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State Historical Society of Iowa

Ames, Burlington and Council Bluffs Districts Named Iowa's Newest Great Places

Jul 24, 2017

DES MOINES - This year's newly minted Iowa Great Places cut a large swath of greatness from the Missouri to the Mississippi.

Council Bluffs' Haymarket area, Ames' historic downtown district and Burlington's downtown riverfront were named Iowa's three newest Great Places today by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Appanoose County and the Turkey River Recreational Corridor were re-designated Iowa Great Paces.

"The Iowa Great Places program continues to support Iowans as they build and strengthen cultural vitality in their communities," Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie said. "Their efforts enhance quality of life and generate economic growth for Iowans, and we're proud to join them as partners through this program. I encourage Iowans to join me in congratulating them for this well-deserved recognition."

The program recognizes and partners with Iowans who cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of their local places - neighborhoods, districts or regions - and make them great places to live and work. Iowa's Great Places receive access to professional development training, technical assistance opportunities, a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders, and other state and local resources.

In addition to designation and re-designation, Iowa's Great Places can apply for funding this fall for projects that are tied to their Vision Plan. Funding comes from an annual appropriation from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund to the Iowa Great Places program by the Iowa Legislature.

Information about Iowa's newly designated and re-designated Great Places follows:

Ames Main Street Cultural District

Ames Main Street Cultural District is the historic downtown district of Ames. It leads, engages and facilitates initiatives that advance the economic, social and cultural well-being of the district, and is having a transformative impact on the entire community by creating vibrant spaces to live, work, and play through public and private investments.

Burlington Downtown Riverfront Improvements District

Burlington is a classic river town with a rich history of riverfront and rail commerce and has kept its character alive through the preservation of historic landmarks. The Burlington Downtown Riverfront Improvement District includes a series of public infrastructure projects catalyze private development while simultaneously reclaiming underutilized areas of the riverfront, enhancing and expanding the diversity of recreational opportunities along the riverfront, and creating a civic destination. The projects will transform the area by taking a once-active and culturally significant area of the community - the downtown riverfront - and adding recreational amenities to make it a destination used by locals and visitors on a daily basis.

Council Bluffs’ South Main Cultural District

The South Main Cultural District is located in and around Council Bluffs’ historic Haymarket area. Its vision plan sets an innovative eye to an under-invested part of the community in order to transform it into a driver of quality of life for residents and visitors. As South Main Cultural District is located in one of the most economically depressed parts of Council Bluffs, it has the potential to transform the area's standard of living through increased economic activity. Its vision embraces the existing character of the district as both an asset and a pathway to preserving the buildings and historic character of the Haymarket.

Turkey River Recreational Corridor

The Turkey River Recreational Corridor connects Clermont, Elgin and Elkader by developing and enhancing land and water trails that serve as a catalyst for economic growth and development. Upon receiving the Iowa Great Place designation in 2010, the cities of Elgin, Clermont, Elkader along with Fayette and Clayton counties formed the Turkey River Recreational Corridor. Since its inception, the corridor has raised more than $7 million through local, state and federal grant writing and private fundraising for projects that meet its mission and strategic priorities.

Appanoose County Seat District

Appanoose County Seat District is the epicenter of commerce and culture in Appanoose County. The Centerville Historic Commercial District features the Largest Town Square, including 119 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and 103 operating businesses. In recent years, the community has shifted from thinking it is one of Iowa's poorest to the knowledge that it is a truly a Great Place to shop, work and play. It is now focused on addressing its community "gaps" in an organized step-by-step method. Appanoose County Seat District is a living example of a Great Place in Iowa where leaders work in unison to take action that improves their community while staying true to the characteristics that make it truly unique.

The Iowa Great Places program is overseen by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.