Our partners


The Iowa Restaurant Association (IRA) is the professional association for the restaurant and retail beverage industry in Iowa. The IRA works to represent, promote, protect, educate, and advocate for the industry as a whole.

Expertise: Creation of rural restaurant business and marketing models

CO.STARTERS® helps communities build vibrant ecosystems by equipping them with the best tools and resources needed to support starters of all kinds. By providing the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn business ideas into action, they harness the power of a community to create a strong startup culture.

Expertise: Workforce Development programs, entrepreneurial business models and incentive programs

Just Place is a non-profit that broadcasts stories of overlooked and misrepresented communities where American ingenuity and innovation are in revival. Just Place amplifies the stories of that revival – happening in communities all across the country, and pushes the conversation further toward what’s needed to build better places.

Expertise: Rural storytelling, marketing, communications plans, and photography

PPM Consultants is an environmental and engineering consulting firm. PPM has extensive experience assisting local government and non-profit groups in identifying and preparing grant applications for redevelopment projects, master planning, and project planning.

Expertise: Brownfields redevelopment

Kading Properties, LLC is a family-owned property management company and has been serving clients since the mid-1970s. Their mission is to provide comfortable, safe, and affordable housing to our residents as well as have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

Expertise: Housing

Levi Architecture is a creative, full-service architecture firm focused on providing outstanding customer service, innovative, and sustainable design solutions with a team approach.

Expertise: Child Care expansion and business planning including proforma, program design, site evaluation, and building design. 

Individual Experts

Theo Ramsey

Co-Owner of Ramsey’s Grocery & Ace Hardware in Lenox, IA

Expertise: Rural grocery and small business ownership

Mike Lauer

Lead Engineer at Iowa Communications Network

Expertise: Broadband and high-speed internet

Geoff Wood

Founder of Gravitate Coworking in Des Moines, IA

Expertise: Co-Working spaces and networks

Steve Gilbert

Co-Founder/Owner of Rural Housing 360

Expertise: Rural Housing

Dan Levi

AIA Principal Architect with Levi Architecture in Cedar Falls, IA

Expertise: Full architecture design services, child care design

Mary Janssen

Consultant with Levi Architecture in Cedar Falls, IA

Expertise: Child Care Business planning and program building

Greg Wright

Executive Director of CREATE Portage County

Expertise: Rural public art and economic development plans

Kagan Coughlin

Co-Founder of Base Camp Coding Academy in Water Valley, MS

Expertise: Makerspace and program development

Rob Taylor

Owner of Honey Hill Event Center in Osceola, IA

Expertise: Rural distillery business models

Liz Lidgett

Owner of Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design in Des Moines, IA

Expertise: Public murals, art programs and curation