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Shelley Oltmans

Shelley Oltmans is a field specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach CED, in this position she serves as the executive director of the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce.

Marketing Hometown American program uses civility to attract new businesses and population to small communities

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.


Extension CED gains real estate expertise with new faculty member

December 11, 2018

Real estate development matters to communities, whether it’s residential, providing homes for community members; or commercial, creating jobs and boosting the local economy

To address this important facet of community development, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development (CED) program has added a new member to its team. In August 2018, Daniel Kuhlmann joined ISU’s Department of Community and Regional Planning as an assistant professor with responsibilities in the CED program and with the ISU Ivy College of Business.


Marketing Hometown America Study Circles Spark Community Conversations, Action Plans for New Resident Attraction

Six communities are starting the Marketing Hometown America program this winter to discuss what makes their community special, why those unique assets might be attractive to new residents, and how to let potential residents know their towns are vibrant places to live.

Marketing Hometown America is a research-based extension program offered in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. The purpose of the program is to help communities address rural depopulation and the resulting loss of economic vitality caused by years of demographic change.


Why Local Leaders Should Support Immigrant-owned Businesses

June 7, 2017

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.


Leading Communities to Make Virtual Debut in Appanoose and Henry Counties

May 8, 2020

Appanoose and Henry Counties will be the first communities in Iowa to experience the virtual delivery of Leading Communities, the Place-Based Community Leadership Program offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED). In response to COVID-19’s requirement for physical distancing without losing social contact, CED specialists and faculty continue to adapt to the changing needs of Iowa communities.


DSPG Young Scholars Use Data to Solve Local Community Problems

Iowa State University Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) Young Scholars Program ( is in full swing as nine student interns and three graduate fellows learn to apply data science skills to solve local community problems through the identification and discovery of datasets that can be used to better analyze, visualize, and understand the problem and their potential solutions.