Great Iowa Road Trip planned to revive small businesses and local economies

February 19, 2021

This spring, the public is invited to participate in the Great Iowa Road Trip, a weekend event planned to help revive Iowa’s small businesses and small towns. This special event, scheduled for April 30 and May 1, will be a coordinated mapped tour of open doors at businesses and attractions in southern Iowa.


Leading Communities 2.0 to launch in spring 2021

February 10, 2021

Dynamic. That’s a word we use to describe the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program Leading Communities. We describe the program as dynamic because we want to always be able to adapt the program to the current and emerging community leadership and engagement needs of our Iowa counties. A research-based community engagement program, Leading Communities was developed and is provided to Iowa communities by community development specialists in Community and Economic Development.


Adapting Planning and Zoning workshops to a remote world

February 10, 2021

When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, ensuring that local officials had the knowledge to properly implement land use law seemed the furthest thing from a priority, even to specialists in the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) program. There was too much uncertainty. Fortunately, that didn’t last long. Although the way CED was doing business had to change, continued development and good land use planning remained priorities.


Community Visioning Program building on 2020 virtual engagement techniques in 2021

February 10, 2021

As with many Community and Economic Development (CED) programs in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program was profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown.

When ISU suspended work-related travel, the program was forced to cancel in-person activities. Read how the program adapted to virtual engagement in 2020 and how that is affecting the 2021 program.


Municipal Professionals Institute move to a 'blended' online and in-person format

February 10, 2021

For 44 years, the Office of State and Local Government Programs in the Community and Economic Development (CED) Program at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has offered the Municipal Professionals Institute (MPI) in some form as an in-person training held in Ames every year.

Read how 2020 changed all that and what 2021 looks like.


Excess supply and depressed housing values in rural counties may affect housing development

November 23, 2020

New housing development is occurring in Iowa, but its distribution is not even across the state. In 2018, just five of Iowa’s 99 counties accounted for more than 65% of the total new housing permits issued statewide.

For places experiencing little new development, an aging and deteriorating housing stock is an urgent concern for local policymakers. While new development is not a cure-all solution to rural housing problems, increasing housing options in rural areas can help attract new employers and stabilize local budgets.


Locally run home repair and rehab programs offer options for addressing housing needs

November 23, 2020

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED), in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Empower Rural Iowa initiative, has been helping rural communities form local housing policy and create housing action plans through the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) program. To date, CED specialists have worked with seven communities, with five more set to begin the program this winter.


Towns selected for 2021 Community Visioning Program

November 12, 2020

AMES, Iowa – Ten Iowa communities have been selected to participate in the Iowa's Living Roadways Community Visioning Program in 2021.

The 2021 visioning communities are Alleman, Calamus, Conrad, Emmetsburg, Malvern, Princeton, Shenandoah, Tama, Toledo, and Wheatland. Three of the communities had participated in the program previously: Emmetsburg (2000-01), Princeton (1996-97) Toledo (1998-99). The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation in partnership with Iowa State University Landscape Architecture Extension and Trees Forever, an Iowa-based nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.


Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems Certifications offered virtually

September 21, 2020

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community Food Systems program staff worked hard this summer to transition the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings and certifications to a virtual format.

Early September marked the launch of virtual Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems Certifications. Both certifications were sold out with cohorts of 16 for Local Food Leader and 21 for Community Food Systems. Each course incorporates a dual-format curriculum with virtual workshops through Zoom and an online course within Moodle.


Ida Grove pilots Rural Housing Readiness Assessment program

September 21, 2020

Your house is now everything – your home, your office, your kids’ school. Turns out, if you spend months on end in your house, the importance of quality, affordable, and safe housing that meets your lifestyle needs is top of mind.

Add in all the news about housing: looming foreclosures and evictions, houses lost to derechos, historically low mortgage interest rates, and suddenly housing is something that matters more than ever. However, with everything going on, who has time to focus on community housing needs? Well, if you are socially distancing and Zooming all day anyway, it’s a perfect time to evaluate and plan for a different future.

At least that’s how it turned out for Ida Grove. Way back in the olden days before COVID-19, Ida Grove agreed to pilot the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment program being offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community Economic Development (CED) in cooperation with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund.


Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy goes virtual

September 17, 2020

For two weeks every July for more than four decades, up to 300 municipal professionals from around the state of Iowa have descended on Ames to receive training focusing on real-world instruction that assists municipal clerks, finance officers, and administrators in doing their job. The Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy (MPI/MPA) are offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Office of State and Local Government Programs and the Iowa League of Cities.

The year-long planning process for the 2020 MPI/MPA was already well underway when COVID-19 started spreading through the United States in March. It didn’t take long to realize that bringing 300 people together in person for the annual training was not feasible for July 2020.


Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning accepting applications for the 2021 program year

September 9, 2020

The Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program is currently accepting applications for the 2021 program. Eligible communities are those with populations of fewer than 10,000 residents, existing transportation-related issues, and a committee of volunteers willing to dedicate their time and talent to the visioning process. Only communities located within one mile of a state or federal highway will be selected.


Community Visioning Program practices virtual and socially-distanced community engagement

August 24, 2020

Is public participation possible during a pandemic?

That was the question facing Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning program staff in mid-March, when Iowa State University canceled all in-state travel for employees.

Julia Badenhope, ISU professor and visioning program director, decided to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to explore innovative ways to engage the public without compromising the safety of staff, students, and community members.


Extension CED Offers Virtual Mission-statement Workshops for Nonprofits

August 19, 2020

Many nonprofit boards are feeling the effects of how COVID-19 is changing things for them operationally to fulfill their mission and are making plans to engage in strategic planning. That’s a good thing. However, the pandemic has hindered board members’ ability to meet in person. That’s a bad thing.

Since the pandemic started, the Community and Economic Development CED program in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach had been quite proactive in developing and delivering virtual programming, and mission-statement workshops are no exception.


Strategic Goal Setting—Even Done Virtually—Is More Important Than Ever

August 18, 2020

An important driver of success in communities is the ability of leaders to act strategically. Especially in city government, it can be easy for the day-to-day work of running a city to dominate the council’s time. Some councils go years without ever really sitting down and thinking broadly together about common priorities. This can lead feeling like the city is jumping from issue to issue without making meaningful progress on the things that are most important to the community.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) can help.


Productive virtual meetings are possible!

July 27, 2020

Effective leaders know that well-thought-out decisions require the input of many voices and perspectives. Engaging your community in important discussions can be challenging even when we are in the same room together. Now that we are meeting virtually, it may seem impossible for local governments, nonprofits, businesses and community members to work together to innovate, collaborate and create positive change.


ISU Extension and Outreach CED offers virtual goal-setting workshops

July 2, 2020

Goal setting is the latest Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development programming effort to go virtual. The first workshop is titled COVID-19 Transition and Recovery and is being conducted in two sessions. The first session took place on Tuesday, June 30, and the second will be held on Tuesday, July 7.


Grant Writing 101 Successfully Transitions to Virtual Format

June 19, 2020

Grant Writing 101 is one of several programs from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) to be offered virtually. In the age of social distancing, CED specialists continue to adapt to the changing needs of Iowans.

Grant Writing 101 is a three-hour workshop that provides hands-on training in seeking and writing successful grant applications for representatives of nonprofits, local government, schools, and other organizations.


Fundraising in a time of economic shortage

June 17, 2020

Nonprofit organizations, suddenly paralyzed by a new reality thrust upon them by COVID-19, are now asking the question: Can we fundraise? The short answer is yes and the longer answer is how.

You may have noticed how abruptly advertisements for products and services by the for-profit sector evaporated as the pandemic inflicted staggering pain and suffering on people and communities. Businesses and industries paused advertising even though they had at their disposal departments fully staffed with seasoned professionals. They too a breath to recalibrate for these times. Now you are witnessing the emergence of advertising for consumerism but with a much different tone and language.

Fundraising is critical for the survival of nonprofits and the mission work of many of them is now more important than ever as we attempt to move people through this life-threatening crisis and into recovery. Form a COVID-19 task force to make a comprehensive plan to transform your traditional fundraising campaign style.


Housing Planning Takes On A Virtual Twist

June 16, 2020

Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor pandemic can stop community leaders from envisioning a better future for their communities – even if they have to do it virtually.

Community leaders in Ida Grove are learning about their community’s need for housing while also learning new uses for platforms such as Adobe Connect, Mural virtual strategic planning software, Google Docs, Qualtrics surveys and, of course, Zoom.

Ida Grove is the inaugural community for the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) program that Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community Economic Development is providing through grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and their Empower Rural Iowa division.



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