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$2.9 million in catalyst funding awarded to rejuvenate downtowns across Iowa


This news story was published on April 12, 2019.
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DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg announced today that $2.9 million in Catalyst Grant funding will be awarded to 29 communities across the state. The recipients will be recognized during a special ceremony tonight at the Rural Summit in Grinnell.

The Community Catalyst program was initiated in 2018 by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to help create fundamental, positive change in Iowa’s downtowns. The grants, $100,000 per community, assist with the redevelopment or rehabilitation of buildings to stimulate economic growth and reinvestment.

“The Community Catalyst program not only revitalizes main streets, but encourages further development and future growth for years to come,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Empowering and investing in every Iowa community is critical for bringing success to all corners of the state.”

“Each catalyst project is unique, inspiring different types of growth and development depending on the communities where they’re located,” said Lt. Gov. Gregg. “We appreciate the engagement of local leadership and the combination of public and private investment it takes to make the catalyst projects a reality.”

For example, Coon Rapids plans to use its Catalyst funding to transform a former seed company building downtown. The community of 1,200 suffered a setback when the business moved out of town, leaving a half-block of vacant property in its wake. New training space for an industrial biotech company and upper story rentals in the space will restore community pride and provide fresh hope for workforce growth.

The community of Slater, which is home to 1,489 residents, will use its Catalyst grant to revitalize a main street building that has been vacant for 20 years. The future renovated property already has a potential buyer in a tech company that is proposing to add 25 new well-paid jobs. The project is expected to not only improve appearances downtown, but also generate excitement that high-tech is happening in small towns too.

Of the 29 communities awarded during the 2019 application round, 16 have populations of fewer than 1,500. Program rules require at least 40 percent of funds be awarded to cities with fewer than 1,500 people. The Catalyst Grants are awarded annually based on funding availability. IEDA awarded $1.8 million in grants to 18 cities in 2018. Emergency Catalyst grants have also been awarded to the communities of Anamosa, Vinton and Marshalltown since the program’s inception.

A full list of the of the 2019 Community Catalyst Grant recipients is available here.

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