Renowned stained-glass business to stay in Iowa

Three states tried to lure away Mark and Jeanne Bogenrief’s renowned stained-glass business, but the couple said Friday their northwest Iowa roots run too deep to leave.

Homestate loyalty, paired with an aggressive effort by state and local officials, was enough to keep Bogenrief Studios in Iowa and dash the hopes of Kentucky, South Dakota and Tennessee.Lt.Gov. Sally Pederson and other state officials announced Friday that Bogenrief Studios would receive a commission to provide artwork for the new Iowa Hall of Pride in Des Moines. That commission could add up to $1 million.

“We’ve met so many great people in this process,’’ Jeanne Bogenrief said at a press conference in Des Moines to announce the couple’s decision. “We’re looking forward to a great future.”

That future involves moving Bogenrief Studios and production facilities from Merrill in Plymouth County to downtown Cherokee and to a former school in nearby Sutherland. The Bogenriefs currently employ 20 people, but expansion plans, the couple said, could push their workforce to 100 employees.

“Art and culture is for everyone and belongs everywhere, including rural communities such as Sutherland and Cherokee,’’ said Karen Mitchell, executive director of the O’Brien County Economic Development Corporation.

Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, said officials in Paducah, Ky., offered the Bogenriefs homes and buildings while South Dakota officials offered a $1 million commission.

"If you would have asked us 30 days ago, we were on our way to Paducah,’’ Mark Bogenrief said. The couple visited Kentucky five times. “I didn’t have the feeling we have here in Iowa.”

“Great people, great friends, our family is close, our roots run deep,” Jeanne Bogenrief said.

They produce stained-glass works that have been compared to Tiffany glass and sell for tens of thousands of dollars. The studio sells its pieces to customers across the country. Mark Bogenrief said he has plans for expanding the business to include pottery, silversmithing and woodworking.

He said they have just began sketches for works that will grace the Hall of Pride — a facility within the new Iowa Events Center intended to showcase Iowans’ achievements. Hall of Pride organizers have pledged $100,000 toward the commission with hopes of sparking a $1 million fund-raising drive.

“By expanding opportunity for arts and culture, we make a state that’s more attractive to all businesses,” Pederson said.

Mark Buschkamp, executive director of Cherokee Area Economic Development, said Bogenrief Studios’ move to the community is huge boost for efforts to crate a cultural and entertainment district downtown. “This will be the crowning jewel in the renaissance of our community,” he said.

600450 Renowned stained-glass business to stay in Iowa
Date: 26 April 2004

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