Congratulations! We are halfway through 2023.  Hard to believe that we are this far into summer already.  I would like to give a shout-out to our county and community partners and our SICOG staff for their vision and hard work on the projects being accomplished.  To give you an idea of the great things happening, our staff have assisted in just over $12 million of grant applications so far.  Of those applications, just under $3.5 million of those grants have been approved; $116,550 have been denied, and we are still waiting with fingers crossed on the rest.  Funding is financing a wide variety of projects from downtown revitalization projects to fire equipment, to trails and parks, to community water and sewer projects.  So far for this year, the return for each dollar invested in SICOG from City and County members is $26.76. Since 1972 when SICOG was created, the total return on investment for each dollar of membership is $94.08.  Just a reminder if you have a community project, we would love to assist you.  Go to our website and fill out the Project Request Form and email it to our office.  Someone will contact you to discuss more about the project and what we might be able to do to assist you.


Also, one of the grants awarded is a new housing rehabilitation program for families impacted by COVID.  We haven’t seen the exact program of work yet to see who will qualify.  I hope to have more to share in August. So watch this newsletter for more information.  A shout out to SICOG’s Kendra Comstock who works hard each month to share news and opportunities by producing this newsletter.  She just celebrated her 1-year work anniversary. 

As always, we are here to serve you.  Bring your ideas to the table and let us assist you in your  successes! Have a great rest of your summer.




Bicycle Safety

Ragbrai 2023 is almost here, in fact, this year will be the 50th Ride, making it “One L of a Ride.” Although the Ragbrai route does not run through the SICOG region, for the safety of all bicyclists and motorists, I urge anyone traveling through Iowa on July 22nd-29th to use extra caution.

You are probably seeing an increase in bicyclists on the roadways as the beautiful summer weather is finally upon us or bicyclists are just preparing for their great trek across the State of Iowa. Bicycle Safety should be practiced year around, here are some tips/reminders to help keep all motorists and bicyclists’ safe courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

  • Bicycles have a right to use Iowa’s roads.

  • Bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as motorists.


If you’re planning to drive on U.S. 169 from U.S. 34 in Lorimor, there’s a road closure that could slow down your trip.

Construction began on Thursday, June 1, and will continue until Friday, Aug. 25, weather permitting. Construction crews will work on removing the current bridge on U.S. 169 and replace it with a pipe and concrete paving. While the roadway is closed to traffic, motorists will follow a marked detour route using U.S. 34, and Union County roads P-53 and H-17.

As always, SICOG provides an un-exhaustive list of grants to generate ideas about possible projects and provide funding guidance. Grant funding sources are increasingly interested in creative solutions to problems and many are willing to support not just construction but also operations. If your community has a problem that outside funding might address, then please contact your SICOG office. We would be glad to help and can attend a local meeting at no cost to discuss the project or idea. There are many other sources, so if you have project, please contact us.

View a List of Grant Opportunities Here!

Governor Reynolds Announces Iowa Homeownership

Incubator Competition
June Proclaimed Homeownership Month in Iowa

Governor Reynolds today celebrated national homeownership month with the announcement of the opening of the second annual Iowa Homeownership Incubator competition. The Iowa Homeownership Incubator is a challenge to Iowa lending institutions and real estate professionals to think innovatively about advancing financial literacy around homeownership among all Iowans, with the winning idea receiving a $20,000 grant to help implement the initiative.

“Homeownership is one of the leading drivers of economic security and wealth creation for Iowans which is why we're pleased to announce the Iowa Homeownership Incubator to help drive innovation in this area,” said Governor Reynolds. “Iowa is already ranked among the top in the nation for first-time homebuyers and supporting financial literacy efforts will allow us to welcome many more Iowans home.”  


“Homeownership benefits Iowans, communities and businesses alike,” said Iowa Finance Authority and Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham. “The ability to affordably own a home is a key element to attracting and retaining our workforce but Iowans first must realize that homeownership may be within their reach, which is exactly what this incubator competition sets out to do.”


The Iowa Homeownership Incubator requires partnerships amongst a lending institution or real estate company and a community organization or business, and the winning pitch will be awarded $20,000 to educate Iowans about financial literacy as it relates to homeownership and assistance programs available to them, including IFA’s programs for low to moderate homebuyers. 


Proposals must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Aug. 1. Finalists will be determined by the Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Association of REALTORS® and will be invited to make their pitch to a panel of industry judges, who will determine the winner at the HousingIowa Conference in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 6. 


“It’s no secret that homeownership is good for Iowans and good for Iowa,” said Iowa Association of REALTORS® CEO Gavin Blair.  “We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas for moving financial literacy around homeownership forward so we can open the door to homeownership for many more Iowans.”


More information about the Iowa Homeownership Incubator, including submission guidelines is available on the Housing Iowa Conference Website.

Housing Iowa Conference

Vulnerable Road Users Grant Opportunity

The United States Department of Transportation is reaching out to members of a community planning organization or DOT partner who may be aware of a bicycle and/or pedestrian traffic safety issue in the area. The Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) can be a valuable resource.


Their mission is to identify traffic safety issues, and through partnerships with city, county, state, and local organizations, develop and implement strategies to reduce deaths and injuries on Iowa’s roadways.


GTSB is offering an opportunity to apply for a traffic safety grant for federal fiscal year 2024, from October 1, 2023 - September 30, 2024. The GTSB has reserved up to $250,000 for programs/projects targeting pedestrian and bicycle safety. If you have identified a vulnerable road user concern in your community or your organization already implements programs, US Department of Transportation would like to talk about a partnership supporting your efforts.


If your community is experiencing bicycle and/or pedestrian traffic safety challenges but you are unsure how to address this growing trend, please use the links below for effective countermeasure ideas. 


Strategies to Increase Pedestrian Safety

Strategies to Increase Bicyclist Safety

Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Micromobility Program Ideas


When you have a program idea and plan, contact Program Administrator Sheri Krohn who can be reached at 515-725-6128 or

Up Coming Conferences and Summits

  1. 2023 Downtown Conference, August 1-3, at the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Learn about the latest trends, acquire practical information and ideas, and learn strategies that are relevant to rural, mid-sized and urban downtown districts. Click here to register!

  2. Housing Iowa Conference, September 6-8, at the Cedar Rapids DoubleTree in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This event welcomes housing developers, property managers, financiers, lenders, Realtors, homeless and supportive services professionals, housing advocates, policy makers, community development professionals, community leaders and anyone interested in learning more about housing in Iowa. Click here to register!

  3. Des Moines Cybersecurity Conference, September 21, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa. Discover cutting edge security approaches, and how to manage risk in the workforce. Click here to register!

  4. Iowa Ideas 2023, October 12-13, and is a Virtual Conference. Iowa Ideas is an annual virtual conference designed to gather Iowans from all perspectives to explore, discuss and offer solutions on issues impacting the state. Click here to register!

  5. 2023 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! Summit, at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa. Learn from experts from across the state implementing 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! in schools, early care, out-of-school programs, health care clinics and communities. Sessions focus on how to adopt strategies that support the healthy choice as the easy choice and create policy, system and environmental changes within all sectors. Click here to register!

Rural Iowa Task Force 2023 Rural Revitalization Funding Opportunities

As outlined in the grant chart for this month, the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Rural Revitalization funding is now available for this year.  This funding is something all communities that want to grow and thrive should consider.  All applications are due via on August 30, 2023.  SICOG has experience with most of these programs.  Most of them are not too difficult to complete and all of them seek innovative solutions to local problems and challenges.

The following is a summary of this year’s funding options.  Contact SICOG to discuss further.

Details can be found at under the funding opportunities tab.

Greenfield Downtown Forum

Key Notes

 Last month our Regional Planner, Terry Niestadt, had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Downtown forum hosted by IEDA in Greenfield, Iowa. The forum was a great opportunity to learn about what makes small downtowns unique and how to leverage what they have for future improvements. It is essential that downtown and Main Street’s focus on what the community has to offer. Historic buildings, compact walkable settings, public spaces (streetscapes, green spaces), and community focused quality experiences are good strengths to look for in your downtown. Experience and community are big factors in bringing locals and non-locals to your downtown.

Factors such as signage, historic lighting, storefronts, and murals can make for good quality experiences. Good quality murals must have good craftsmanship and materials used, density of meaning, relevance, and a context or ethos. It must feel right in the city or location in which it is based. Good storefronts show transparency, which is important to attract visitors. If people can’t see what is in your storefront, they will most likely avoid your business. Signage, lighting, and transparent windows are good means of transparency. Historic light fixtures are good in moderation, but some cities purchase to much and have an excess amount. Streetlights can also make streets brighter and even block out storefronts. Main Streets should have a soft even glow. Downtown signage helps reinform what your cell phone already tells you and provides other information about your town. Signage that is specific and neat shows community pride. When you make decisions and do something for your downtown, your city will receive a lot of attention for it.

If your community is interested in making investments to your downtown areas, the link below provides funding options and opportunities for your downtown.

Iowa EDA Downtown Resource Center

SICOG Partnerships 2023

Interested in becoming a partner?! Call us today at (641) 782-8491 or go to the Partnership page on the SICOG website and fill out the form at the bottom of the page!

Partnership Page

SICOG Executive Board Minutes- June 6, 2023