Iowa Rural Development Hosts First Summit, Attracts Huge Crowd!
The Iowa Rural Development Council stepped outside its comfort zone in 2016, moving from an information-sharing organization to resource provider and catalyst for identifying and addressing rural issues.
IRDC developed a plan to bring rural residents together to discuss the challenges and opportunities that currently exist. But rather than simply host an event and invite everyone, the Council extended invitations to a diverse group of communities. There was a catch, though. To attend the community had to bring a three-person team.
On a snowy November day in Jefferson, Iowa, more than 300 rural leaders, elected officials and interested residents convened to discuss their collective futures. RUPRI’s Chuck Fluharty and Center for Rural Entrepreneurship’s Don Macke spoke. Presentations focused on key issues. Much discussion and networking took place. Throughout the day, the group focused on the theme: “Inspire. Inform. Involve. Implement.”
With that taste of success, IRDC is now positioned for additional activity and engagement. A strategic planning retreat will help the Council shape its future direction, with the possibility of an expanded membership base, annual dues, an operating budget and a new focus on broad engagement, public/private partnerships, targeted assistance and training, and enhanced advocacy for the 900+ small towns and rural areas in the state.
Iowa Rural Development Council Partners:
Federal—HUD, SBA, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA Rural Development
State—Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Finance Authority, Iowa State Univer-sity, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa
Non-Governmental–Association of Business and Industry, Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa Telecommunications Alli-ance, Iowa Area Development Group, Iowa Farm Bureau, Professional Developers of Iowa