© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State program highlights Iowa's Great Places

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Learn about three Iowa towns and how they're trying to better understand themselves and make a path for their future.

While trends of growing metros and shrinking rural communities are seen nationally, Iowa was hit particularly hard. Between 2010 and 2020, Iowa's four largest counties saw 80 percent of the population growth, according to the 2020 Census. Meanwhile, 68 of Iowa's 99 counties lost population. There is no one solution to this trend.

But, one effort led by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is the Iowa Great Places program which seeks to cultivate what makes participating towns unique, to grow those qualities and use them to create great places to live, work and visit.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with the director of the department about how this program aims to buck the trends. We then hear from representatives of Marshalltown, Manning and Mason City about how their towns ran with the program.


  • Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Dept. Of Cultural Affairs
  • Michelle Sponheimer, housing and community development director for Marshalltown
  • Dawn Meyer, city administrator and clerk of Manning
  • Robin Anderson, president and CEO of Mason City Area Chamber of Commerce
Stay Connected
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa