New chambers: Iola Chamber of Commerce moves to downtown spot

The Iola Chamber will move its offices to 10 W. Jackson Ave., near the Iola City Hall on the courthouse square.

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March 18, 2022 - 1:01 AM

Iola Area Chamber of Commerce Director Robin Schallie shows off the Chamber’s upcoming new office at 10 W. Jackson Ave., near City Hall. Photo by Susan Lynn / Iola Register

“I can barely contain my excitement,” said Robin Schallie at the news that the Iola Chamber of Commerce is relocating to the downtown square.

“We’re shooting for April 10,” said Schallie, who serves as Chamber director.

The new location is 10 W. Jackson, just to the west of city hall and directly across from the bandstand on the courthouse square.

“I can’t wait for the summer band concerts to begin. We’ll make sure to keep our doors open then, if for nothing else than to provide public restrooms for concert-goers,” she said.

Schallie said the move to a different location from the lower level of the Bowlus Fine Arts Center had been in the back of her mind ever since she was hired last August.

“We were the best kept secret in town,” she lamented about the location. “Not ideal for a Chamber of Commerce.”

Iola Chamber of Commerce Director Robin Schaille peeks through what will be her office window to the front reception area.Photo by Susan Lynn / Iola Register

The only downside, Schallie said, is leaving the Bowlus staff, “who were amazing to have around.”

The Chamber will have access to about 1,500 square feet. Also sharing the space is Dr. Dawny Barnhart, a psychiatrist, who in collaboration with the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will have an office there.

Barnhart’s husband, Jonathan Adams, owns the building. 

The Chamber is renting the space from Adams for $600 a month, the same rate it paid for an office at the Bowlus.

Schallie says the mural on the building’s south wall will be retouched and the Chamber’s logo added.Photo by Susan Lynn / Iola Register

The larger space includes a front reception area where co-worker Lindsay Myers will have her desk; a separate office for Schallie, another office that will likely be used for storage, and a large meeting area in the rear. 

Schallie also envisions it as a place where start-up businesses could set up shop or use to hold meetings. It’s also a good meeting space for other nonprofits such as CTIF or the Trolley board, she said.

On the outside, Schallie is looking to have the Electric Railroad mural touched up on the south wall of the building as well as add the Chamber’s logo.

A sign indicates the building was erected in 1883 and was home to Strickland and McIntyre Billiards.

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