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Through collaborative leadership we supplied a pipeline of $812 million in new capital investment projects to strengthen and diversify the assets in Iowa. But beyond big number private-sector prospects we also work with the progressive small businesses, nonprofits, civic leaders, workforce, education institutions, utilities, transportation, housing, etc to maximize productivity and long-term prosperity in our evolving economic landscape.

Best of Tama County curbside appeal: Who was behind standout improvements launched over the past 3 years?

Without exception, each of Tama County’s towns invested in curbside appeal over the past 3 years. City Councils, nonprofits, businesses, residents and others were all examples of the catalysts that transformed the face of our towns. At the August Commission Roundtable we discussed the resources and skills that made these developments possible, as well as how further partnerships can build on these successes.

A special thank you to our expert guests Dave Ruopp from the Tama County Sheriff’s Department, and Lorna Perkins, a local freelance artist with experience in mural, historic rehab, and cultural community development for helping us take the conversation to the next level as we explored possible futures.

A snapshot of Tama County’s curbside appeal successes includes:

  • Chelsea: to safely zone flood prone tracts along the Iowa River, City Council created functional smart green spaces for recreational use with inviting signage. Council also initiated nonprofit retail outlets in vacant buildings with potential.
  • Clutier: Nonprofit is gradually transforming the face of Mainstreet by investing donated labor and grant funded investment into rehabilitation of a historic property. A fresh entrance sign was also erected. City Council completed a road widening project on Mainstreet.
  • Elberon: Private business investment transformed Mainstreet with rehabilitation of an historic property, celebrating it with authentic standout character. Elberon demonstrated top in taxable sales growth in Tama County FY 2009 growing 10% in spite of the recession.
  • Dysart: Public-Private partnerships made a $1M streetscape improvement project possible. Nonprofit incentives contributed to further investment into storefronts and signage, as well as pride in residential properties with a Yard of the Month competition. There is not a single empty storefront on Mainstreet.
  • Garwin: Nonprofit and private residents transformed downtown park by constructing a community center and concession stand. Summer concert series in conjunction with the Farmers Market, as well as beautifying flower pots and banners makes this gathering space come alive.
  • Gladbrook: An especially strong partnership between City Council and School District helped facilitate the erection of a digital roadside sign. Other successful collaborative investments include a new community and recreation facility, after that a health and fitness facility, and most recently a new education facility. City Council and forprofit development group are also playing an active role in responsible demolition of brownfield sites, and residential rehabs.
  • Lincoln: City Council is providing strong leadership on keeping a clean town free of clutter and junk. Private business rebuilt after a fire, and patriotic flags serves with decorative and kinetic energy.
  • Montour: winner of the Best Bloomin’ Town of 2008. Nonprofit and area residents contributed to a playground development. City Council is currently initiating a revitalization zone, neighborhood watch program and historic preservation of properties on the scenic byway.
  • Tama-Toledo: Nonprofit leadership launched a multi-year fund-raising project for entrance signs on the new four-lane bypass. Local artists are contributing to the conceptual design. Additional investment to capitalize on the expected increase in traffic flow through the area includes 1) logo signage investment from commercial establishments to stimulate impulse buys, and 2) way-finding and commercial road signs to increase awareness of commercial, industrial, and recreational assets to be considered for future spending planning as a part of the Des Moines-Tama County-Cedar Rapids corridor.
  • Traer: Nonprofit leadership are in the process of erecting city entrance signs, and another nonprofit erected an authentic and unique Industrial Park information sign. City Council in partnership with nonprofit and resident with Guinness Book of World Record asset came together to create a downtown destination attraction.
  • Vining: Private resident created public art celebrating historic significance to the area. City is also working on street signs project.
  • County: 34 Tama County Great Place roadside signs have been acquired and should be up within the next few months. Over the next few years Tama County will also be working on designing and unveiling a moving promotional billboard in partnership with the Iowa Alcohol and Beverage Division.

Tue. Sept 28, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
Elberon Community Center
Main Street
Elberon, Iowa
Please RSVP to joanne@tamacountyiowa.org or (641) 484-3108 if you would like to join us for an $8 meal at 6 p.m.

The next meeting will be a leadership development meeting/workshop with an economic development focus.  All local government leaders, nonprofit leaders, business leaders, emerging leaders and residents with ideas for shaping Tama County’s future are very welcome to be a part of this experience. No cost.
Tue. Sept 28, Oct 26, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
501 Main Street
Clutier, Iowa
Please RSVP to joanne@tamacountyiowa.org or (641) 484-3108 if you have an interest in joining us for an $8 meal at 6 p.m. and/or to let us know how many workshop materials to have on hand.

Photo (clockwise): Don Lyons (Past Chair), Kendall Jordan, Keith Sash (2nd Vice Chair), Mandy Gehring, Lorna Perkins, Ellen Young, Danielle Plogmann, Marty Hardon (Vice Chair), Carl Zoffka, Midge Horton (Chair), Merle Parks, Dale Stout, Dwayne Luze.
Out of view: Dave Ruopp (Tama County Sheriff’s Department), Gerry Kopriva,  Pete Holden (City of Traer), JoAnn Ruopp (Matchstick Marvels), Joanne Husak, Lindi Roelofse.


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  1. Industry Update: Tama County local retail and service income outperforming the State? « Tama County Iowa - October 10, 2010

    […] with especially successful reinvestment strategies would be Dysart and Traer where there is a noticeable investment in the commercial district infrastructure and beautification to enhance the local shopping experience, encouraging gatherings at commercial establishments, […]

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