The city of Mount Pleasant is preparing for Iowa Wesleyan University to close at the end of the month and there are still many questions about what that will mean to business and labor in the community.

At the Grange Public House and Brewery, owner Sue Sorensen says her husband Eric is more optimistic about the end of Iowa Wesleyan
” I’m the one who’s super concerned — like what’s going to happen? What’s his town gonna look like? What’s our business gonna look like?,” she says.

The U.S.D.A. is taking ownership of the campus, and has been holding meetings in the town to help find a new use and a new owner for the campus. Rachel Lindane works in economic development in Mount Pleasant, she says while she’s gotten a lot of calls and questions about the road ahead, there just aren’t many answers at this point.

“We don’t know that. But what we can tell you is those students were staff of many of our local organizations. Yeah, right now I’m hearing more about labor than I am anything else,” Lindane says. Mount Pleasant was first incorporated as a town in 1842, the same year the University was established. ISU Architecture and Design professor, Kimberly Zarcore, is studying how quality of life in a small town can be maintained even as it loses population. She says the town’s future is tied up in what makes Mount Pleasant a good place to live in the first place.

“Not everyone in Mount Pleasant worked at the university or had their children there, right? There’s a whole world of Mount Pleasant that didn’t rely on the university,” Zarcore says. “And that part of the community is going to have to step up and express itself and maybe even become bigger, in terms of the community’s identity.”

This is what Mount Pleasant residents like Sue Sorensen and her husband will have to figure out with their neighbors. “I have no idea what this is going to look like in two months, because we don’t know what’s gonna look like after all the students are gone. Let’s wait and see. Which is so hard for me,” Sorenson says.

The U.S.D.A. says it will work side by side with the community as it moves ahead.

(By Zachary Smith, Iowa Public Radio)

Radio Iowa