Immigrant-owned businesses are becoming more and more prevalent in Iowa. Driving through communities such as Perry, Ottumwa, Storm Lake, and Marshalltown, the impact of immigrant-owned businesses in the central business district is evident. These businesses play a vital role in Iowa’s economy, contributing significantly to our local tax base. Storefronts that would otherwise be empty--due to the general decline in rural retail caused by pull factors such as e-commerce and big box stores--are instead filled with ethnic grocery stores and restaurants, vaquero Western Wear shops, and Quinceañera gowns and party supplies.
Businesses close. People move away. It happens everywhere. In rural places these losses seem more devastating, are more lamented, and can feel like a harbinger of future doom.
Facing these losses, small communities throughout the upper Midwest are trying a happier approach to retaining their quality of life and marketing the value of rural places. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development (CED) unit is now able to offer the Marketing Hometown America program that has been successfully used by Cooperative Extension programs in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota to help communities home in on what people are looking for when they choose a place to live and do business.
How to attract more travel groups to my business or community? Community workshops and private business trainings are available.