Region 2: Week 2

It’s week two here in Forest City and Region 2 Rising Star Interns are getting comfortable in our community. We have had the opportunity to get tours of surrounding communities including Buffalo Center, Rake, Leland, Thompson and more. We have also been meeting so many incredibly nice people who have welcomed us into their communities and given us some great advice and input to help us chose our summer projects. On Tuesday, we attended an IFA press conference where they introduced new software. Here we were able to network with leaders in Forest City and surrounding communities. On Wednesday, we traveled to Algona to attend an intern breakfast hosted by Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development.   Mark Nook, President of the University of Northern Iowa was the key note speaker of this event. After the breakfast, we headed to Spencer for a grant writing workshop with the Region 1 interns. As for our summer projects, we have been making good progress with narrowing down our decisions! This week as we met with some more people around Region 2. We met with a City Council member and the City Clerk of Whittemore, a small town south of Algona in Kossuth County. As a town of a little over 500 people, they are looking for help of how to attract and keep people in their town, may it be events at the pool, or bringing in a non traditional business to the area.

Our intern Claire has decided she wants to help with this town’s needs and wants, and is hoping to develop a strategic plan for them. She is also looking into developing some proposal ideas for Winnebago County town, Buffalo Center’s main street, but researching other towns in Iowa that have had success in main street revitalization.

Emma had a meeting with the YMCA in Forest City on Thursday afternoon where plans were put in place to develop an educational garden on the land beside the YMCA building. Emma plans to take this garden on as her summer project, working with YMCA staff to design the garden, create it and start planting as a part of the YMCA Youth Programs.

Last but certainly not least, Jamison’s potential project concerns the small, yet economically thriving town of Lake Mills Iowa. Jamison has already met with the executive director of the Lake Mills Chamber Development Corporation, Cassie Johnson. Cassie is a fellow Iowa State Alumni and was very open to working with extension on potential projects for the community. This project will center around accessing and evaluating businesses in Lake Mills. Jamison has plans to meet with the city administrator and realtors in the community to compile a list of data for the businesses in Lake Mills such as what type of businesses are in Lake Mills, relative size of businesses and the age of the businesses. After this step, he intends to compile this list into an excel document to organize this data and insert it into Arc GIS, which is an online mapping tool to display the data visually. Finally, from this analysis of the businesses in Lake Mills, Jamison will be incorporating spec designs for vacant plots in the city to encourage and showcase what businesses can be incorporated in this community. This project will help with expanding Lake Mills and positively impacting other Iowa small towns outside of Lake mills.