May 12, 2021

Saluting local developers

NDC awards Prendergast, DMACC Newton Campus at annual luncheon

The Newton Development Corporation distributed awards during a recent business and industry showcase to Newton Elite Properties and the Des Moines Area Community College Newton Campus for their continued investments into the city.

Held Wednesday at the DMACC Newton Conference Center, NDC’s “Salute to Business & Industry” event acknowledged the award recipients and their respected work. The showcase also allowed representatives — Julia Prendergast of Newton Elite Properties, LLC and DMACC Newton Campus Provost Joe DeHart with DMACC Business Resources Executive Director Kim Didier — to conduct presentations about their history, progress and upcoming developments.

Jo Jenkins, chair of the NDC Board, welcomed business and industry leaders, city officials and organization reps to the luncheon, remarking upon the purpose of the showcase and the subsequent awards.

“When I think about where we’ve been and where we are now and where we’re going, a bunch of words that begin with the letter ‘C’ came to mind,” Jenkins said. “Today, we’re celebrating a caring community that embraces change with the clarity and collaboration of many that are committed to community growth. That’s what we’re all about today … We’re going to see our award winners exemplify this celebration of community.”

After receiving her Jim Tyler Entrepreneurial Award, named after one of the founders of NDC, Prendergast said she was surprised by and pleased with the accolade, though earning awards is not the reason why she does what she does at Newton Elite Properties, which is also comprised of her husband Rick Roush and Josh and Becky Firkins.

“I do it because I really do have a passion to make Newton succeed,” she said. “I have businesses here and it all plays a part. (The entrepreneurial award) was kind of an added bonus. I’m very honored.”

Tanya Michener, associate director of NDC, said the award is given out to individuals who are entrepreneurial and “have made an investment in Newton in the last year.” Prendergast had met those standards prior to accepting the honor, but Michener said Newton Elite Properties’ efforts were more apparent this year.

“Julia is helping build the entrepreneurial spirit that already existed in Newton,” Michener said. “Along with others she has been a catalyst recently to get that going.”

In addition to her development efforts with Newton Elite Properties — which is currently transforming the former Scoreboard sports bar into a new retail shop called Esther & Co. and is also filling redeveloped space in the former Newton Manufacturing building that had been purchased in 2017 — Prendergast has worked in the polyurethane industry for more than 25 years. She also owns Fine Things Reclaimed, Fresh Flowers and Back Alley Beauty Salon.

She keeps herself busy, noting she has “three more things cookin’” for future efforts. However, the next task she wants to focus on is to finish leasing out the rest of the former Newton Manufacturing building.

“I have three or four people that are moving in the next couple weeks,” she said. “I’ll continue to work for opportunities that make sense for Newton, and I can help in that same kind of way so that we don’t have empty buildings. I think busyness creates business. I like that kind of energy. It’s exciting!”

DMACC Newton Campus received a special recognition award not only for reaching its 25-year milestone in town, but also for its recent momentum shift filling new leases at Legacy Plaza, formerly known as the Maytag headquarters.

DeHart primarily presented attendees with old photos and videos of the DMACC campus, highlighting the building’s past, present and future endeavors, as well as its impact in Newton over the past two-and-a-half decades.

Afterward, Didier shared the progress of Legacy Plaza and its successes securing leases for Iowa Lean Consortium, AeroCare, CIRAS, The Cellar Peanut Pub, Gezellig Brewing Co., Compass Mortgage, DMACC Business Resources, Thombert, Aureon, Re-Wire Yoga Studio and Numbers and Letters Inc.

Didier concluded her presentation with a video depicting a mock animation of the Legacy Plaza vision in its entirety. She encouraged attendees to not underestimate the power individuals have at helping DMACC make vision its a reality, noting The Cellar Peanut Pub’s Newton location was due to city council member Lin Chapé “inviting a colleague to come look at the campus.”

“You never know exactly who you are connecting with and how your influence of inviting them to our campus and to be apart of this incredible project will impact it,” Didier said.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or