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It’s a time-worn catchphrase, but it was emphasized repeatedly by Hiawatha Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO) officials at their annual meeting Sept. 1 — it takes a village to produce the kind of success Hiawatha has experienced in the past year. “Today is about celebrating all of you that are here today,” said outgoing Hiawatha City Manager Kim Downs, who served in her position for nine years before recently transitioning to assistant city manager in Marion. “We don’t do any of this without all of you. We don’t do any of this without our small businesses. We don’t do any of this without the support of our community.” Melissa White, chair of the HEDCO board of directors, led the meeting, which was hosted by the Stillwater Coffee Company. She noted that Hiawatha is home to 384 small businesses and that the city’s top 20 employers have a combined annual revenue of $464 million and employ about 1,500 local residents. “One of the statistics I thought was really cool is that small businesses that grow into large businesses often remain in the community in which their business was established,” said Ms. White, who founded Balanced Fitness & Health in 2015. “I know about starting a business, the grit, the resilience, the hard work, wondering if it’s going to succeed. That started for me in Hiawatha, and so I will always have a special place (in my heart) for the Hiawatha business community.” Over the past three years, the city of Hiawatha has added 236,194 square feet of commercial property and $57.7 million of new property valuation, according to HEDCO’s annual report. New construction valuation in 2021 alone totaled $29.6 million. New companies added to the city in the past fiscal year include Finish Tower, Ogden & Adams, Iowa Eye Care, Scooter’s Coffee, Apex Endodontics, and Hiawatha East offices and warehouse space. Perhaps the largest and most visible development in Hiawatha, the $1 million Village Center Plaza, opened in the summer of 2022, featuring an open public space with water features. Since its opening, the plaza has hosted food truck lunches, concerts and outdoor movies, as well as other public events. Two mixed-use developments are also in the works along Robins Road in Hiawatha including the 42-unit Village Center Apartments, slated to open this fall. The city is also working with several other local entities on the Tower Terrace Road interchange project along Interstate 380, which is expected to serve as a catalyst for growth in the northwest portion of Hiawatha. Several other housing developments are in the works, including Edgewood Village, which will include 130 single-family homes and 20 townhomes north of Tower Terrace Road; Todd Hills, featuring 71 single-family homes; Heritage Green, with 41 single-family homes; and Rolling Prairie Estates, which will add 85 single-family homes by 2024. Multi-family housing projects under way include Hub LLC, a four-building project that will include a total of 142 new units by 2025; Hodge Village Center, with 48 new units; The Crossing on Boyson, with 196 units by 2025; and Landover Corp. Senior Living, with 52 units on the way. Upcoming city projects include a second fire station at 1550 Stamy Road and the second remodeling phase of the city’s existing fire station at 60 10th Ave., totaling $7.2 million and funded through local-option tax revenues, and reconstruction of the Boyson Road interchange in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Transportation.