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By Echo Menges
A very special visitor came to Edina on Friday morning, October 1, 2021. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe and his team dropped in on Jared Niemeyer and his parents, Dan and Brenda, for a visit and tour of the up-and-coming Jared’s Jams storefront on the east side of the Edina Town Square.
Kehoe made the stop to highlight the Buy Missouri Program, which in turn promotes Missouri-made products and local business in rural communities.
Kehoe spent time visiting Niemeyer and his parents, discussed the products the business will offer to the public, and toured the facility, which is in the process of being remodeled. During the visit, Kehoe’s team took photos and recorded video for a commercial, which will eventually be available on the Buy Missouri website, ltgov. mo.gov/buy-mo/.
“It’s been very positively received. We recently had a town event, the Cornfest, and we were here selling out of the yard. A lot of people were asking about when we’re opening, what we’re doing, etcetera,” Jared’s father Dan Niemeyer told Kehoe.
Kehoe spent time asking Jared about the many products offered by Jared’s Jams including an assortment of jams, jellies and syrups, and Josh’s Java coffee blends, which originated under the name of Josh Niemeyer – Jared’s big brother. The Lieutenant Governor was also interested to learn about the building site renovation project and the history of the building.
“This site was once the location of a blacksmith’s shop. In the building’s 86 years it began as Motter Hatchery, it then was home to two different restaurants, a clothing store, a dry cleaners, Phillips Law Office, and Parsons & Nunan Insurance,” said Jared’s mother Brenda Niemeyer. “The remodeling project for this FDA approved kitchen and storefront required that the eleven room interior be fully demolitioned. After a complete demo, new water and drainage lines, as well as electrical and computer wiring, new roof, siding, insulation, windows and doors were installed. The concrete floors were ground and polished. The interior has been framed; with drywall and painting most recently completed.”
Kehoe was particularly taken with what’s inside the walls of Jared’s Jams. Last month, the Niemeyer’s hosted a group of friends and Jared’s Jams Facebook followers who wrote scriptures and messages of encouragement on the “bones” of the building including the studs and wall foundations underneath the recently added layer of drywall. Kehoe took notice of a few messages still showing on the stud lumber in one of the doorways taking a cell phone photo of a message left for the Niemeyer’s.
“That’s awesome. This is great you guys,” said Kehoe.
Others in attendance for the visit were Missouri State Representative Greg Sharpe (R-Dist. 4) and Edina Mayor Alex Reel.
Reel, who works as a local real estate agent, told Kehoe about the uptick in new business on the Edina Town Square and the lack of housing available in Edina.
“Jared’s Jams is one of five new businesses on the Square in the past 18-months. We have people finally wanting to come back, young families, and we don’t have houses to put them. I will close about 1.5 million dollars worth of Knox County real estate at the end of October. We can’t keep up. We are in a housing crisis. I’m working with a few business owners downtown to get apartments above the storefronts renovated so we can get people into those. We have Alan and Staci Rimer who are restoring a historic old hotel and can put some apartments in there,” Reel told Kehoe. “It’s a good problem to have, but it is a crisis.”
“I’ve been around to a lot of the town squares in the state. Every one of them is different. It’s exciting because many, many of them are coming back,” said Kehoe. “It’s happening in a lot of communities around the state.”
“With the cost of construction, I think renovating this building looks pretty attractive compared to building from scratch,” noted Missouri State Rep. Greg Sharpe.
“I think what’s incredible about these buildings are their stories,” Kehoe told the Niemeyers, adding some business advice of his own. “I think that’s part of the love affair of redoing these buildings. The romantic piece is the story. I think that’s the cool part. I would encourage you to include that (history) on your website or Facebook page when you’re open. People like that stuff.”
This was the first time the Lieutenant Governor has visited the Knox County Seat. He took several souvenirs with him, buying two full boxes of Jared’s Jams products for himself and to give to friends and colleagues.
“The big jars are for me,” said Kehoe.
The Lieutenant Governor told the Niemeyer’s he would try to come back for the shop’s grand opening later this month, or to see the business again after it opens to the public. After Kehoe took time to visit with everyone present, including this reporter, he and his team disembarked.
“It was a really, really big honor to meet him here for my business,” said Jared Niemeyer. “I was very happy.”
“It’s wonderful that the Lieutenant Governor was here to visit us and welcome us into the Buy Missouri Program. We extremely appreciate this,” said Dan Niemeyer.
According to Dan Niemeyer, Kehoe first caught wind of Jared’s Jams at an event held over the summer.
“(It was) at a Special Olympics (breakfast) event held in Jefferson City back in June. Jared’s Jams provided jams for a group of Jefferson City leaders, and Lt. Gov. Kehoe was part of that group. He became aware of Jared’s Jams through that and then asked us to be part of the Buy Missouri Program. Since then, he and his staff have been in contact with us following the building and the progress on it, so that’s what brought him up here.”
Jared’s Jams, already a Knox County staple business, has been in business for the last seven years making and selling products via the Farmers Market (May- October) and vendor booths at local events throughout the region.
Jared is well known as a Special Olympics competitor and ambassador who speaks to groups and promotes the Special Olympics locally, nationally, and globally. Jared’s first business lessons were taught to him through his participation in the Knox County 4-H Program during his youth, which Jared credits for opening his eyes to making local products and selling them.
Jared Niemeyer, 29, a Knox County native, lives in rural Edina with his parents. He is a 2011 graduate of Kirksville High School and attended school at the Knox County R-1 School District from preschool to ninth grade. Besides being a business owner, he is employed at the Hy-Vee Grocery Store in Kirksville.
Jared’s mother Brenda Niemeyer, 62, recently retired from her career as a Counselor at the Kirksville R-III School District.
Jared’s father Dan Niemeyer, 62, recently retired from his career as an Area Specialist at the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.
Jared’s brother Josh Niemeyer, 34, also a Knox County native lives in Parkville, MO, near Kansas City. He works for a cyber security consulting firm.
About the Buy Missouri Program
The Office of Lieutenant Governor has created a BUY MISSOURI economic development initiative to actively promote the products that are grown, manufactured, processed, and/or made in Missouri. Approved products and businesses will be listed on the Business Directory page of the buymissouri.net website.
The Buy Missouri program is intended to promote tourism, business, and economic developments by showcasing and promoting Missouri-made products and businesses. The more we buy Missouri, the better our state will do! The Buy Missouri Retail Partnership features retail locations around the state that sell local, Missouri-made products. This partnership is intended to make Missouri products more easily accessible as well as create awareness about the many products made right here within our borders.