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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.


Registration Open for 2018 IGFI Workshops on Public Finance and Community and Economic Development

September 6, 2018

In September and October, ISU Extension and Outreach’s Iowa Government Finance Initiative is offering three-hour workshops for local elected, appointed officials (finance, planning, and economic development), and other stakeholders on issues relating to public finance and community and economic development.


New Guide Training and Certification for Tourism Staff and Volunteers

March 13, 2019

A statewide Guide Training workshop will be held April 11 from 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Central Iowa Expo administration building near Boone. The new program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is the first of its kind in Iowa, and is designed specifically for staff and volunteers who lead guided programs at Iowa’s community tourism attractions, including but not limited to museums, parks and conservation areas, historic sites, science centers and agritourism.


Extension CED Continues to Offer Innovative Small Business Development Methods

Small business development is one of the many services provided by the Local Economies team in the Community and Economic Development (CED) program at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. 

In 2018, CED specialists were recognized by the university, earning an ISU Extension and Outreach award for powerful partnerships for the Shop Healthy Iowa Initiative and a university-wide award for achievement in economic development for their work with Latino business owners and entrepreneurs (see volume 10, issues 1 and 2 of this newsletter for more information).

Rather than rest on their laurels, CED specialists continue to pursue innovative ways to help small businesses and entrepreneurs realize their goals.


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.


New Guide Training Workshop and Certification Program to be Held June 13

May 13, 2019

Registration is now open for a statewide Guide Training workshop to be held in Mason City at the Music Man Square on June 13 from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The new program is the first of its kind in Iowa, specifically created for staff and volunteers who lead guided programs at Iowa’s tourism attractions, including but not limited to museums, nature and conservation areas, agritourism, and historic sites. The one-day workshop features interactive methods and techniques for creating and delivering dynamic guided programs, with a focus on guiding adult visitors.

Read more.


Iowa Retail Initiative piloting ‘rebooted’ program in two communities

According to the Iowa Small Business Development Center, there are 266,382 small businesses employing 641,288 people in Iowa, and nearly 50% of all workers in the state are employed by a small business. Of those small businesses, only one-tenth are retail; however, retail has an outsized impact on community character and quality of life.

Communities understand that supporting local retail is key to becoming and remaining economically viable. However, most local small retail business owners are so busy with the day-to-day details of running a business, they don’t have the time to equip and empower themselves and their employees with key foundational skills and tools. Without this knowledge, businesses stagnate and local economies suffer and decline.

Enter the Iowa Retail Initiative (IRI).