Iowa Ideas 2023

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The changing Iowa landscape through the lens of geography and people within.

    The impact of declining populations on Iowa’s way of life

    As population in Iowa stagnates – and, in many communities, declines – how can cities and counties continue to fund quality of life initiatives that require tax money to build and maintain? Can we turn around Iowa’s population trends? And, if so, what will it take? How can we tell the state’s story in a way that keeps people here and convinces others to move here?

    October 12, 2023 at 10:10AM

    • Rachel Lindeen


    Making the final broadband connections

    For years, government officials have stressed the importance of broadband connectivity for all Iowans. Where does Iowa stand in its effort to provide high speed internet access for all residents? And, once it’s available to everyone, what's the next step? How do we guarantee equal access for every Iowan?

    October 12, 2023 at 11:15AM

    • Sean Gonsalves

    • Curtis Dean

    • Patrie Carroll??

    • Brittney Morales

    • Quentin Hart


    Taking public projects from idea to reality

    From concept to action, this session will identify the steps of bringing projects to life. Once you have an idea, what’s next? How do you bring people along with you? And what are the different roles? How can government agencies work with private entities, and what has to happen to find success? We’ll also discuss failure, and how to avoid it.

    October 12, 2023 at 1:20PM

    • Nancy Bird

    • Josh Schamberger


    Answering a neighborhood’s needs

    What happens when community hubs localize their services, focusing on where people live? How can community hubs such as neighborhood centers serve as a central source for childcare, housing and more? This session will discuss how Iowa communities are using this approach, which can build trust, retention and engagement.

    October 12, 2023 at 2:25PM


    Intersection: A new era of volunteers, The significance of interactions, Civic engagement-who will step up?

    The need for volunteers has not decreased, but the number of people willing to give their time and talents has. From arts to civic service, what’s behind the waning interest in volunteerism? What has incentivized people to volunteer in the past, and how has that changed? Why are people so hesitant to take that step – whether it’s volunteering at a fundraiser or running for local office, and what can be done to turn it around?

    October 13, 2023 at 8:30AM

    • Jami Harberl

    • Nikki Wilcox

    • Raymond Siddell


    Beyond writing a check

    We will assess the response to DEI initiatives and barriers they’ve faced. What’s going wrong and what’s going right when it comes to intent vs. Action from civic leaders, employers and the public? How can quick reaction without long term strategy negatively impact even the best intentions?

    October 13, 2023 at 9:40AM

    • Joy Briscoe


    Strain within immigrant and refugee families

    The transition to a new country and a new community can present myriad hardships, but what about the challenges in family dynamics? What do roles and traditions look like, and how do those contrast with life in Iowa? How does transition – of transportation, housing, education and employment -- affect the family? And how are these complicated by language barriers? What can be done to support families?

    October 13, 2023 at 10:45AM

    • Dr. Stacey Cole

    • Mike Mbanza

    • Elizabeth Buch

    • Henny Ohr

    • Mugisha Gloire

Community Articles

  • It had been more than 25 years since Forest City — a northern Iowa city under 4,000 population, straddling Hancock and Winnebago counties — had seen an affordable housing development. “We were having a workforce constraint, like most everyone else,” said Beth Bilyeu, executive director of Forest City Economic Development. “We can hire people in ...
  • Newton, Iowa, is a much different place almost a decade and a half after the city lost its Fortune 500 company. The central Iowa city has spent the past 14 years reestablishing itself after Maytag, the washing machine manufacturer that at its peak employed more than 3,000 people, left the city in 2007.
  • Next year could be a big one for broadband expansion in Iowa. As funding from the state became available in July, many internet service providers are looking for a funding boost to expand fiber networks and bring Iowa up to speed.
  • Whether it's the derecho, coronavirus, or Iowa's rural housing challenges, finding affordable housing in Iowa will have a growing impact on Iowa's economy. What can communities do to help more projects get through the pipeline? Panelists include: Lauren Johnson, Polk County Housing Trust Fund; Stephanie Murphy, Cedar Rapids Neighborhood Finance ...
  • A look at the realities for immigrants arriving to Iowa and access to resources for success. Establishing a home, finding employment and connecting to a new community bring to light challenges that go unnoticed by many. Hear from panelists devoted to improving the process while recognizing the positive impact these individuals have to the state....
  • Group Violence Intervention (GVI) is a comprehensive, evidence-based, life-saving violence reduction strategy that brings community members together with law enforcement and social service providers to focus an antiviolence message on highly active street groups. GVI combines the best of law enforcement and community-driven approaches to improve...
  • Finding new and modern housing is a real challenge for some of Iowa's rural communities. Attracting a builder to take a risk of building new homes can be a challenge too. Several programs are taking innovative approaches to improving housing in communities around Iowa. Panelists include: Dan Clark, Iowa Prison Industries Homes for Iowa; Becky Ro...
  • The need for broadband has been highlighted like never before in Iowa during the COVID-19 pandemic as people suddenly were shifting to work and learn from home. With more than $50 million in CARES funding allocated to improve broadband access, will we see major progress on access in coming years? Panelists include: Matt Behrens, Deputy Director,...
  • Unique elements of a community can be a foundation to reinvent tired space. This session will explore traditional space alongside development projects that have had to pause due to the challenges of 2020. How can these projects move forward, bringing past and present into future economic opportunities? Panelists include: Nate Kaeding, Build to S...
  • Cindy Lint has been unemployed since April, struggling to find jobs during a pandemic when they are hard to come by. She can't submit applications for now since losing internet service from the Aug. 10 derecho, and health conditions limit what jobs she can take. 'I've given it to God because that's all I can do,” said Lint, 50.

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