Community and Economic Development teams share their top five 2022 highlights

As 2022 comes to a close, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development’s five knowledge teams have compiled their “top five” accomplishments this year.

CED specialist Mary Weinand leads a planning session with members of the Wayland Child Care Organization.

Civic Engagement and Equity Team

1. New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Programming

CED’s DEI program menu expanded in 2022 with the addition of the Intercultural Developmental Inventory®. This year, 83 leaders from four organizations participated in this research-based, intercultural competence program. In addition, team members became certified to conduct the national extension program, Coming Together for Racial Understanding (CTRU), which will be offered in 2023.

2. Navigating Difference© Cultural Competence Training

In 2022, 78 people completed Navigating Difference©. This educational program helps participants understand the five cultural competencies to communicate more effectively with diverse cultures, including people of a different age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, gender, etc.

3. Leading Communities reboot

Team members made notable updates to CED’s place-based leadership program, Leading Communities. Leading Communities is designed to promote community engagement and increase capacity among community members for addressing common issues and problems.

4. Marketing Hometown America

In 2022, 37 ISU Extension and Outreach staff and partners representing 36 counties became certified in Marketing Hometown America. This national extension program equips rural communities with the tools to retain high quality of life and market the value of rural places for new residents and businesses.

5. Goal Setting, Strategic Planning, and Facilitation

The team employed CED’s facilitation services—which include strategic planning, vision and mission workshops, action planning, and focus groups—to guide organizations through many projects. Clients in 2022 included Alliant Energy, Wayland Child Care Organization, National 4-H, St. Luke Lutheran Home Skilled Nursing Home in Spencer, and more.

Community and Business Development Team

1. Professional Guide Training and Certification Program

CED’s Professional Guide Training and Certification program is the first in the nation to provide training plus individual coaching sessions at work sites, incorporating applied learning directly into the workplace. More than 250 individuals have completed guide training/certification.

2. Grocery Store Toolkit

Team members made much progress on CED’s Grocery Store Toolkit, which is expected to launch during winter 2023. The toolkit—which CED is creating in collaboration with the Small Business Development Center, ISU Extension and Outreach, and other agencies—will be a guide on pertinent steps necessary to start a Latinx grocery store.

3. Unlocking the Secrets of Social Media

The Iowa Retail Initiative (IRI) released Unlocking the Secrets of Social Media for Retailers. This program was developed for Extension and Outreach county offices to provide direct outreach to local retailers, chambers of commerce, economic developers, or other business champions, helping them think creatively about engaging and growing their customer base through social media. Those interested in this resource can contact their local county office for more details.

4. Arts Engagement

Community engagement through the arts continued to thrive in 2022. For instance, in Elma, the Public Library worked with the community to install a new Little Lending Library in a public park. In addition, Jennifer Drinkwater, associate professor and arts engagement specialist, is creating a new “pop-up” toolkit for creating fun,  temporary experiences in communities.

5. Scaling Up Specialty Crop Processing Toolkit

As part of a transdisciplinary team from ISU and colleagues from Iowa Valley RC&D, CED helped develop the Scaling Up Specialty Crop Processing Toolkit, which provides an overview of criteria including food safety, business development, and logistics. The toolkit is available as free download in three languages—English, Spanish, and Swahili—on the ISU Extension Store.

Local Government and Housing

1. Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA)

People from more than 60 Iowa communities attended the first annual RHRA workshop held in April 2022 in conjunction with the Iowa Rural Development (IRD) Summit. Along with the Iowa Economic Develop Authority (IEDA), a panel of representatives from RHRA communities shared how their plans have been developed and implemented since completing the program, and CED specialists provided information on a variety of rural housing issues.

2. Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy (MPI/MPA)

July 2022 marked the 47th annual Iowa MPI/MPA, which provides training and instruction on which Iowa municipal professionals rely for successful operation of their cities. MPI/MPA staff continued to employ best practices to keep attendees engaged, including 44 courses, multiple concurrent live classes, hundreds of class documents, and embedded communication platforms.

3. Iowa Government Finance Initiative (IGFI)

IGFI keeps Iowans informed with data-driven reports that allow cities and counties to track financial indicators over a five-year period. In 2022, 110 city and 47 county reports were downloaded, providing descriptions of current state-level legislation that impacts local government finance, demographic changes, and changes in revenues and spending.

4. Grant Writing 201

In 2022, CED launched Grant Writing 201 for experienced grant writers as a follow-up to Grant Writing101, CED’s workshop for beginners. Grant Writing 201 participants are asked to bring grant application materials to work on during the workshop. Those interested in Grant Writing 201 can contact their county extension office.

Lisa Switkin,senior principal at James Corner Field Operations in New York, studies a drawing during the MICD in Des Moines. Photo by Jake Sternquist.

5. Mayor’s Institute on City Design (MICD)

The ISU College of Design, ISU Extension and Outreach, hosted a session of the MICD July 27–29 in Des Moines, where mayors presented projects from their communities and received feedback from other mayors and a resource team of design and development professionals. The interchanges sparked debate, generated new ideas, and inspired creative thinking.



Data and Technology Team

1. Retail Trade Reports

Retail Trade Analysis reports published by the Iowa Community Indicators Program are being updated and converted for online use. These new publications will be ready in 2023.

2. Interactive data features

Using the online data-analysis platform Tableau, the team will release new state, county, and city data throughout 2023. New features will allow users to interact with the data, select overlays, and view trend data. The team will also be updating the publication pages and categorizing and tagging reports so they can be searched.

3. American Community Survey (ACS) data release

The Census Bureau released the most current ACS data on December 8, and the Data for Decision Makers (DDM) series is being updated to incorporate these new data.

4. GIS Task Sheets

Several new task sheets covering topics such as ArcGIS Pro, R, and QGIS have been published to the Extension Store, with more to be added in 2023. All new task sheets are published as accessible documents and many other previously published PDFs have been remediated to accommodate screen reader technology.

5. Data Science for Public Good (DSPG) Young Scholars Program

Nine undergraduate and three graduate students completed six data-analysis projects as part of the 2022 DSPG Young Scholars program. The program is currently inviting ISU faculty, state and county agencies, nonprofits, and communities to submit applications for the 2023 summer program. Those interested in the 2023 program can apply online on the DSPG Young Scholars website (https://

Community Food Systems Team

1. Equity Discussions

To improve members’ understanding of racial equity, the team read and discussed books on the topic, such as The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee and The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism by Kyla Schuller.

2. Team Building

This year the team incorporated bi-weekly meetings with rotating facilitators to enhancing connections and fostering better understanding each other’s work.

Attendees browse vendor tables during the outdoor Local Food Festival on ISU's central campus.

3. Local Food Festival

The team and other partners have conducted Local Food Festival annually at ISU since 2015, and 2022 marked the post-pandemic return of the event. Approximately 100 participants sampled a variety of local products, such as honey, baked goods, ice cream, and fresh produce, from approximately 24 vendors.

4. Farm to School and Early Care Education (F2SECE) Conference

The F2SECE team helps convene this annual conference and hosted it virtually in 2022. More than 150 people registered for the conference in 2022 and more than 300 have visited the website to view at least one session.

5. Community Food Systems Annual Event

The Community Food Systems Event returned to an in-person format in 2022, with 74 attendees and 30 presenters. The event featured plenaries on the Farm to Table Task Force and importance of local foods in Iowa and an update on resilient food systems.