White named new Main Street Lansing Executive Director

Craig White

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

Craig White is the new Executive Director of Main Street Lansing. White brings an  extensive background in marketing, organizational communication and public relations to the job. White, originally an Ottumwa native, majored in business marketing and minored in journalism at the University of Iowa. He completed a masters degree in journalism there as well.
White and his partner are very familiar with the Lansing area since they have been coming to visit relatives on a family farm in the area for over 30 years. Fifteen years ago, they purchased a portion of land from the farm with the dream of eventually building a home there. Two years ago, they left the corporate hub bub of city life and decided it was time to fulfill that dream. They built their dream home on a beautiful piece of land surrounded by prairie grasses and pastures. A friend mentioned the job opening to White, which started the wheels turning.
White stated, “I felt it was a perfect fit for my skill set, education and experience. Plus it was in Lansing. We had wanted to become more involved in the community and had been impressed by what we knew Main Street Lansing has already accomplished. What more could be right about this job?”
Main Street Lansing board members felt the same way. White’s extensive experience  in marketing and journalism over the past 30 years impressed the board.
White’s first job was as marketing director for the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. "That will always be my favorite job because it was my first job," he said. "It was so exciting to be working in the real world doing what I had been learning how to do all through my college education.”
Next, White worked as a publisher and manager for BWH Publishing in Minneapolis, MN. White’s career has taken him all over the United States working for various corporations in marketing and journalism. Now he’s ready to apply that experience in his new job as Executive Director of Main Street Lansing, promoting the community.
White stated, “ I see lots of positives and opportunities in Main Street Lansing. A huge plus is the dedicated board of directors and community volunteers. These are very capable people who have demonstrated a wealth of knowledge and skills. They volunteer and they support the organization materially as well.
“One of the first challenges I see to the job is to create better signage for Lansing. With our new designation as a National Historic District, Lansing needs to have signs which announce that, as well as signs which make it easy for people to find businesses and services that they need. We’ll need to explore partnerships with the DOT (Department of Transportation) as well as other area tourism agencies to achieve the best signage we can in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
“I’m excited to share what Main Street Lansing can do for this community. We should be proud of past accomplishments but we need to look forward to what we can do in the future as well. Main Street Lansing is always looking for volunteers who can enthusiastically jump into a project. We also need monetary support, so if you don’t have the time to volunteer, maybe you will consider supporting the organization through a donation or pledge. We hope to make some dramatic improvements in the plaza area downtown so that will be a very visible project which will be taking shape in the months ahead."
White pointed to two large scale architectural drawings in the Main Street Office. He asked, “Have you seen these? These are for the Interpretive Center which is going to be built on the corner of Columbus Road and the Great River Road, just south of the Lansing downtown area. This will be a huge asset for Lansing and for the county. With the convergence of the Interpretive Center, the Mississippi River and the Scenic Byway, it is literally the ‘perfect storm’ for tourism. And tourists bring money to the area. They buy gas and groceries, they look for places to stay and eat. They shop. This will be a very energizing, positive contribution to the area.”
As the interview for this article concluded, the phone rang in the Main Street Lansing (MSL) office. White answered, “Yes, at the Red Geranium.” When asked if someone wanted to know where to buy flowers or if it was a new version of Main Street Jeopardy, White said that the caller wanted to buy helium balloons. Once again the phone rang. White said, “If it’s not any wider than an 18-wheeler.” This question was, "Will my Motorhome fit across the bridge?" Every day brings unique questions which White is ready to try and answer.
Main Street Lansing’s new Executive Director may not have every answer, but his experience and background have him well-grounded to tackle most of them. People and tourists who would like to meet White may stop by the MSL office in the Kerndt Brothers Community Center Tuesday through Saturday each week from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.