Andy Kelleher recognized as a Rising Star by the Iowa Travel Partners Industry

ITIP Rising Star ... Andy Kelleher, Executive Director of Main Street Lansing, is pictured above with the Iowa Travel Industry Partners Rising Star Award he received at the Iowa Travel Industry Partners Annual Meeting Monday, June 12. Kelleher was the recipient of the inaugural award in the Small Market category for his demonstrated leadership, commitment and passion for the Iowa travel industry. Submitted photo.

Iowa Travel Industry Partners (iTIP), a statewide association of the tourism and hospitality industry, presented the inaugural iTIP Awards during the iTIP Annual Meeting Monday, June 12 in Cedar Falls. Andy Kelleher, Executive Director of Main Street Lansing, was the recipient of the small market iTIP Rising Star Award. This is an award recognizing someone new to the Iowa tourism industry within the past five years who has demonstrated leadership, commitment and passion for the Iowa travel industry.

Kelleher has stood on the forefront of tourism initiatives in Allamakee County. He secured a Soul of Iowa 2.0 selection for Lansing, which is a statewide tourism promotion initiative that will help advertise northeast Iowa to visitors across the country. He supported RAGBRAI XLIX, which was sponsored by his employer, Main Street Lansing. He created and installed scenic byway maps in downtown Lansing to encourage visitors to explore more of the Driftless Area.

Kelleher has served on the Allamakee County Economic Development and Tourism Board of Directors for almost five years, with three of those years as Vice President and one year as President. He represents the county across the region to make sure its unique tourism opportunities are not lost in the shuffle, including serving as Allamakee County’s representative to the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association from 2019 to its dissolution in 2022.

Kelleher was instrumental in the creation of the Allamakee County Façade Improvement Grant Program. He lobbied Allamakee County to create a facade (exterior public-facing side) improvement program for commercial buildings located anywhere within Allamakee County. He built support across the county, and he convinced the County to use its hotel/motel tax revenue to fund the program.

The historic buildings in Allamakee County are a major tourism draw, so improving those properties will lead to more visitor traffic. Additionally, Allamakee County is a gateway to Iowa, and improving the first appearance people see creates more enthusiasm for exploring the rest of the state. The grant program received an initial allocation of $50,000, with 13 of those projects being awarded since its launch in November 2022.

The numbers prove Kelleher’s impact on Lansing, Allamakee County, and Iowa. The facade improvement program will triple its investment, with total project budgets coming in around $150,000, compared to the County investment of $50,000. Kelleher has increased Lansing’s social media following by 50%. His annual holiday promotions with Main Street Lansing have seen business sales increases of 15-20% annually. He has also overseen more than $4 million of investment in downtown Lansing as new entrepreneurs seek to tap into this growth and tourism enthusiasm.

“The work that Andy has been able to accomplish in his short time in Lansing has been remarkable,” said Chelsea Lerud, iTIP Executive Director.

The iTIP Awards are open to all individuals, private businesses, for-profit and non-profit organizations offering a tourism and/or hospitality service in Iowa. Nominations occurred throughout the spring with the iTIP Foundation Board of Trustees scoring the applications. All recipients were nominated by their peers. Details of the annual meeting and awards program can be found at