UNI’s planning and facilitation services help Iowa communities

UNI’s planning and facilitation services help Iowa communities


Since its inception in 1987, the University of Northern Iowa’s Institute for Decision Making (IDM) has prided itself on providing both urban and rural Iowa communities and their economic development organizations with customized planning and facilitation services designed to meet their changing needs. IDM’s recent work with the community of Emmetsburg is a prime example. 


In the fall of 2019, the City of Emmetsburg reached out to IDM about assisting with the development of a community-wide strategic plan that would be led by the City of Emmetsburg. As the proposed planning process was being discussed, the Emmetsburg Community School District (ECSD) and Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities (EMU) also shared their needs for new strategic plans for their organizations. 


IDM worked with the three organizations’ leadership to design and implement a shared process to gather critical stakeholder input, and engage key people to serve on a shared Planning Team. Using this process, IDM was able to assist the organizations gather broad input from the community, as well as detailed, organizational-level input that helped the Planning Team, its Work Groups and the EMU Board of Trustees developed the City of Emmetsburg Community-Wide Strategic Plan, the Emmetsburg Community School District Strategic Plan and the Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities Strategic Plan.


IDM Strategic Plan Organizations


According to Kim Kibbie, Emmetsburg City Manager “The strategic planning process with IDM created an opportunity for the City of Emmetsburg to work cooperatively with our municipal utility and school district to engage our citizens and develop broadly supported goals for the community.” 


Darren Hanna, Superintendent of Schools, Emmetsburg Community School District pointed out that the shared planning process has also helped to strengthen existing relationships between community organizations and create opportunities for new relationships. “ECSD is especially optimistic about the partnerships that are being formed through the joint planning process with the City of Emmetsburg.  We believe that this unique joint planning process has surfaced opportunities for us to work together as a community to do amazing things in our future in a far more collaborative model."


The ability and willingness of the three organizations, the Planning Team and IDM to be flexible and adaptive enabled Emmetsburg to successfully undertake this unique planning process. This is just one example of how UNI’s IDM serves Iowa’s communities and can help other communities with their planning needs.


IDM has a 34-year record of delivering tailored and innovative planning, technical assistance, applied research, and training to over 800 communities, economic development groups, chambers of commerce, state agencies/associations, convention and visitor bureaus, community planning groups and other similar not-for-profit organizations throughout Iowa and beyond. More information can be found here.