What group of individuals continues to gather at 7 a.m. once a month to work toward improving the way of life in Hiawatha? The Board of Directors of the Hiawatha Foundation for Economic Development.
Celebrating its 40th year of helping Hiawatha businesses and development, the Hiawatha Foundation for Economic Development (HFED) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to help current businesses expand, enlist new business, and develop community resources that will attract families to the Hiawatha community. As a testament to HFED’s commitment, the organization has been operational for 40 years deriving largely from the efforts of volunteer civic leaders.
Forty successful years have resulted in recruiting and retaining some of Hiawatha’s largest businesses and helping many other smaller businesses to start up and thrive.
Managers include Director Mikaela Moore, along with board President Virginia Freese, Vice President John Broberg, Secretary Luke Moore and Treasurer Tony Stueve.
HFED exists to be a resource for businesses and individuals looking to start or expand their business. Strong working relationships with the Kansas Department of Commerce, Northeast Kansas Enterprise Facilitation, and the Washburn Small Business Development Center, among others, has assisted new businesses and resulted in job opportunities for Hiawatha.
Membership is open to any interested businesses and individuals who support community development and envision a prospering Hiawatha for years to come. Members elect a board of 15 individuals, who meet the second Thursday of every month to deliberate on economic development initiatives.
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for local businesses and HFED met that challenge head-on by creating a Brown County COVID-19 Grand Fund for Small Businesses to aid in small business retention. As part of this fund, HFED was able to award $1,000 grants to 44 local businesses. HFED also assisted Brown County in administering a $12,500 microloan so that it could be awarded to a local business for COVID relief.
HFED is helping three local businesses in their efforts to expand in Hiawatha and sponsored the Kansas Bridging Program that made it possible for the hospital to successfully recruit a new doctor to begin in Hiawatha in 2022.
HFED continued to work with the City of Hiawatha to clean up derelict properties and successfully identified the need for a Hiawatha Land Bank to help distressed properties become better utilized for the community.
HFED plans to continue to work on recruiting new business to the area and supporting the existing businesses and continuing to support those businesses who have met struggles through COVID-19 and other challenges they face. As part of its business recruitment plans, HFED has an incentive program for land at 12th and Iowa as well as helping new entrepreneurs to make connections for successfully launching new businesses. HFED plans to continue working with three businesses it has been helping to grow in Hiawatha through new locations.
HFED currently has 62 members and has plans to look for opportunities to grow the membership as well as continue to pursue housing solutions for Hiawatha.
Mixers and workshops are being planned for this next year, to provide networking and educational opportunities for the business community.
HFED plans to continue to fund and administer the Rural Opportunity Zone for Brown County in an effort to attract and retain college graduates in Brown County. In addition, HFED will continue to administer the Brown County Microloan and the Free Lots for Owner-Occupied Housing Program.
As with any non-profit organization, funds are always limited. HFED relies on the dues collected annually in order to be able to support our businesses and our community. We invite an individual or business to join us in our mission to help Hiawatha, its businesses and its residents continue to prosper.
Ag Partners Cooperative, Inc.
Bruna Brothers Implement
Citizen’s State Bank
Delaney Law Office
Dr Jordan D. Haedt DDS
Hiawatha Chamber & Visitors Bureau
Highland Community College
Hiawatha Family Dentistry
Hiawatha Tire and Lube
Horizon Therapy Associates LLC
I Do Hair
Jade Millwrights, Inc.
Just For You Jewelry and Gifts
Kanza Mental Health
Koch & Company Inc.
Leland & Debra Hansen
Mainstreet Flower Shoppe
Maximum Realty, Inc.
Michael W. Riley, Attorney at Law
Morrill & Janes Bank and Trust
Nations Financial Group
NEK Veterinary Services
Ryan Meininger-State Farm
Stallbaumer Family Chiropractic
Tice Health Mart
Wilde Tool Company Inc.