When Ron Reischl faced his impending
retirement from IBM in Austin, Texas, almost a decade ago, in a city
he loved and thought he’d never leave, his mind nevertheless kept
returning to his hometown.
And in 2008, after more than 30 years
away, Reischl moved back to the small Iowa town where he grew up.
Reischl, 65, also can’t pinpoint
exactly how it happened that he became involved in Main Street
Manning, but by January of 2011, he was working as the economic
development organization’s board president.
Now, in line with the organization’s
bylaws, he is finished with the position after serving as board
president for six years. Jeff Blum, formerly the chairman of Main
Street Manning’s Business Improvement Committee, is the
organization’s new board president, while Reischl will take Blum’s
former role as the committee chairman. Reischl’s first role with
Main Street Manning was serving on that committee.
Main Street Manning has accomplished
quite a bit during the past six years, most notably an $800,000,
three-year revitalization of 17 downtown building facades, Reischl
“That really changed the face of our
downtown district, and it has had a profound impact,” he said.
Manning has been recognized with a
variety of awards for the joint project between the city and Main
Also notable, Reischl said, was Main
Street Manning’s assistance with an expansion at the Manning Child
Care Center and its involvement in the creation of the Refresh
Manning Trust Fund, a perpetual fund designed to financially support
nonprofit entities in Manning.
For Reischl, Manning has always been
special, since its residents enveloped his family when his brother
died and again when his father was injured in a farming accident —
local farmers converged and completed the family’s harvest in just
a day or two.
“Moving away from Manning, I admired
it from afar,” Reischl said. “Being here, I came to sincerely
appreciate the number of volunteers and the passion of the volunteers
in Manning. That’s probably the biggest reason Manning has been
successful, and it goes back generations — the passion and
willingness for volunteers to get involved.”
In addition to working with the
Business Improvement Committee, Reischl plans to continue to tackle
the need for additional housing in Manning, which has been identified
as one of the city’s major roadblocks to drawing in new employees
“I’m extremely optimistic about the
Main Street organization going forward,” Reischl said. “And I’m
proud and optimistic of the makeup of the board.”
Main Street Manning’s new board has
10 adult members — five men and five women — and the majority are
less than 40 years old, Reischl said. It also has four student
members: two IKM-Manning seniors, who are voting members, and two
And Reischl, who has worked with Blum
extensively during the latter’s last few years with the board, is
confident about Main Street Manning’s future under Blum.
“I’m 100 percent certain he’ll do
a great job,” he said.
Blum, 33, graduated from Manning High
School in 2001 before attending Iowa State University to study
industrial engineering. He married his high-school sweetheart Jamie,
a 2000 Manning graduate, and they moved to Omaha for five years
before deciding several years ago they wanted to raise their family
in a town more like Manning.
They first looked at cities similar to
their hometown closer to Omaha before deciding they preferred the
“We’d always planned on ending up
in (Manning) someday,” Blum said. “So we made the jump back.”
Now, Jeff Blum works as an operations
manager at Manning manure-application company Puck Customs
Enterprises, and Jamie owns Blum Physical Therapy in Manning. They
have three daughters: Annabelle, 6, Evelyn, 4, and Josephine, 2.
And for the past few years, Blum has
been actively involved in Main Street Manning, mostly with the
Business Improvement Committee that works with local employers. He’s
also served on the Main Street Manning board for three years.
Main Street Manning provided Blum with
the perfect opportunity to become involved in the city that raised
him, he said.
“(Main Street Manning lets you) be involved in
something that’s not only doing good for the community but is
advancing the future,” he said.
And for a young couple moving back
home, helping to ensure the city’s future was important, he said.
Blum complimented the work completed in
recent years by Main Street Manning and city officials, including
Reischl, Manning Mayor Harvey Dales and City Administrator Dawn Rohe.
Main Street Manning also has had two executive directors in the past
few years, Colleen Nelson and Cindy Ranniger.
“It’s amazing the things they’d
say ‘yes’ to and the things they’d go after,” Blum said.
“Seeing people that have that determination and drive, who will
make almost anything their mission if it’ll benefit the future of
the community, is rewarding.”
With new leadership for Main Street
Manning’s board this year, the organization will inevitably look
different in the coming years, Blum said — and he’s looking
forward to the challenge.
One of Main Street Manning’s upcoming
goals will be additional analysis of the city’s merchants and
stores in an effort to better keep spending within the city’s
“We want to hone in on what niche
markets we have here and see what we can take advantage of, not only
keeping Main Street vibrant but supplementing existing businesses
with ideas and continuing to grow and expand,” he said.
“I think it’ll
be a fun challenge for everyone.”