Iowa Downtown Resource Newsletter

February 22, 2022

Director's Column

Most of our memories are directly associated with a PLACE. We go back to places where we’ve had positive experiences. We must strive to keep Downtown a “go to” destination for community residents and visitors, not simply a place to avoid or drive through on our way somewhere else.

The Iowa Downtown Resource Center has conducted Downtown Assessments and Walk Arounds services in over 150 Iowa communities. Although every downtown is different, they face many of the same challenges. Downtowns often have visual and aesthetic issues that affect their ability to attract quality businesses, investors, shoppers and residents. These deterrents are often taken for granted by long term residents. We can ALL do better. Read More.

Downtown Difference Maker - Janet Kuskie-Hermsen

I grew up in a small town in western Nebraska with less than 1,200 people. When I was a junior in high school, I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student and lived in Finland from 2010-2011. Being able to live in a different country and experience another culture prepared me for many things in life.

During my senior year in high school, I was recruited to play college golf for William Penn University, where I also became involved with student government and served as the Student Government President when I was a junior. During my time at William Penn, I got to know the leadership in Oskaloosa and really felt like I was a part of the community. Read More.

Downtown Gem - Mabe's Pizza

There is no better choice for a downtown gem than a legendary pizza place that has been a local favorite in Decorah, Iowa, for many years.

At the age of 49, Mabel White started in the restaurant business in 1953 with Mabel’s Lunchroom located on College Drive in Decorah. Students from nearby Luther College were regular customers. Mabel often let them make their own sandwiches and change at the register. One fateful day, a student asked if he could make himself a “pizza.” Mabel agreed without knowing what a pizza was or understanding how this would change her life and eventually become an icon of Decorah. Read More.

Downtown Design Guide

The Iowa Downtown Resource Center is happy to announce the release of the newly created Downtown Design Guide. The Downtown Design Guide was created by the Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa staff to assist community stakeholders working on historic commercial district revitalization across the state. The guide can be a great tool for any community interested in preserving and maintaining the historic character of its physical assets while embracing diversity, quality design, sustainability practices and accessibility for all.

Please read, share and reference as needed – we hope this will be a helpful addition to your downtown revitalization toolbox!

Volunteer Iowa Accepting Nominations for the 2022 Governor’s Volunteer Awards

Volunteer Iowa Accepting Nominations for the 2022 Governor’s Volunteer Awards Entry deadline is April 15, 6:00 p.m.

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards program, established in 1982, provides an easy way for organizations to honor their volunteers with a prestigious, state-level recognition award. Recipients are honored at regional ceremonies held in the summer. Three award categories are available: Individual, Group and Length of Service. Read More.

2022 Downtown Forums

The Iowa Downtown Resource Center will offer four interactive downtown forums in June focusing on downtown nuisance properties, problem buildings and the actions a city can take to remove the problem.

Agenda includes Examples of Downtown Nuisances, Community Examples / Audience Discussion, Ordinances and Enforcement, Downtown Tour, Basics of Good Building Design and Low-Cost Solutions, Incentives to Encourage the Best Projects (state and local), and more! Read More.

Iowa Rural Summit

Registration is open for the sixth-annual Iowa Rural Summit to be held April 12-13 in Ames.

The Summit brings together rural leaders from across Iowa who share successes and best practices in the areas of housing, broadband, entrepreneurship and community development. The two-day event takes place at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames and features keynote speeches, roundtables and subject-specific break-out sessions.

Rural communities are asked to bring a three-person team to expand their ability to learn and connect. Read More.

Iowa Tourism Conference
April 19-20

The Iowa Tourism Conference is the state’s premier educational and networking event for tourism professionals. This year’s event, scheduled for April 19-20 at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown, features a variety of nationally known speakers addressing small business successes, accessibility, branding and utilizing user-generated content. Registration is $250, and the deadline to register is April 1 (No fooling!).


To learn more, contact or call 515.348.6258.

2022 Iowa Downtown Conference

2022 Iowa Downtown Conference Opportunities – Save the date for the only statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in historic commercial district revitalization in Iowa. The Iowa Downtown Conference will be held August 2-3, in Pella. The event includes two full days of comprehensive downtown revitalization training, tours and plenty of time to network.

For the last 35 years, the Iowa Downtown Conference has been an opportunity for individuals from rural communities to mid-size towns and urban districts to come together to share successes and challenges and learn valuable   lessons to help in local revitalization efforts. Attendees depart with knowledge to re-energize downtown organizations, support small businesses, refurbish historic buildings and build vibrant, sustainable communities. Now more than ever, downtowns across Iowa have an important role as economic and social hubs of community development. Read More.