Empower Rural Iowa

Revitalizing Iowa

Connecting, Growing and Investing in Iowa's Rural Communities

A small crowd watches a press conference featuring Governor Kim Reynolds on the storefront of The Candy Kitchen in Wilton, Iowa.

The Center for Rural Revitalization, housed within the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Empower Rural Iowa (ERI) initiative, implementing ERI task force recommendations, acting as a liaison to rural communities, and helping small communities access programs that support rural areas.

Empower Rural Iowa Annual Report

The Governor’s ERI initiative was created by executive order in 2018. It is a partnership with the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC) and co-chaired by Lt. Governor Adam Gregg and IRDC Chair Sandy Ehrig. The Empower Rural Iowa Act also created three task forces, which develop recommendations for Gov. Kim Reynolds in advance of each legislative session. Over the years, the task forces have addressed the following topics:

  • Investing in Rural Iowa Task Force – rural housing shortage, derelict and dilapidated buildings, online business presence, business transition planning, and entrepreneurship.
  • Growing Rural Iowa Task Force – leadership development in rural communities, creating welcoming communities, and attracting and retaining residents or workers.
  • Connecting Rural Iowa Task Force – financing broadband connectivity, leveraging connectivity, and remote worker readiness.

In addition to providing funding assistance for projects and initiatives across the state, the Center for Rural Revitalization also provides technical assistance to rural communities in a variety of ways. Options include community visits for discussion on projects, challenges, and opportunities; "scale-up" conversations with a team of partners focused on a specific initiative for a community, organization, or business that is taking that next step; or a "Strategic Doing" (strategicdoing.net) facilitation process for groups looking to generate innovative solutions and collaborative outcomes. Contact rural@iowaeda.com for additional information.

The Center also supports existing rural leadership programs through the Rural Leadership Exchange. The Exchange is an annual in-person opportunity for leadership programs to learn and collaborate as well as ongoing training and support through webinars and resources.

IEDA's community development programs provide support for downtown development projects. For more information on best practices and resources for revitalizing rural communities, visit the Iowa Rural Development Council. For updates on ERI meetings and resources, follow Empower Rural Iowa on Facebook and Twitter.

Empower Rural Iowa Grant Programs

Rural BOOST Program
The Rural BOOST program aims to provide teams of experts to assist passionate community and business leaders in developing intentional plans for next step growth. Learn more here.

Rural Child Care Market Study Program
The Rural Child Care Market Study Grant program seeks to support the use of data and analysis by rural communities to determine the specific needs and solutions for their area. Learn more here.

Iowa United First Aid Grant Program
The Iowa United First Aid Grant Program aims to leverage technology and volunteers to address challenges in rural emergency response. Learn more here.

Rural Enrichment Grant Program
The Rural Enrichment Grant Program supports small quality of life projects that will create meaningful results in rural communities. Learn more here.

Rural Housing Assessment Grant Program
The Rural Housing Assessment Grant program supports the use of publicly available, online information through the “Profile of Iowa” tool and rural community efforts to interpret publicly available hard data to implement changes through development codes, local ordinances and housing incentives specific to individual community needs. Learn more here.

Rural Innovation Grant Program
The Rural Innovation Grant program supports creative, non-traditional ideas that focus on current issues and challenges faced by rural communities associated with the themes of community investment, growth and connection. Learn more here.

Rural Leadership Grant Program
The Rural Leadership Grant program provides training, mentorship and funding to rural communities and regions initiating leadership programs. Learn more here.

Rural Return Program
The Rural Return Grant program seeks to support creative programming that attracts new residents to move and/or work in rural communities. Learn more here.

Rural Scale-Up Program
The Rural Scale-Up Grant program aims to support the replication and spread of creative solutions that are addressing current issues and challenges faced by rural communities. Learn more here.

Empower Rural Iowa Events

For more information, contact:

Liesl Seabert