Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2014

Iowa names first ‘Great Places’ since 2010

Jul 23, 2014

DES MOINES ­— The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has approved an Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board recommendation to award $613,500 for projects in three new Iowa Great Places – Clear Lake’s Surf District, Madison County and Marshalltown – and the Danish Villages.

“We’re very excited the Iowa Great Places program is being reinvigorated with the addition of these three communities,” DCA director Mary Cownie said. “Congratulations to them and the Danish Villages for receiving project grant funding this year, and we thank the Citizen Advisory Board members for their tireless work and Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature for their support.”

“It gives me pleasure to see such a high level of visioning, collaboration and private investment happening in communities across our state as represented by these projects,” said Nick Glew of Marion, chairman of the Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board. “These communities are investing in what makes them unique and authentic Great Places.”

The program challenges Iowans to create community development proposals that exemplify bold thought and innovation; encourage creativity and entrepreneurship; foster a sense of place and identity; and demonstrate a commitment to enhancing community vitality and quality of life. Proposals are submitted to and reviewed by the 12-person Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Committee, which looks for the following criteria in making its recommendations:

• a guiding vision plan and interrelated set of strategies;

• broad-based support for projects that include multiple local and regional partners and public-private partnerships; and

• strong organizational capacity demonstrated by financial and programmatic performance and service to constituents.

This year, the board reviewed proposals from 18 Iowa communities, with six finalists requesting a total of $1.9 million.

According to a 2010 Economic Impact Report by O’Brien Economic Consulting, from 2005-2009 the first nine Iowa Great Places designees saw the following outcomes from participation in the program:

• Iowa Great Places grants created 1,012 construction jobs and 707 permanent jobs;

• More than $400 million invested in projects that are currently under construction or completed; and

• Iowa Great Places grants have been leveraged on an average of 22-to-1 by local communities.

Created in 2005, Iowa Great Places now includes 31 Iowa communities, with Clear Lake’s Surf District, Madison County and Marshalltown the most recent additions to the program since 2010.

Fairfield was named an Iowa Great Place in October 2006.

The Great Places projects in Fairfield were developed to foster increased economic activity in downtown, celebrate the city’s rich heritage, and solidify Fairfield as leader in culture and the arts. The development of a downtown streetscape plan, a business incubator to promote entrepreneurship in Fairfield, and construction of civic and conference center were all projects designed to increase the economic vitality and sustainability of the city’s downtown.

A bikeway/walkway plan for Fairfield and the completion of the Jefferson County Trails system were additional projects that emphasized and promoted pedestrian activity and accessibility throughout the county.

The Iowa Great Places program is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

For information, including Iowa Great Places community profiles, visit www.iowagreatplaces.gov or contact Iowa Great Places coordinator David Schmitz at david.schmitz2@iowa.gov or 515-242-6195.

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