Three Keys to Building a Model Community

October 5, 2020


Last month, Renee Riedel, Executive Director at Clarinda Economic Development Corp, sat across from me in my office, relieved to finally exhale after the successful conclusion of the Clarinda Housing Program’s strategic planning.   The foundation of a community is its residents. These are the people who come together for a good cause, support the small businesses in town and raise the next generation of citizens to follow suit. But what happens when your town doesn’t have the capacity to house the number of people who want to live in your great community?   It’s a question many otherwise vibrant Iowa communities are wrestling with today. Clarinda, Iowa, recently chose to tackle its housing shortage head-on. Throughout the city’s efforts, Bank Iowa has cheered them on through both financial and emotional support.   Renee wasn’t able to give away all of her trade secrets; she did, however, share three things she believes are critical to creating model Iowa towns, while also solving the now common housing shortage issue.   

1. Acquire Reliable Data

In a survey conducted in 2018, the city of Clarinda found that 60 percent of the people who worked in their community lived outside of Clarinda. The data from the survey lead Renee and her team to the conclusion that there weren’t enough housing opportunities for those who would receive the most benefit.

 2. Take Action

According to Renee, the most complex piece of the equation is taking action. She led the charge to create a housing program, which not only helps employers recruit people from out of state, but also encourages local residents to upgrade into a newer home. Those moves often free up “starter” homes for people looking to relocate to Clarinda.

3. Create Partnerships

Renee says an extremely important piece of the puzzle are finding partners who not only believe in your cause but can make it happen in your community. Whether that’s finding the right home builder who shares your vision or partnering with local organizations like community banks who are motivated to see your community not only grow but thrive.

These three key ingredients have shaped the Clarinda Housing Program; however, the methods can apply to a multitude of different projects. At Bank Iowa, we live and work in your community, which means we want your hometown to succeed just as much as you do. We want whatever dream you have to actually happen. Whether that’s working with you to solve a need in the community or lending a hand to support a cause that’s important to you, we’re here to work together in the place that we both call home.  

Nevada Richards is a Consumer and Mortgage Loan Officer for Bank Iowa, Iowa’s second largest family-owned financial institution. Her NMLS number is 1870717 and Bank Iowa’s company NMLS number is 673681. To learn more, visit Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.