Downtown development in Muscatine will be the focus of four downtown revitalization specialists from the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Downtown Resource Center this week as they tour the city and meet with residents and business owners.

The City of Muscatine and the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry have teamed up to coordinate the Downtown Assessment scheduled now through Thursday, a news release says. The assessment is an intense, on-site study of the downtown, including a public presentation at the end of the visit and a written report that will help the planning efforts of the City of Muscatine.

A public meeting will be held at noon Thursday at Musser Public Library. Everyone is welcome to the presentation and to ask questions of the assessment team.

“The assessment visit is a great way for a community to take a step back and get honest feedback from a qualified group of downtown professionals,” said Jim Engle, director of the Iowa Downtown Resource Center. “The five-person team will highlight the downtown’s strengths and challenges, and will offer some practical recommendations that the community can implement over time.”

Muscatine’s assessment team consists of:

  • Carol Lilly, downtown development specialist, Iowa Downtown Resource Center, IEDA
  • Jim Thompson, downtown economic development specialist, Iowa Downtown Resource Center, IEDA
  • Jeff Geerts, special projects manager, IEDA
  • Tim Reinders, design consultant
  • Dennis Reynolds, Reynolds Design.

All four of the IEDA downtown revitalization specialists have worked extensively in all sizes of communities in the Midwest with an emphasis on downtown development. Many communities in Iowa have taken advantage of this service and then went on to execute successful plans and projects. Issues such as downtown aesthetics, business mix and development, organizational refinement, promotion calendars, and building rehabilitation are common themes for the downtown assessment visits.

The service started earlier this month with a short pre-visit, and an on-line survey completed by more than 200 residents. While on-site, the team will tour the community and the downtown, hold a public meeting and interview a number of local businesses owners, residents and community groups.

“The visit is always most successful when we have excellent community input,” Engle said. “We encourage Muscatine residents to get involved with the visit in some way. Meet with the assessment team. Attend the public meeting. We encourage you to think about your downtown and come ready to participate.”