Keeping Small Towns Alive


Rural America plays a key role in the makeup of our great country.  It is the primary source for inexpensive and safe food, affordable energy, clean drinking water and outdoor recreation.  A major strength in these small communities is the tight-knit bond of the residents.  They pride themselves in creating a thriving place for families to live, work and play.

Rural communities, however, face some very real challenges.  Challenges that are sometimes difficult to identify and understand.

First Citizens Bank has their finger on the pulse of our rural communities in North Iowa.

They know the significance of keeping these communities alive.  More importantly, they want them to thrive.  That is why they are one of three major supporters of the Rural Economic Development Summit taking place on August 17, 2023, at the Mason City Arena.

“As a community bank, one of our core values is a commitment to improving the communities we serve,” said Jeff Gribben, President of First Citizens Bank.  “We are excited to bring in several experts to discuss successes and challenges in growing our communities, and believe this event is an excellent opportunity to bring together community and business leaders to learn and grow together.”

The Rural Economic Development Summit is for individuals passionate about the economic growth and future of small towns in North Iowa.  Here, we will learn and discuss the latest strategies and innovations in rural economics.  Attendees will be able to connect with experts and discover the successes and challenges in our rural communities.

The Summit’s focus for North Iowa is intended for the mutual benefit of all communities in the area.  This is for both big or small towns.  They will look at how the past has affected the present state of economic issues in the region, and how we can plan for a prosperous future.

One of the biggest issues we face in North Iowa is population retention.

How do we get young folks to stay in the area, come back to the area after college, or take a chance and move to this area from a larger city?

Jobs, schools, affordable housing, and quality of life are the answers at the top of that list!

Attendees at this conference will get the opportunity to listen to keynote speaker, Dr. David Kohl, discuss the importance of top-down rural economics.  By understanding our economy on a global scale (top), we can assess how to be successful on the local level.

The focus, however, is intended for the mutual benefit of the local economies that make up the North Iowa region, the region as a whole, and the larger economies to which the region belongs.  We will gain understanding of who we are to find our core values, and how we categorize our wealth.

People create wealth, and wealth attracts people.

By learning and growing together, we can elevate North Iowa to a new economic level.

To join us at the Rural Economic Development Summit on August 17, 2023 to discuss strategies for boosting economic growth in rural communities, you can reserve your free tickets here.

Agenda/Schedule for the day:

11:00am – Noon:  Boxed Lunch

Noon – 1:30pm: Dr. David Kohl

1:30pm – 2:00pm: Break

2:00pm – 2:45pm: Local Panel

  • Steve Schulz (NIACC)
  • Emily Schmitt (Sukup Manufacturing)
  • Dave Steffens (Norsemen)

2:45pm – 3:00pm: Break

3:00pm – 4:00pm: State Panel

  • Theresa Greenfield (USDA)
  • Debi Durham (IEDA)
  • Jeff Plagge (Iowa Division of Banking)

The Rural Economic Summit is sponsored by First Citizens Bank, The North Iowa Economic Development Corp, and North Iowa Area Community College.