Stanton receives ‘Great Places’ title

Officials with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs have announced Stanton as an Iowa Great Place.

“The Stanton Community is honored to receive the Iowa Great Places Designation, and we look forward to working with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Stanton has always had amenities and people that make the community a great place to live, work, and play. We look forward to the opportunities that come with this designation,” said Jenna Ramsey, Stanton community development director.

“In recent years, Stanton residents have seen new and creative businesses spring up downtown, alongside iconic symbols of the community’s Swedish heritage. A new events center opened last year, and plans for adding public art are in the works,” read the press release.

Stanton and seven other Iowa communities will receive support through two creative placemaking programs that help regions attract investment, tourism and quality-of-life enhancements.

Indianola and Stanton were chosen as new Iowa Great Places. The Sixth Avenue Corridor in Des Moines and cultural and entertainment districts in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Elkader and Spencer were re-designated.

“It’s my pleasure to welcome these communities into the Iowa Great Places and Cultural and Entertainment District programs,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Now more than ever, these state investments will generate economic growth in rural and urban areas where Iowans have developed bold visions for the future and formed the plans and partnerships to make those visions a reality.”

Arts and culture are key components to community success, according to a recent report from the National Governors Association. The nationwide study showed, for example, that rural counties where arts- and design-driven businesses thrive tend to attract more workers and more vigorous economies.

“Right now, we know many Iowans are still getting back on their feet from the pandemic and the devastation caused by the recent windstorm,” Kramer said. “As Iowa communities rebound, programs like these offer hope and show how arts, culture and historic districts can make communities more resilient.”

The Iowa Great Places program recognizes communities that cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of their local places – neighborhoods, districts or regions – and make them attractive places to live and work. Those qualities include arts and culture, architecture, business incentives, the diversity of the community’s residents, historic assets, housing options and the natural environment. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs partners with leaders of the Iowa Great Places communities to build their visions for future development.

The department has invested nearly $21 million in a total of 44 designated Iowa Great Places since the program’s creation in 2006, leveraging local and private investment to drive economic growth. Funding for the program comes from the Iowa Legislature through an annual appropriation from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

Meanwhile, the Cultural & Entertainment District (CED) program designates areas that are already recognized as hubs of cultural activity through a concentration of arts facilities, creative businesses and gathering places. Iowa currently has 13 designated CEDs.

The Iowa Great Places and CED programs are administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

“The Iowa Great Places and CED programs help Iowans build upon those local qualities and attractions that create a real sense of place and identity, which ultimately drive tourism and economic development,” Iowa Arts Council Administrator David Schmitz said.

The Red Oak Express

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