Iowa Rural Development Summit 2021 opens registration

Registration is open for the fifth annual Iowa Rural Summit, to be held August 18-20 at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center on the campus of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

Past gatherings of leaders from Iowa rural communities have drawn crowds of almost 400 and organizers say in a release that they’re hoping a larger venue, in a post-pandemic setting, will lure a record crowd.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Rural Summit was held virtually. Now that the 2021 event will be held in person, rural communities are once again being asked to bring a three-person team to the Summit, an approach that has helped generate consensus and momentum in those places that were represented. Three-person community teams can go online and register, as can interested individuals.

Rural Community registration link HERE

Individual registration link HERE

The Summit is sponsored by the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC), a public-private state non-profit that works to support small towns addressing issues such as housing, broadband access, business development and leadership.

“We are excited to gather on the campus of an Iowa community college for the 2021 Summit,” said IRDC Chair Mark Reinig. “Community colleges are key partners for rural communities, small and large businesses, and our next generation of workers. Kirkwood will give us a venue to see this work first-hand.”

The 2021 Rural Summit will feature keynote addresses from two well-known Iowa speakers. Former state representative Helen Miller will talk about her perspective as a Black Iowan and the importance of rural places that are open, inclusive and diverse. Cedar Falls business owner and former Saturday Night Live cast member Gary Kroeger will describe his journey that led him back to his hometown and the assets rural communities can boast.

“Helen and Gary provide great bookends to the Summit,” Reinig said. “But in between, we will have sessions on issues ranging from public infrastructure to arts-based development to the important role of agriculture in our small towns. Our break-out session tracks are Facilities and Projects, Critical Issues and Facing the Future – and the content will be of use to anyone who lives in rural Iowa.”