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Pella, Iowa, Is a Great Place To Live, Work, Learn and Play

There's more to this charming Dutch-influenced city than windmills and tulips.

By Livability on March 28, 2023

Pella, Iowa
Courtesy of PACE Alliance

The first thing people notice about Pella, Iowa, is its charming Dutch influence. Here you’ll find the tallest working grain windmill in the country, the intriguing Molengracht Canal and Klokkenspel bell tower, a European-inspired boutique hotel, and a popular tulip festival that draws 200,000 each year. Highly rated by USA Today, Architectural Digest and TripstoDiscover.com, Pella is also home to authentic bakeries and delis, the Best Beer Bar in Iowa and eclectic eateries with a small-town feel.

What visitors might not see is that behind the scenes, local leaders, companies and residents are working to make Pella a great place to live, work, learn and play.

“We are more than just windmills and tulips,” says Elizabeth Sporrer, senior manager of talent acquisition and corporate communications for Vermeer Corp., one of the state’s largest employers. “We love Pella. Pella is where we started. Pella is where we continue to operate.”

Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa
Courtesy of Vermeer Corp.

International But Close to Home

A global manufacturer of industrial and agricultural equipment with a down-to-earth Midwestern approach, Vermeer is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023. Started in 1948 by farmer Gary Vermeer, the third-generation company is still family-owned and -operated; more than 4,000 team members build more than 160 finished products at the mile-long Pella campus across the street from the site of the founder’s original home. In 2022 Forbes magazine named Vermeer one of America’s Best Mid-Sized Employers.

“We have team members that are willing to drive hours to come to us,” Sporrer notes. “We really believe that people matter most. Taking care of our people is really, really important to us.”

Vermeer does this in various ways, from maintaining an on-site early-learning child care facility, clinic and pharmacy to offering challenging work with a broad reach. “The equipment that they’re building is making really big impacts around the world,” Sporrer adds.

Not only does Pella “look like a postcard,” Sporrer says, “it’s beautiful in the way that people here are so passionate about the community. They volunteer countless hours to create opportunities for tourism, to help each other learn and keep our community growing.”

Prospective team members are often impressed with the city’s diverse housing, schools, arts programs and outdoor attractions like Lake Red Rock, the state’s largest lake, along with Wonder Spelen, a new inclusive playground for children with disabilities in Kiwanis Park.

Even the police force draws kudos. “They do a phenomenal job in the relationship they have with the people,” Sporrer says. “The culture they promote is one of trust and love and safety.”

Pella Regional Health Center in Pella, Iowa
Courtesy of PACE Alliance

Pella Leads the Way in Health Care

When Pella Community Hospital opened its doors in 1960 as a small acute care facility serving the city of Pella, it employed 17 people and seven doctors. Today, it employs 850. And its updated name — Pella Regional Health Center — reflects a much larger service area that extends into Ottumwa, Knoxville and Prairie City with outpatient services, fully staffed medical clinics and on-site physicians.

“We’ve become really focused on providing great diagnostic care, emergency care, advanced surgical procedures and obstetrics, too,” says CEO Bob Kroese. “We deliver nearly 600 babies a year, which is tremendous for a community of this size.”

One thing hasn’t changed, though.

“What makes us more and more unique is that we are an independent regional hospital that chooses to be independent, partially because we have a mission that most of us as employees see as a ministry or a calling,” Kroese says. “That’s something that, as a culture, many of us align with very well.”

That uniqueness has not gone unnoticed. For the second year in a row, a 2022 study sponsored by the National Rural Health Care Association ranked Pella Regional Health Center one of the nation’s top 20 critical access hospitals. The facility also offers internships for medical and nursing graduates who want to gain experience while deciding on a specialty.

“Once we get them here, they see the town and if they’re family-oriented people, they’re very impressed with what they see,” Kroese says.

Those who interview at Pella Regional Health Center are often amazed by the city’s picturesque beauty, wealth of community events and stunning architecture. Physicians and other professionals also take note of the impressive public and private schools, accredited four-year Central College and broad selection of places of worship.

But it is the city’s deep-rooted character that seals the deal, Kroese says. “We pride ourselves in our Dutch heritage. And part of that heritage is a really clean, safe community. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family.”

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