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Iowa Downtown Forums 2024

The Power of the Sign

The Power of the Sign

signsDowntowns need to draw residents and visitors and generate sales, excitement and establish downtown as the place to go. Downtowns and businesses need to be noticed. Signage could be the single largest on-site marketing tool that we have to convey business identity and welcome people to the downtown. Business signs, wayfinding signs and entry signs if done well bring color, creativity, art and vibrancy. They provide an opportunity for businesses to communicate what they do. Public directional and gateway signs help develop an image for the entire downtown. Come to one of our Downtown Forums to learn how community leaders can make a difference with programs to improve signage in your downtown.

Downtown and community leaders across the state of Iowa are invited to attend a Downtown Forum in one of four locations in June. The forums presented by the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Downtown Resource Center give communities the opportunity to talk to each other about their downtown ideas, successes and challenges. You may even steal an idea or two. Iowa Downtown Resource Center staff will facilitate discussions related to Downtown Signage. Participants are encouraged to come ready to share examples from their communities. The Iowa Downtown Resource Center assists communities around the state in revitalizing their downtowns or traditional commercial districts. The Downtown Forums are FREE to attend and our four host communities are looking forward to your visit.

Featured speaker will be Ben Muldrow, Partner, Arnett Muldrow. Ben is a talented graphic artist who has been designing for over 25 years with experience in a wide variety of marketing applications. He provides community identity and branding services for communities across the United States. Ben has worked on a number of projects specializing in the development of city and neighborhood identities, wayfinding strategies and promotional marketing material.

  • Oelwein | Tuesday, June 18 | Ampersand, 110 S. Frederick Avenue
  • Wellman | Wednesday, June 19 | City Hall (basement conference room), 316 8th Ave
  • Corning | Tuesday, June 25 | Corning Opera House, 800 Davis Ave
  • Pocahontas | Wednesday, June 26 | Rialto Theatre, 324 N. Main Street

Downtown forums are complimentary, but registration is required.


Forum Agenda
10:00 a.m. | Introduction
10:15 a.m. | Community Entry Signs/Downtown Entry Signs/Features
10:45 a.m. | Wayfinding Signage Systems
11:30 a.m. | Walking tour of host community
  • (Attendee exercise: Identify best business sign) (Evaluate gateway signs and wayfinding)
  • (Attendee exercise: Evaluate host community downtown; What is good? What needs work?)
12:15 p.m. | Lunch on your own
1:30 p.m. | Discussion:
  1. Opportunity to critique host downtown
  2. Tell me one cool thing happening or has happened in your downtown
  3. Coolest business signs in host community downtown: and why
2:15 p.m. | Downtown business signs: 10 tips (good and bad examples)
  • Business identifiers such as storefront windows
3:00 p.m. | Sign ordinances (blade signs, height, size)
3:15 p.m. | Tips for how your community can develop local incentive programs for downtown business signs;
  • Other projects to influence good downtown signage?
3:30 p.m. | Idea: Co-Sign. How can your community pull this off?
4:00 p.m. | Adjourn

For more information, contact:

Jim Engle