While local incentives can bring businesses to small Iowa towns, they are no guarantee that the town can be vital or bring visitors, a summer-long IowaWatch investigation of towns with fewer than 5,000 people showed. The reasons vary.
A handful of small Iowa towns with populations of less than 5,000 and not part of a larger metro area, bucked the trend and grew their populations in the 2020 census data just released. Growing small towns have one or more factors working in their favor, a summer-long IowaWatch investigation revealed for this special report.
We asked leaders in several rural Iowa towns for ways small Iowa towns could be vital. Jobs are a given, although those interviewed said having jobs, alone, does not guarantee vitality if other dynamics are not present in town.
Suzanne Behnke, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism and its news outlet, IowaWatch, has been named to the Institute for Nonprofit News Emerging Leaders Council. INN announced Thursday, May 21, that Behnke is among 11 leaders selected for the third Emerging Leaders Council, which identifies and supports leaders who will advance the nonprofit news sector throughout the next decade.
“This is a terrific opportunity to network, to support nonprofit news and to find ways to strengthen IowaWatch,” Behnke said. “I am excited to join a terrific group of journalists.”
Behnke joined the Center in 2019 after spending two years at the Des Moines Business Record, where she was an editor and contributor. She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola. Behnke, a native Iowan, has a long and rich news reporting and editing history in the state. She was a reporter, copy editor and page designer at The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier from 1997 to 2000 before joining The Des Moines Register staff.
UPDATED AFTER THE EVENT: Story ideas, public feedback during April 24, 2019, citizens’ journalism workshop:
You’re interested in your community and current events and wonder how news about them is reported and written. Now, you have a chance to not only learn that but to be part of a workshop that takes you through the steps of reporting, writing and editing a news story in your community. The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, which runs the news site, IowaWatch.org, will host a journalism workshop on April 24, 2019, from 6 to 8 p.m. to inform and engage the public in news reporting. The workshop, “Creative Minds: Journalism Workshop Engaging Citizens In the News,” will be in the Iowa City Public Library, Room D, at 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City. REGISTER HERE
This workshop will be open to the public but we recommend confirmation that you will attend through Eventbrite, an online event management platform.
This venture by IowaWatch, with radio station partners across Iowa, plus others who want to promote meaningful conversation about issues in the state, is funded by a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant.