Comprised of Mason City, Clear Lake, and Greater Cerro Gordo County, the North Iowa Corridor boasts multiple industry strengths, including advanced manufacturing, food processing, transportation and warehousing, and healthcare services. Like many rural areas, however, the region struggled to retain young professionals and experienced a gradual decline in population and employment in recent decades.
The Vision North Iowa partnership was formed to respond to these challenges and create a multi-jurisdictional strategy for regional economic growth and prosperity. TIP Strategies was engaged to guide the project. In addition to an assessment of the region’s economy and a review of the partner network, the planning process was informed by an extensive stakeholder input process that included 4 town hall meetings, focus groups held with stakeholders ranging from high school students to young professionals, an online survey that garnered more than 700 responses, and a media engagement strategy. The Vision North Iowa Regional Prosperity Strategy marked a more proactive approach to economic development in the region. The strategy’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and the attraction and retention of talent reflected the increasing importance of skilled workers and a culture of innovation in corporate investment decisions. The strategy also provided recommendations for positioning North Iowa among target industry decision makers, supporting future growth sectors through effective workforce development initiatives, and enhancing the region’s quality of place.