Iowa Retail Initiative

Visualize a Robust Retail District in Your Community

Participate in Iowa Retail Initiative (IRI) and grow support for small business

logo for Iowa Retail Initiative

Small businesses are essential to a rural community’s quality of life, and they need community leaders and decision-makers working with them to generate a healthy retail environment. Iowa State University invites communities to take part in the Iowa Retail Initiative and build the support network that local retail needs to thrive. Iowa Retail Initiative, a part of ISU Extension and Outreach, is a three-part program designed to strengthen independent retail in Iowa communities. Community and Economic Development Extension specialists provide the training and coaching.


IRI Champions (Part One)

Part one of the IRI training, IRI Champions produces a foundation of support for your retail district.  Main Street shoppers

Starts where communities are now and offers training, tools and resources to help strengthen your retail base. Covers topics from niche marketing and social media to special funding and amenities.

Participants will learn to:

  • Assess existing and future retail needs
  • Evaluate retail district amenities
  • Maximize community social media
  • Identify retail niches

Who should attend a Champions session and what is involved in the training?

Learn more about IRI Champions here.

We've assembled some of our favorite resources for Retail Champions here.  Enjoy!

IRI Coaching (Next step)

Victor Oyervides helps two women with business planning

In this next step of the IRI training, IRI Coaching produces empowered retail owners.

IRI Coaching provides selected businesses with one-on-one technical assistance and training to tackle the obstacles preventing business growth. 

IRI Coaching caters to specific needs of the business.  You can choose coaching related to:

  • Business enterprise
  • Customer service  
  • Store design


Who should sign up for an IRI Coaching Session and what is involved?  

Learn more about IRI Coaching here.

We've assembled some of our favorite design and coaching resources here.  Enjoy!

IRI Snapshot (Next step)people using the snapshot process

In this next step of the IRI training, IRI Snapshot produces informed decision-makers.  

IRI Snapshot trains local leaders to use an inventory collection app to collect and analyze place-based information about their retail districts.  Participants learn to create layers of information, using a smartphone app to gain a block-by-block understanding of the local, current retail environment.

The training includes exercises in:

  • Mapping retail districts
  • Taking inventory of existing retail conditions
  • Applying collected data to informed decision-making

Who should be a part of IRI Snapshot training and what is involved?  

Learn more about IRI Snapshot here.  

Video of Program Details

Lisa Bates photo


For more information, contact Lisa Bates:


Download the IRI Brochure here