Durham, Executive Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA), picked up on the building blocks of economic development and how they will impact future competitiveness of the state. She pointed out that “we in Iowa have a population problem” even with population growth of 4.7% in the 2020 Census.

She went on to explain the need for Iowa to be welcoming to workers and to promote the state as a place with a low cost of living and plentiful opportunities. Those building blocks – housing, daycare, education, recreation, healthcare – are the items that need attention to attract and retain residents.

Northwest Iowa Development is a regional economic development marketing organization focused on growing businesses and communities in northwest Iowa. It includes the counties of Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Osceola and the city of LeMars. For more information, visit or contact your local economic development organization.

Photo: Cooperative Farmers Elevator received the Kirk Grau 2021 Business and Organizational Innovation Award. Pictured are CFE Vice-President of Feed, Steve Peterson; CEO Rob Jacobs and NWID Board member Dennis Dokter of Sioux Center.

Photo Credit:  Lori Richards, Northwest Iowa Community College