We Lead welcomes new director

Mary Atkinson · Wednesday, October 23, 2013
After months of searching, We Lead of West Liberty has finally named a new Executive Director for Economic and Business Development. Her name: Shannon McNaul.

We Lead works to promote economic growth in West Liberty. It's ultimate goal is to bring business into town, which improves the over-all quality of life in the community.

McNaul's first mission is along these lines, she plans to build economic diversity in the area.

"One of the goals is to look at strategic planning for We Lead and see how it can help immigrate growth in the economic sector and the business development sector of West Liberty and surrounding outlying areas," McNaul said.

Specifically, she would like to focus on downtown West Liberty and surrounding business areas.

To prepare, a lot of her daily activities revolve around getting to know the community and hearing how it wants the downtown, outlying business development and industrial areas to appear.

She's already heard stories about particular areas not looking the way citizens would like, as well as what's been tried, what's worked and what hasn't worked. McNaul wants to help build the community.

"Our goal is to be the driving force behind it," she said, "To actually go out and look for companies that want to come in and help make partnerships. To sell the city."

We Lead and Iowa State University have a partnership, through which We Lead is partially funded. McNaul said she'll specialize in the field of historic and tax credits with preservation of downtown areas.

"I'll not only use that knowledge to work in West Liberty, but also be able to help other communities," she said.

Downtown West Liberty is registered as a historic district, McNaul said the town may be able to leverage that to get grant money, as well as some other funding resources, to help renovate the downtown area.

For her, economic development and building business means creating a downtown that has the complete package. She plans to work with schools and other organizations to make that possible.

"Every community needs to have a face and a heart," she said, "Your face and heart are usually your downtown. You want to drive the business downtown, then it will parcel out to storefronts on Highway 6 in the industrial area and Liberty Park. This will not be an overnight project."

McNaul will have an open door policy. She is excited to hear what people have to say.

"If you have something that you really think is important and want to share, please tell," she said. I'm pretty hard to offend. So, even if you don't think it's important, all the knowledge and information I can gather right now is good."

We Lead Administrator Dauna Kiser said she is happy to have McNaul on the board because of her experience and personality. She believes McNaul will excel in economic and business development.

"You name it and she can do it, we complement each other very well," she said.

McNaul is from Grinnell. Her last job was building youth centers and programs.

She is married to Police Chief Lawrence McNaul. They reside in West Liberty with their two daughters, Reghan, ninth grade, and Kennedy, sixth grade.
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