2030 Visioning Plan Released: Johnson County Goes All In with Vision
Emerging from the pandemic is a vision for a shared future in Johnson County. That vision and plan, Better Together 2030, was released today by the partner organizations spearheading the initiative: the Iowa City Area Business Partnership, Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD), Think Iowa City, and the Iowa City Downtown District. Led by tri-chairs Angie Jordan, Banjo Knits Empowerment LLC, Dr. Barbara Wilson, President of the University of Iowa, and Kate Moreland, President of ICAD. Better Together 2030 sets forth guiding principles of how Johnson County communities will work together toward a shared future by outlining transformational projects in key priority focus areas.
“The stronger we collaborate, the more we’ll attract and keep talent,” said Dr. Wilson.
Emerging from Project Better Together, which arose to streamline communications during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted to further conversations of the social justice movement, Better Together 2030 builds on that momentum and broadened it toward the future. A visioning process was launched using three key objectives:
- Develop a clear, data-driven perspective of the region’s future that includes demographic, economic, technological, political, and environmental trends that affect how residents live, work, and learn.
- Include the voices of immigrants, BIPOC, children, and others whose voices are often missing at the decision-making table.
- Define clear priorities for the region’s future that are clear, shared, and ambitious.
In 2021 a steering committee was formed to guide the Better Together 2030 Visioning Process and hired NEXT Generation Consulting with futurist Rebecca Ryan to facilitate the work. The Steering Committee were liaisons to the communities in which they were known and trusted and succeeded in recruiting people to share their stories and ideas for the region’s future. The committee provided guidance, metrics, and insight on critical elements, including the trends affecting the region’s shared future. The trends included specific and measurable data from larger themes of Society, Technology, Economy, Environment, and Politics. These key trends were then analyzed in The Big Sort on October 15, 2021: a full-day, community-wide sensing activity with over 80 participants. This activity prioritized the trends.
Community members then shared their feedback through Community Circles and the “All Our Ideas” survey which allowed for dynamic and responsive feedback and gathered over 15,000 votes by 566 residents. All of this incredible time, effort, and work has now been put to paper with five high-level, yet fluid, focus areas and priorities:
- Champions of the Natural Environment
- Authentic, Vibrant Neighborhoods and Districts
- A Well-Connected Mobile Region
- A Thriving Inclusive Economic Ecosystem
- Re-Imagined Human and Social Services
To activate, track, and keep accountability over the plan, Cady Sinnwell Gerlach has been hired to serve as Executive Director of Better Together 2030. Gerlach, a local attorney who served as the Director of Strategic Operations at Shelter House since 2018, starts on August 1.
“I’m honored to lead this collaborative initiative in the community that I love and have chosen as home. This plan and its vision for a shared future will bring a positive impact to residents, future community members, and visitors alike, prioritizing critical focus areas that will expand our commitment to being a great place for all people to live, work, and play.”
The sponsors of the project include the cities of Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty, Johnson County, the Iowa City Community School District, University of Iowa, Community Foundation of Johnson County, United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties, the Iowa City Downtown District, ICAD, Iowa City Area Business Partnership, and Think Iowa City.
Additional information on the Better Together 2030 All In Vision Plan can be found at ICAreaTogether.com.