Manning, Iowa (pop. 1,500) is our featured rural community this week. Manning has been recognized as an Iowa Small Business Administration Community of the Year award, winning out against cities of all sizes, and was highlighted for demonstrating ideal collaborative community efforts to support small business success. We'll be sharing stories throughout the week of some local business owners who are making an impact in the community. Today's guest blog post is from Dawn Meyer, City Administrator.
* * *
Welcome to Manning! We're excited to be Rural Revival's featured town this week! As the City Administrator, I’m obviously a little biased, but Manning has a lot to offer people of all ages. As a millennial myself, I find Manning has been a great place to establish long-lasting friendships, raise a family, and take advantage of lots of big-city amenities while enjoying the safety and comfort of a small town. And it’s not just a town to take from -- it’s an awesome community to give back to also. Manning has a history of empowering people who want to make a difference -- and you can see it in projects all across town that are being led by younger generations. I’d invite you to come visit, stay awhile, and experience the vibrancy and camaraderie our small town has to offer. Here are just a few examples of things we love...
The word that comes to mind when I think of Manning’s downtown shopping experience is “surprising.” As you stroll down our historic Main Street, listening to the music playing from the speaker system, and smelling the flowers in the planters, you wouldn’t guess what’s behind some of our storefronts. Step inside Manning Pharmacy and you’ll be hit with the smells of their candle selection, be surrounded by fun home décor and gift items, and will catch a glimpse of the sparkle from the jewelry they sell. Next door at the Market Place, you can satisfy their sweet tooth with fresh-baked muffins and a latte while you browse the huge selection of clothing, décor, and one-of-a-kind, hand-made items. This is the perfect place to find that conversation piece for your dining room table, or the newest outfit for a night on the town. If you stop across the street at Main Street Liquors, you may come for a bottle of wine, but you’ll leave with wine, home décor, a gift, and a little Templeton Rye memorabilia.
Many towns of 1500 are lucky to have one dining option. Manning has several. Cliff’s Place is a three-generation family-owned business with steak, burgers, salad bar, and a staff that will learn quickly what you drink and how much of their famous Ranch dressing to bring you with your French fries (apparently that’s an Iowa thing). Deb’s Corner Café opens bright and early to get you started with an “everything omelet” for breakfast. Or come in a little later and experience the famous pork tenderloin. You won’t leave hungry as the friendly staff convinces you to try a slice of homemade pie or a cream puff. BrickHaus Brews is the third full-service restaurant in Manning, but you forget you’re in a rural community when you’re inside of this place. Gourmet pizza, wraps, and appetizers coupled with friendly wait staff and bartenders really makes this place live up to their slogan “Big City Atmosphere-Small Town Cheer.” And don’t forget about your food options at L & M Bowl, Whitey’s Bar, when you’re out on the town. They know how to take care of you, too.
Last, but not least, I wanted to take a minute to brag about Manning as a community. Manning’s community amenities are unmatched in towns of 1500. With a newly-expanded child care center, a new $22 million hospital, a new assisted living facility, home health services, meals on wheels, a senior center, and a nursing home, we truly take care of our residents for their entire lives. The city also offers an ever-growing trail system, several parks, community gardens, and a 24-hour access Recreation Center with a full gym, racquetball court, weight room, and indoor pool. All of Manning’s amenities are made possible by the people of the community. Manning strives to cut the red tape and really allow volunteers to make a difference by empowering them. Public art is a great example of how a few motivated people wanted to improve the community—and they did! Another new project being led by young, energetic community members is the “Hillside Splash” project—an outdoor pool and water play addition to the Rec Center.
People in Manning make real differences every day—building significant new community improvements, helping out their neighbor in need, and running remarkable businesses that help keep Manning vibrant and refreshing. And because of the rural setting, those contributions are significant, real, and are recognized by the entire community. Manning is truly a community where you can get a lot, give a lot, and make a huge impact.