Towns and cities across the US had municipal elections yesterday. It was an exciting time. Some new members will be joining the Sigourney School Board, and an At-Large City Council position was up for write-in votes. Unofficial results show a tie, so we’ll see how that gets resolved when they canvass the votes.
This all got me thinking about ways for city councilors and others to demonstrate their community’s value. One way is through certifications and awards that can be earned by the town. Some of these are for the town as a whole, and others are for individuals.
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City Certifications and Awards
These are awards and certifications that can be given to a city or town, rather than individual.
Certified Industrial Development Site
What is it: This certifies that your industrial park is “development ready.” This means that you have gotten the paperwork needed to show that development can begin immediately and you can be connected to three-phase water, power, etc., in under a year.
Who awards it: Iowa Economic Development Authority
Why would you want it? When site locators are searching for places to put new factories or manufacturing, they’ll usually look to certified sites because they already have the documentation needed in place. You can learn more here.
Iowa Great Place
What is it: An Iowa Great Place is one that has a strong planning process, character, and has engaged in the kind of creative placemaking that gives a town strong cultural assets.
Who awards it: Iowa Cultural Affairs
Why would you want it? The 10-year designation gives you access to funding and technical assistance among other things. You can learn more on the Cultural Affairs website.
What is it: The Thriving Community designation is awarded to communities that are preparing for new employers and need housing to support them, among other things.
Who awards it: Jointly awarded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority
Why would you want it? Developers that build in Thriving Communities qualify for a range of tax credits (see here, PDF) which makes them attractive places for people to build new housing.
America in Bloom
What is it: America in Bloom awards communities that are making strides in greenery, floral impact, environmental stewardship and more. You can read about their 3-tiered system at this link.
Who awards it: America in Bloom
Why would you want it? Award winners have demonstrated progress in nearly 150 metrics of strong communities. The assessment alone is valuable, but the awards also come with national recognition and
Hometown Pride Communities
What is it: Part of Keep Iowa Beautiful, Hometown Pride Communities receive coaching in “an effort to assist and improve communities through a five-year coaching commitment.”
Who awards it: Keep Iowa Beautiful
Why would you want it? In addition to coaching, communities get access to grants and other resources to help them move forward on their strategic plan. You can learn more on their website.
All-America City Award
What is it: Fewer than 500 communities a year receive this award, which recognizes strong thriving communities that are breaking down barriers to civic participation.
Who awards it: National Civic League
Why would you want it? National recognition is a big one. They also note an increase in successful grants and awards among winners. You can read more on the National Civic League website.
Individual Certifications and Awards
Municipal Leader of the Year
What is it: Recognizing the best municipal leaders (mayors, city managers, etc.), this award is given out annually.
Who awards it: American City and Country
Why would you want it? This one is more of a goal for that civic leader to work towards. By knowing you have this as a goal you can be encouraged to make positive changes in your community.
Certified Iowa County Supervisor
What is it: After completing 2 years of courses you can be recognized as a Certified Iowa County Supervisor.
Who awards it: The Iowa State Association of Counties