Since 1997, Kim Manning has been a driving force behind what makes Cedar Falls such an amazing place to live, work, grow, and play. As the Tourism and Cultural Manager at the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau, Kim has seen the city reach new heights and witnessed the effort of the people behind the scenes that have made it all possible. Now, after 24 years, Kim is looking forward to her next adventure: Retirement. As she looks back on her decades of service to the community, she reflects on her greatest memories, favorite events, and the friends she met along the way.
When did you start with the City of Cedar Falls?
I started in 1997 in the Tourism and Visitors Bureau as an administrative assistant. The bureau was acquired by the City in 2000. I originally attended the American Institute of Business in Des Moines for court reporting but discovered quickly that wasn't for me. When I began my job at the bureau, it felt immediately like I was making a difference and an impact on the community. That was the driving force and I knew I wanted to stay.
What have been the most memorable events from your time at the Tourism and Visitors Bureau?
We hosted three successful overnight visits from RAGBRAI during my time here which is a big deal and requires a lot of community effort. The greatest thing from that experience is the relationships and processes that developed from it, both on campus and off. I am told it actually led to the University of Northern Iowa hosting visits by Michelle Obama and the Dalai Lama. They refined the processes and confidence necessary to host events like this due to their RAGBRAI experiences. We all benefit from their ability to bring events of this size and caliber to our community.
Why do you believe community events are so successful in Cedar Falls?
It is the people. We have outstanding volunteers in Cedar Falls. They are so talented and dedicated to providing a wide variety of local events which takes a lot of commitment and work on their part. They do what they say and say what they mean.
Who have been some of your favorite people to work with over the years?
There have been several longstanding volunteers that have been here longer than I have. I get weekly calls from Rosemary Beach, one of our active Cedar Falls citizens. She is always coming up with new ideas to implement and we have been able to execute at least half of them. I also really enjoyed working with Ward Stubbs and Bruce Sorensen when we built the Visitor Center. The center was built in 2004 and I’m really proud of the fact that, until the COVID-19 pandemic, it was open seven days a week for 16 years. It is all thanks to our outstanding volunteers. The Cedar Falls community amazes me. People are so invested locally and volunteer their time, talent, and treasures to make amazing things happen here.
What is your fondest memory at the Tourism and Visitors Bureau?
One of the state's most coveted awards is the Outstanding Tourism Community award. We have been honored with that on three occasions. It feels really good to have that under our belt because it is truly a community award. That's not me. It is everyone.
What has it been like being part of the Cedar Falls team?
I feel so proud of the staff and volunteers. The chemistry we have built at the Hearst Center for the Arts and the Visitor Center has been amazing. Heather Skeens, the Cultural Programs Supervisor at the Hearst, is doing an outstanding job leading plans and preparing the facility for an exciting future. The energy and professionalism at the Visitor Center is incredible. We set the stage for the next manager to make an even bigger impact to further develop Cedar Falls into an outstanding destination.
Cedar Falls is such a unique community. People here work to honor our roots by preserving historic buildings and that lends itself to a small-town feel with big-city fun, destinations, and events. It is really all due to the work ethic of the citizens here and their eagerness to share our amazing city with the world. When I started, there were just a handful of hotels and now we are up to 14. It has been a strong and steady growth and I think that has been very healthy. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Cedar Falls.
The Cedar Falls Visitor Center will host an open house for Kim Manning on July 29, 2021, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend to thank Kim for her years of service to the city and wish her a happy retirement.