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      Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation welcomes new executive director

      The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation's new executive director has been in office for about two weeks.

      Sharon Stroh is originally from Bellevue, Nebraska, but comes to Ottumwa from northeast Indiana, where she worked as a consultant for non-profit and community development agencies. Stroh first met with OEDC when the group visited Indiana as part of their fiber optics broadband initiative. OEDC is looking into developing a broadband network similar to the one Stroh was involved in bringing to Indiana.

      When she heard that former director David Barajas would be moving on, Stroh looked into the opportunity to take his place.

      Now that she is officially in the position of executive director, Stroh said the Ottumwa community should recognize the community's successes. Those include Market on Main, the trail system and the infrastructure the city has in place to support a large population. Then, the community can focus on what is next.

      Internally, some of Stroh's goals include developing a budget, membership and compliance issues. Externally, one of the biggest goals is a business visitation program to meet with business owners who are already in the community and those who are considering moving here.

      "There's also taking a very comprehensive land and property inventory so that when site selectors or potential business people are looking at the Ottumwa area, they know exactly what we have and we can show them what those areas are," Stroh said.

      Stroh said it's very important to continue collaboration between groups like Main Street Ottumwa, the Legacy Foundation, OEDC and the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce to foster economic development.

      Another focus in the coming years is to continue examining the housing market in Ottumwa and attract builders to renovate aging properties.