People think of Muscatine for its historic pearl button industry and for housing major companies, such as HNI and Kent. After the Iowa Business Council’s (IBC’s) Vision to Vitality Community Forum on September 11th, from 4-5:30 pm at the Merrill Hotel, people will associate it with one more thing, collaboration.
The IBC consists of twenty-three of Iowa’s largest companies and works to gather and use data to promote economic growth across the state. To support their mission, they developed the Vision to Vitality forum series, which executive director Georgia Van Gundy describes as opportunities, “to go into our local communities and to have conversations, but to also hear from [the communities] what their barriers are to economic growth, and also what they are doing really well that we can then highlight around the state.”
This second motive particularly influenced the IBC to bring Vision to Vitality to Muscatine. Van Gundy explains, “what needs to happen around the state that’s happening well in Muscatine is a grassroots effort — from businesses and other leaders within the community, is to look at the issues at hand from a collaborative perspective,” citing Align Impact Muscatine’s (AIM’s) success to bring positive changes to Muscatine.
The Vision to Vitality Forum will begin with an introduction to the IBC, followed by a panel discussion with Gary Carlson, Rich Dwyer, Greg Jenkins, Dr. Jerry Riibe, and Van Gundy. Anyone may attend the forum, and Carlson encourages residents to do so, stating, “we want more input from the citizens in Muscatine,” relating to affordable housing, job training, and similar issues. Ultimately, the group hopes to foster positive change from the discussion that Muscatine and other cities in Iowa can benefit from. Dwyer feels the greatest gain from the forum derives from this opportunity, saying, “Muscatine has been very famous for that — but we can’t just sit back and let [change] happen We need to make it happen every step of the way.” With a panel of recognized community leaders and the ready participation of Muscatine’s residents, the forum will surely answer Dwyer’s call to action.