WEBSTER CITY - Almost two years after the Electrolux plant in Webster City closed, the town is slowly showing signs of coming back.
City Manager Ed Sadler said the plant's closing was a massive blow to the town, with hundreds being forced out of work.
But over the past year, he said the town has showed signs of getting back on its feet.
-Messenger photo by Peter Kasapri
Benjamin Everson, owner of Mornin’ Glory Coffee Shoppe in Webster City, prepares a shot of espresso for a customer. Everson, who took over ownership of the business last year, said he’s seen a great response to the business in the past several months.
"If you truly look around town, you'll see positive changes," he said. "We have new buildings, our bank had an addition and our high school added a new gym."
He added other businesses have moved into new buildings, and some of the car dealerships in town have announced expansions.
Sadler said the town is in the process of building a new deep-water well, which will help the local farmers.
"Many people are talking about a statewide drought," he said. "We feel like we'll be prepared if that happens with our new well."
Last summer, the city was also greatly helped by RAGBRAI, which stopped overnight in Webster City.
"That brought tens of thousands of people to town," he said. "We had over 800 volunteers helping out in one way or another."
Sadler even admitted he had some RAGBRAI cyclists stay overnight in his house.
"We have 8,000 people in town," he said. "When you realize how many people volunteered, that's one in 10."
Over the past year, Sadler said the town has seen a number of small start-ups. He added a good number of Webster City businesses have been working on expansions and welcoming new people into leadership roles.
"The coffee shop was put under new management last year," he said. "We also have a new business that provides in-home care for the elderly."
Benjamin Everson, the owner of Mornin' Glory Coffe Shoppe, said he decided to take over the restaurant after attending culinary school.
"I thought it would be a fun way to mix in everybody's favorite drink, which is coffee, and quality food," he said. "It's nice to be able to make someone's day with a nice latte or a mocha. They're able to come in, take a load off and enjoy a drink."
Everson, who took over Mornin' Glory last year, said he believed 2012 was successful.
"It was fun getting to know my everyday customers and be able to interact with them," he said. "It's all about being involved, helping people out and getting to know the people in your town."
Everson said he's looking forward to 2013.
"We'll hopefully be expanding our menu for food and offer some other options," he said. "We plan on coming up with some new drinks and trying out some new ideas for food."
Sadler said looking ahead to 2013, he believes times will only get better.
"We had the Chambers' annual meeting the other day, and there was nothing but positive feedback," he said. "We saw people coming to the meeting that nobody had ever seen before."
JoAnn Robb, the assistant to the director of the Webster City Chamber of Commerce, said that organization has seen growth over the past year.
"We're quite active within the community," she said. "We're always working on new events such as chamber coffees and holding special activities for businesses."
Robb said Webster City has many positive features that make it a good place to start a business.
"It's small enough that everybody knows each other, and we have good services here in town that are nice to have," she said. "I'm also pleased that we as a chamber are still involved in Iowa. Some states don't even have them anymore, so we have a lot to offer."
Robb said the chamber is keeping busy hiring a new director, which is expected to happen sometime in the next few weeks.
Sadler added that he also has news that he believes will benefit Webster City, but at this point it can't be revealed.
"We're hopeful that this will bear fruit for us," he said.
One of Webster City's strengths, he said, is that many people in town start up their own endeavors.
"We have a tremendous history of entrepreneurship," he said. "Years ago, even the Electrolux plant was a local business."
He said Webster City is proud of how many local businesses are still in town.
"This is who Webster City is," he said. "It's always been people who get an idea, start up their business and grow. We know we'll continue to be that way."
Sadler added despite the loss of Electrolux, the town hasn't been losing people. In fact, he said people are actually moving to Webster City and not from it.
"Our good reputation makes people want to live here," he said. "People are choosing to live here. Our crime rates are very low, we've got good schools, and we're safe."
He said he's hopeful for the future of Webster City.
"We're looking forward to what's next for us," he said. "We feel what's coming up will be an advantage to the community."