DENVER — Longtime Denver resident Art Kurtt has seen his hometown grow from about 500 people to 1,800 during his lifetime.

How the rural Iowa city has grown is simple, according to Kurtt.

“Accept change,” Kurtt said, summing up the mantra his community has adopted to find success in both business and in its people.

Kurtt was one of two dozen people to stop by Denver’s The Dinner Bell restaurant to meet with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday morning to talk about what’s working and what’s not with small business.

What Reynolds discovered is a city that’s thriving thanks to its emphasis on community.

“This is amazing, amazing, what a community of this size is doing,” Reynolds said after the event. “What a phenomenal example for other small communities to really emulate.”

She said the small business tour she’s taking this week gives her a chance to hear from business owners and share stories of success — like those she heard in Denver.

It was one of several stops in the area this week to promote and hear from small businesses.

Aside from her meeting with the Denver Diplomats community group, Reynolds visited Sweet Freedom Bakery in New Hampton on Tuesday afternoon and will hold a roundtable at West Union this morning.

“You know what’s really struck me, not once has anybody asked, ‘What’s the state going to do for me?’ We do have a role to play. ... Probably one of our biggest roles is to get the heck out of the way,” Reynolds, a Republican, said toward the end of the event.

She continued her praise, “It’s such a can-do attitude. It’s everybody coming together, figuring out what you can do first.”

Denver Mayor Rod Diercks told Reynolds Denver’s attitude has always been one of finding a way to take care of its people first.

Like Kurtt, Denver Diplomats President Ed Blumenshine stressed throughout the hourlong event the city had put an emphasis on making sure all three legs of its stool — business, city government and people — come together to improve the city.

He said one of the best examples of the community coming together is its Cyclone City playground. Supporters sought to raise $160,000, but more than $200,000 came in. They erected the park in about five days.

“The common word that keeps coming up is community,” Blumenshine said. “You have to create this community, create the involvement. You have to create the interaction, and it’s schools, it’s churches, it’s organizations, it’s businesses, it’s the city, it’s everything. And we all have to pull together instead of fighting against each other.”

That effort includes a business and community expo that, like Reynolds’ visit, coincides with National Small Business Week. The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Denver Community Center. It is free and open to the public.

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