The Iowa Great Places program seeks to advance the State of Iowa's goals for growth and economic prosperity by cultivating the unique and authentic qualities of Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions to make them great places to live, work and visit.
Through a ten-year designation and competitive funding opportunities, the program recognizes communities and regions that have developed vision plans, partnerships and strategies around the development of creative and cultural assets.
Iowa Great Places may use their designation as a point of civic pride. Additionally, designated communities are eligible to apply for program grant funding; may seek technical assistance from the department and other state resources; and have access to professional development and learning opportunities through a network of experienced community leaders.
Competitive applicants at the designation stage will demonstrate a commitment to developing local assets across these core program areas:
- Arts and Culture
- Entrepreneurial incentive for business development
- Historic Fabric
- Housing Options
- Natural Environment
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs program, defined in Iowa Code 303.3C, is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board.
Applicants applying for Re-Designation: Thursday, February 24, 2022
Applicants applying for New Designation: Monday, May 2, 2022
Applicants will be notified of designation by June 30, 2022
Benefits of Designation
Designated communities will have opportunities to:
- Apply for competitive grant funding to support eligible vertical infrastructure projects and expenses, as defined by Iowa Code 8.57.
- Use the Iowa Great Places designation in signage and marketing materials.
- Participate in the Iowa Creative Places network covenings, trainings and webinars
- Receive technical assistance from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
- Receive additional state agency consideration for a limited number of projects through the endorsement process. Designated places will receive additional information.
Expectations After Designation
Designated communities are expected to:
- Actively participate in the Iowa Creative Places Network by attending relevant meetings, events or professional development opportunities over the ten year designation period.
- Serve as mentors for new or potential designees, as requested.
- Complete a re-designation process every ten years, at which point they can present new projects for potential endorsement and funding.
- Complete an annual report at the end of each calendar year.
Designated Iowa Great Places have the opportunity to compete for grant funding to support eligible types of vertical infrastructure projects and expenses. Projects that seek to develop cultural assets will receive priority.
- Eligible projects must be integrated with a shared community vision and set of strategies, involve significant public/private partnerships and collaboration, and focus on the development of local and regional cultural assets.
- Designated Iowa Great Places are currently limited to funding for one project, per ten-year designation period, regardless of whether the project is fully or partially funded. Funding eligibility may change with additional program funding.
- Funding for the Iowa Great Places Program is made possible by an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. The Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board reserves the right to recommend funding projects, in whole or in part, and to recommend withholding awarding available funds.
Iowa Great Places Project Endorsement
Designated Iowa Great Places have the opportunity to apply for project endorsement from the Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board. With this endorsement, designated Iowa Great Places may receive additional consideration for funding from partner state agency programs for the length of the designation period. Endorsement benefits vary by state agency.
- Designated Iowa Great Places may submit a project for endorsement on a rolling basis to be reviewed at quarterly Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board meetings.
- Proposed projects must be integrated with a shared community vision and set of strategies, involve significant public/private partnerships and collaboration, and focus on the development of local and regional assets across the core program areas.
Communities seeking Iowa Great Places designation must have undertaken a public input process to create a vision plan supported by multiple public/private partners that includes: 1) a shared community vision that values local cultural assets; 2) goals that challenge the community to advance their quality of life; 3) strategies to achieve the goals and vision that involve significant public/private partnerships and collaboration, and focus on the development of local and regional assets in the core program areas.
Communities must identify a single entity to serve as the primary applicant for both the designation and future grant funding applications. This also applies to applications that involve collaboration between multiple organizations or a consortium of partners.
- The single entity must meet the definition of eligible applicant.
- The applicant will be responsible for submitting eligible material during both the designation and funding application processes and will be the entity legally obligated to the terms of an agreement if awarded designation or funding.
- Partners and collaborating entities are not subject to the eligibility requirements but may be subject to financial and programmatic review during the selection process.
Eligible applicants must be one of the following types of entities. Entities who do not meet these requirements are not eligible to apply.
- Federally tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated and physically located in Iowa.
- Physical location is defined as maintaining a current home office and registered agent address in Iowa defined by Iowa Code 490.501 as well as maintaining a primary staff presence physically located and working in Iowa.
- Unit of local, county or federally-recognized tribal government physically located in Iowa.
- Municipal agencies with 28E agreements physically located in Iowa.
The following types of entities are not eligible to apply.
- Unit of state or federal government
- For-profit or commercial entity
- Entities geographically located within a currently designated Iowa Great Place
- Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grantees who have an outstanding final report or who have been placed on a department funding moratorium
Online Application Submission
Applicants must submit applications via the Iowa Arts Council’s SlideRoom, an online application portal. Applications will not be accepted in any other format. Late, incomplete or ineligible applications will not be accepted. Applicants can access the current online application requirements at iowaartscouncil.slideroom.com. Applicants must create a login to view the full application requirements for the program. Applicants can visit help.liaisonedu.com for assistance related to the online submission.
Designation Review Process
Department Eligibility Review
Submitted applications are reviewed by staff for completion, eligibility and adherence to published funding priorities and guidelines. Applications are reviewed as submitted. Applicants will be reviewed as submitted; however, additional information requested by the program manager to clarify details of the application may be included as needed. Staff will also review an applicant’s record of compliance and good standing with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, State and Federal government. Applications or applicants determined by staff to be ineligible or incomplete will not move forward to panel review and are specifically denied any appeals process.
Competitive Panel Review
Eligible applications will be referred to a competitive review by a volunteer panel that will include Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board members. Applicants who submit an application may also be required to undergo a site visit by the Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board and Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs staff. Designation recommendations will be submitted by the Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board to the Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for consideration and approval. The applicant’s authorized official will receive designation notification. All decisions are final and may not be appealed due to dissatisfaction. Applicants may review the department appeals policy for information on grounds for appeal and the appeal process.