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Northwest Iowa native returns to drive business growth in Osceola County

Stephanie Neppl sits at her new desk in the Osceola County Economic Development Commission office, where she assumed the director's position earlier this month. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

Update: The article was updated to reflect that Neppl would soon meet with the Osceola County Economic Development Commission board. 

SIBLEY, Iowa — The Osceola County Economic Development Commission office has a new leader.

Stephanie Neppl, a recent Sibley, Iowa transplant, officially adopted her duties as the OCEDC’s executive director one week ago following a two-week handover period with outgoing director Mike Earll. In mid-December, Earll — a former longtime Sibley-Ocheyedan School District agriculture teacher and FFA advisor — officially announced his retirement from the position he accepted five years ago on what was intended at the time to be a temporary basis.

With an extensive background in professional communications, public relations and marketing, Neppl is excited to tout what she considers the county’s assets in an attempt to drive future economic growth. Since her move to Osceola County in November, Neppl said Sibley’s golf course (with newer housing developments surrounding it), the downtown area, library, wellness center and eateries are just some of the assets that have left a positive first impression on her as a new resident — and intends to market them.

While Neppl is discovering some of the county’s physical attributes, she’s also found something that “can’t be bought,” she says.

“The (Osceola County) communities are full of really good people,” she said. “There’s good people and with that there’s always potential.”

Originally from Estherville, Iowa, the new position brings Neppl an opportunity with more responsibility in the smallest community she’s ever lived in. She’s been plenty of places throughout her career, including abroad.

After earning her master’s degree in mass communications from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Neppl found and accepted a copy editing job in Beijing, China. She also taught English in South Korea for 18 months and worked in the tourism industry in New Zealand for eight years.

“We’re so landlocked in Iowa, it was nice being next to the beach,” she said. “It was a great lifestyle, but home is home and I moved back in 2012 to the Midwest.”

Neppl suspects that her former experience will translate well to her new position in Osceola County, particularly from her most recent role as marketing and public relations manager for the Platte County Economic Development Council in Kansas City, Mo.

In that capacity, Neppl was responsible to share positive news as it related to business growth to a variety of individuals through various communication methods. In addition to her traditional communications role, Neppl also responded to requests for information, which often included demographics and statistics as it related to potential business growth projects.

She’s ready to bring that experience to not only help grow northwest Iowa, but to also lend continuous support to existing businesses through their succession planning.

Neppl said her immediate goal is to meet as many individuals — from local government entities, business owners, educators and other community leaders — in the county’s communities as possible to get a sense of the business landscape and how her office can best assist various organizations throughout the county.

She’s looking forward to meeting with the Osceola County Economic Development Commission board soon to identify future goals for her office and strategies to achieve them.

Neppl encourages anyone interested with questions or potential ideas to reach out by emailing sneppl@osceolacoia.org; calling (712) 754-2523; or stopping into her office on the ground level of the Osceola County Courthouse, 300 Seventh St., Sibley.

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