Prosperity Eastern Iowa Program Evaluation & Plan

Project Lead(s): Holly McPherson (Regional Economic & Sustainability Coordinator – ECIA)

Class/Program: Urban & Regional Planning Field Problems (Year-Long Project)

For this project, students will explore the role of regional government in promoting sustainable business practices through an evaluation of The Petal Project and Buyer Supplier, two of Prosperity Eastern Iowa’s flagship economic development programs. For each program, students will research current usage, the extent to which users’ needs are served, and best practices to increase effectiveness, and success. Through achieving the deliverables outlined below, students will learn how to translate the economic development goals and vision of Prosperity Eastern Iowa into practice. Students will research national sustainability models and frameworks to determine best practices, assess the Petal Project structure and criteria, survey existing Petal Project businesses, and make recommendations based on this research. The main deliverables for this part of the project will be a refreshed program structure and business plan for the Petal Project. For Buyer/Supplier, students will research other national buyer/supplier type networks and survey local businesses about what they are looking for in the program to determine how ECIA can successfully revamp the current Buyer/Supplier program and increase its usage and effectiveness. The deliverable for this project will be providing a marketing plan on reaching out to businesses on how to engage them with Buyer/Supplier. Students might also look at how the Buyer Supplier and Petal project can be coordinated into complementary programs with one website.


Regional Brownfields Inventory and Land Bank Feasibility Study

Project Lead(s): Jenna Soyer (Municipal Relations Coordinator – ECIA)

Class/Program: Urban & Regional Planning Field Problems (Year-Long Project)

For this project, students will research and develop regional land use planning tools that will help ECIA organize, prioritize, and achieve information, resources, and a sustainable pattern of land use in their five county region. Students will focus on two area of particular importance to ECIA: a regional brownfields inventory and a land bank feasibility study. Students will research best practices for large scale brownfields inventories, consult with Kansas State University’s Technical Assistance for Brownfields Communities program, develop of a methodology for collection, conduct primary and secondary research on potential brownfields properties, and develop and populate a useful database. To better connect the database to policy, the database should include a prioritization mechanism indicating which properties are most urgent to address or best positioned to be transitioned into an alternative use. The second aspect of this project will entail researching regional land bank models throughout the United States, and assessing their applicability to the five county region covered by ECIA. The goals of this part of the study will be to explore different land bank organizational and operational structures, identify successes and lessons learned from these existing models, analyze ECIA’s regional need for a land bank, and ultimately make a recommendation as to which model (or elements of models) would work best for the region.


Lost Nation Downtown Marketing Plan

Project Lead(s): Jim Schroeder (Mayor, Lost Nation)

Class/Program: Entrepreneurial Management Institute

Lost Nation’s biggest challenges are focused on their small downtown, which is in decline and needs to be revitalized. While several of the business owners in downtown Lost Nation are engaged in the community and are actively expanding/improving their businesses, overall downtown Lost Nation has significant issues with: 1) abandoned and derelict buildings, 2) property owners not maintaining businesses, and 3) continued loss of economic activity. Because Lost Nation is a rural Iowa community, these challenges have been compounded by the farm crisis, brain-drain of youth, business owners retiring and closing shop, lack of resources and awareness of business marketing, the loss of daytime population with the closing of Lost Nation’s school, and competition with nearby small towns. To help revitalize downtown Lost Nation, this project will focus on marketing the downtown Lost Nation area as a whole (i.e., the project will focus on the entire area rather than on only certain businesses). Students will be asked to provide the basic structure of a downtown marketing plan, looking at similar sized rural communities and best practices.


Old Edgewood Feed Mill Museum Project

Project Lead(s): Art Johnson (The Edgewood Museum Corporation)

Class/Program: Museums in a Digital World

 The community of Edgewood has drawn together to work towards the establishment of an Edgewood Historical Museum, which will be the community’s first opportunity to display their rich historical documents and items. The group was recently gifted the use of a historical building in which to house the museum, and structural renovations are currently underway to make the museum a reality. During this time, the community desires to prepare artifacts and exhibits for the new museum that provide interesting and educational interpretations of the documents and items they have to display. Students in Heidi Lung’s “Museums in the Digital Age” class will work with the museum Board of Trustees to identify a collection management system, create a communication plan, and provide assistance in interpreting artifacts and collecting stories.  The communication plan will look at innovative and digital strategies for presenting museum information to the public.


Marketing Maquoketa

Project Lead: TBD

Class/Program: Marketing Institute at the Tippie College of Business; Graphic Design Program (Year-long project)

Maquoketa would like to build upon the many revitalization and community betterment projects underway by developing a fresh logo and brand suite and creating a communication plan that will increase tourism and positive perceptions within Maquoketa. Marketing students will work with a stakeholder committee to host focus group sessions , develop tagline options, and create a communication strategy. Data gathered from the focus groups (and previous visioning processes) will be used by Graphic Design students to create logo options. Both the preferred tagline and logo  will be chosen by the public through an online voting process. Graphic Design students will then provide a branding suite based on the chosen design, and Marketing students will incorporate this brand into the marketing recommendations.