Members of the “Iowa Great Places” citizens’ advisory board are taking a week-long bus tour of communities that are finalists in the program. Six “great places” will be unveiled Friday morning. This is the second year for the program, designed to target local community assets and offer them the help of state agencies to develop them into great places. Advisory board chair Bill Menner says there are some common themes among applicants.
Lots of times he says it’s aesthetics, including historic preservation projects. But the last two years they’re seeing a lot of trails, a topic that sends a message to the state of Iowa that trail systems offer a great opportunity to reach out to local communities. Menner says the finalists this year are Adams County, Appanoose County, Decorah, Dubuque, Fairfield, Grinnell, Guttenberg, Jackson County, Mason City, Valley Junction, Wappello County and Warren County. From those he says they’ll select six, at the end of the day on Thursday.
Those six communities will join last year’s three “Great Places,” Clinton, Coon Rapids and Sioux City, and they’ll work closely with the state to identify more sources of revenue, other opportunities for grants that might exist to help make their great places a reality. In developing their proposals, applicants were to address seven unique and authentic qualities that make places special. They include diverse populations and culture, a vital creative community, and a shared attitude of optimism that welcomes new ideas. Last year’s great places were Coon Rapids, Clinton and Sioux City.