New faces, ideas for the Downtown Development Authority | News, Sports, Jobs
IRON MOUNTAIN — New faces bring new ideas to downtown Iron Mountain.
Mindy Wittock joined the Iron Mountain Downtown Development Authority as program director in June, while Tania Mishra became event coordinator the following month.
Although they’ve been in their roles for several months, the duo say it wasn’t until 2022 that they were able to integrate their ideas for making Downtown an exciting place to live, work and play.
“When Tania and I arrived, everything had already been planned, so we were just managing events”, said Wittock. “This is the first year that we have been able to plan everything from scratch and implement our own insight.”
They agree they share mutual visions, with a primary goal to make sure people want to come downtown. “We believe in uplifting our community and building strong relationships with our downtown businesses,” said Wittock.
The DDA’s mission is to create a vibrant downtown in Iron Mountain by fostering economic growth by hosting community events, attracting new businesses, and advancing the beautification and historic preservation of the neighborhood.
“Iron Mountain offers so much in all seasons,” said Wittock. “We’ve had so much economic growth and still have so many possibilities and opportunities.”
With that in mind, they plan to start more “downstairs” activities, such as their recent Be Mine campaign, to engage the community. Another idea being discussed is a pumpkin walk during Halloween. “This will encourage public and business participation and increase foot traffic,” Michra said.
The DDA will also focus more on Carpenter Avenue businesses this year.
“This will also be reflected in our marketing plans and outdoor advertising,” Mishra said. “So it feels like a downtown – more cohesive.”
The return in May will be the third Thursday. “It started before the pandemic but slowly declined,” said Wittock. “We’re bringing it back – focusing on different downtown neighborhoods.”
They also set dates for major events: June 11 — Brew Fest; August 13 — Italian Day; October 1 – Oktoberfest; November 17 — Girls’ Night Out; and December 9 — Christmas Walk.
Out to Lunch will continue every Thursday, from June 9 to August 11.
“We have returning regulars, and we’re also bringing in new talent like Rebel Jane,” Michra said.
Another collective goal is to grow their social media presence, targeting a wider audience through TikTok and Instagram posts.
Wittock and Mishra will also work on redesigning the DDA website. This includes updating their business directory to include more information.
They’ll also be revisiting Girls’ Night Out and hope to make it even better this year.
The DDA is always looking for volunteers. In addition to helping with festivals, the council has three sub-committees – beautification, events and business development. “It’s a low-key commitment,” said Wittock. “They meet once a month and any ideas presented go to the board.”
“We couldn’t do it without the people in the community,” Mishra pointed out. “Volunteers add so much energy – we would be nothing without them.”
Local businesses have been generous with their time and support at DDA events, Wittock added. “They are a big part of it.”
Wittock, who is also a professional artist, received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and her Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University.
Previously, she was Associate Lecturer in Art and Gallery Director at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and co-founder of a collaborative mail-order embroidery project called The Wondermakers Collective. She co-hosted “The Artist/Mother’s Morning Show” with the Artist/Mother podcast and is a mentor for female artists.
Wittock has an extensive exhibition record and has been shown nationally and internationally.
She believes that art has the power to bring communities together and carries this passion into her work with the DDA.
“Iron Mountain is my hometown and I feel like this work is a big inspiration for my artwork. I go downtown every day and walk around the neighborhood and the buildings I frequented when I was a child, said Wittock. “I have so many happy and adventurous memories of living here and I try to tap into my nostalgic heart and bring a sense of wonder to this position.”
Wittock said she enjoys working in the heartbeat of Iron Mountain and believes that through creativity and the magic of tangible goal setting, magic can happen.
“I learn every day about the needs and wants of our downtown businesses and hope to foster relationships with community members as I continue to grow in this role,” said Wittock.
“Downtown has changed so much since I was a kid – it’s wonderful to see all the positive changes,” she says. “I love being able to be a part of this ongoing change by working with the DDA and providing grants to revitalize and restore our downtown.”
Mishra is a digital advertising professional with over seven years of experience in project management, new business sales and the planning, management and execution of digital brand campaigns, both on the agency side than brand.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics, creative writing, and English, and graduated as valedictorian for the class of 2014 from Purdue University. Mishra received her Masters in Integrated Marketing, with a specialization in Marketing Analytics, from New York University last May. She received the Student Leader of the Year award for her commitment during a pandemic year.
Mishra works full time at 41 Lumber as a Marketing Manager and spends the rest of her time as an Events Coordinator. She fuses her business skills and creativity with her passion for giving back to her community in her role as DDA Events Coordinator.
“Working as an event coordinator allows me to stay connected to and give back to our local businesses and community,” she says.
“Having moved to Iron Mountain just over a year ago, it was a great way to learn about the traditions of our community and build new relationships,” she says. “In this role, I continue to learn and re-learn methods of marketing to our audience, and I hope I can use my skills to help Iron Mountain’s rebirth.”
Wittock and Mishra agree they make a great team, balancing each other out.
“Working with Tania is so much fun. She excels in marketing and event planning. I’d be lost without her.” said Wittock.
“Working with Mindy is truly an enriching experience. His creativity and positive approach to everything we do makes work not feel like work at all,” Michra said.