Innovation Council to Pinpoint Strategic Investment Opportunities

Posted April 10, 2024
Community Development Innovation Council April 2024

Last week marked the first gathering of the Community Development Innovation Council, one of three Innovation Councils that guide the strategy, direction, and work of Greater Iowa City, Inc. (Greater IC). Made up of investors in the Greater IC organization, these Innovation Councils are a collaborative endeavor between public and private sector leaders. The Community Development Innovation Council aims at propelling economic growth and enhancing community well-being across Johnson County.


Chaired by Lisa Shileny from Hills Bank, Nick Bergus from the City of North Liberty, and Jen Stull, also from Hills Bank, this council focuses on amplifying activity centers and commercial neighborhoods. By pinpointing strategic investment opportunities within core districts, the council aims to bolster community livability. These efforts will also nurture targeted workforce initiatives related to housing, transportation, and childcare.


For the inaugural meeting, the council met at Field Day Brewing to highlight the Centennial Park Pils, a brew created to support the Next Stage project in North Liberty. This beer was a collaborative, community-focused project between Field Day, the Community Foundation of Johnson County, and the City of North Liberty. It set the stage for the creative and collaborative approach of Greater IC’s community development work.


At the meeting, the Innovation Council discussed key opportunity areas, neighborhoods, data, and assets needed to fully develop three targeted opportunities in Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty. The council discussions and staff work will now dial in on the community amenities and assets that make up livable neighborhoods in Johnson County. The councils are discussing the following questions. What assets make a neighborhood walkable, livable, and accessible for all? What commercial and other activity centers meet the basic needs and desired amenities of each neighborhood, knowing this list is always changing and that each neighborhood may have a different definition for specific needs and assets? How do we accomplish this while ensuring each unique neighborhood does not lose its authenticity? Once those assets are identified, how do we ensure growth to meet future demands and needs with the existing smart planning principles and approaches of our cities?


Greater IC is committed to answering these key questions alongside our community members through Innovation Councils that use a data driven, inclusive, and informed approach. This will take each of us, working together to build communities where all can thrive. Like a rising tide lifting all boats, a stronger greater Iowa City area will lift us all.