Linc Kroeger, a well-known face in Greene County these days and an evangelist for the power of innovation to boost challenged rural cities in Iowa, says the arrival of Pillar Technology (now Accenture) in Jefferson is just the beginning of what he projects will be a digital job-spurred renaissance of a wide swath of the state.
Kroeger presented his vision for a new economic zone, one stretching from Carroll to Boone to Perry and known as the Lincoln Corridor, in Jefferson recently.
Greene County Development Corporation members and other economic advocates for the region celebrated the furious pace of recent growth and statewide attention during an annual banquet Sept. 18 at Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson. About 60 people attended the dinner.
“I don’t imagine there are any counties our size in the state that have had the type of economic development we’ve had,” said Joel Williams, vice president of the GCDC.
The meeting came just weeks after Accenture held a grand opening in Jefferson, an event that drew Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, and other dignitaries for nearly a full day of activities.
“It should uplift everybody,” Kroeger said. “Everybody should win.”
Kroeger is working to attract more jobs to the Lincoln Corridor. He says regionalism, the blending of strengths in Carroll and Jefferson, for example, make the corridor more attractive and viable for business development and expansion.
“Greene County and Carroll County are at the forefront,” Kroeger said.
The corridor includes roughly 50,000 people, and all communities are within at least a 50-minute drive from each, Kroeger said.
“Let’s create a community of communities called the Lincoln Corridor,” Kroeger said.
Zachary Mannheimer, a community planner with McClure Engineering Company and the lead consultant on much of Greene County’s recent economic development, said in an interview that housing and amenities, like the planned three-block project surrounding the old Greene County Middle School, will be essential for recruiting and retaining the talent companies like Accenture will need to sustain rural operations.
Nate Adams, who is with Principal Real Estate Investors but is involved in the project in a separate role at this point, noted in the GCDC dinner meeting that it would include 25 market-rate units.
“You guys have something special here,” said Adams, a Carroll County native. “I see it from Des Moines and Waukee.”
Adams said the three-block project, which could include a splash pad park area, trailhead and other features in addition to the apartment complex, could make a statement for Jefferson being at forefront of “rural revival.”
“We’re throwing a big idea out there,” he said. “It’s working. It’s coming together.”