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Iowa Rural Summit 2021 A Rousing Success; Rural Heroes Honored

The 5th annual Iowa Rural Summit drew almost 250 rural leaders from across Iowa to the campus of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids August 18-20 for a 2.5 day celebrating of small-town innovation and vision.

Rural leaders from as far away as Glenwood, Hastings, Hull and Primghar came to Cedar Rapids to network with colleagues, share best practices and learn about successful initiatives that can be replicated in their communities.

Beginning with opening keynote speaker Helen Miller, a former nine-term Iowa state representative from Fort Dodge, who told the story of her arrival in Webster County as a Black woman from New Jersey, attendees heard about issues ranging from diversity and inclusion to funding strategies for public infrastructure.

Helen Miller, Lt Governor Adam Gregg and SBDC State Director Lisa Shimkat

Sessions at the Summit included discussions of issues ranging from day care to entrepreneurship.  Available presentations can be found here:

Iowa Rural Summit 2021 – Marion County

IRDS Federal Funding Session


Leveraging Federal Dollars – City of Maquoketa


This year’s event also featured the first class of Iowa Rural Hero honorees at an evening reception sponsored by Iowa Farm Bureau/Renew Rural Iowa and IADG Community Foundation.

The individuals recognized have made a difference in their rural community or region through leadership, innovation and accomplishment.

“Our Rural Heroes have had a huge impact on Iowa,” said Mark Reinig, board chairman of the Iowa Rural Development Council.  “Their work demonstrates the impact that a local leader can have on a rural place.”

The 2021 IRDC Rural Heroes are:

Duane Asbe, Clarion; Barb Baker, Grinnell; Beth Bilyeu, Forest City; Evan Blakley, Denison; Kevin Cabbage, Stanton; Jim Erb, Charles City; Lora Friest, Decorah; David Heiar, Maquoketa; Lyle Hevern, Estherville; Bill Morain, Lamoni; Carla and Chuck Offenburger, Cooper; Peg Raney, Jefferson; Beth Waddle, Corning

Iowa Rural Summit 2022 is set for April 12-13 in Ames.

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