116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — A long-term visioning project focused on improving Johnson County has released its visioning plan for the next decade and hired an executive director to help guide it.
The plan from Better Together 2030 includes five focus areas along with 11 projects that prioritize a shared vision for area.
Better Together 2030 hired Cady Sinnwell Gerlach, a local lawyer who served as the director of strategic operations at Shelter House in Iowa City since 2018, who starts Aug. 1.
“I’m honored to lead this collaborative initiative in the community that I love and have chosen as home,” Gerlach said in a statement. “This plan and its vision for a shared future will bring positive impact to residents, future community members and visitors alike, prioritizing critical focus areas that will expand our commitment to be a great place for all people to live, work, and play.”
Better Together 2030 includes four groups — Iowa City Area Development Group, Iowa City Downtown District, Think Iowa City and Iowa City Area Business Partnership — along with leaders from local government, business, education and other areas of the county.
Last year, about 80 community leaders gathered to participate in an activity looking at 36 different trends — from categories of demographics, environmental, political, technology and economy — and discussing how likely they are to happen. The “Big Sort” activity showed Johnson County is more ready for the future than not, according to Rebecca Ryan, a futurist and economist working with leaders on the visioning process.
The community was then asked to express their thoughts on what’s important and what should be prioritized in the coming years. A total of 566 residents participated in the online brainstorming and voting game.
The work and input has been put together to form “All in Vision: Strategies for a 2030 shared future in Johnson County.” There are five focus areas: environment, neighborhoods and districts, well-connected mobile region, inclusive economic ecosystem and re-imagining social services.
In the environmental focus area, the two projects are making the Iowa River a signature attraction for residents and visitors, as well as deepening partnerships for sustainable environmental practices and clean, renewable energy.
Projects to focus on neighborhoods include empowering neighborhoods, supporting affordable housing and ensuring all neighborhoods have affordable child care.
The plan recommends prioritizing investing in a regional transit system and ensuring all residents have affordable high-speed internet to have a well-connected and mobile region.
For the economic focus area, there are three priorities: investing in creativity centers where people can live and work together, implementing an inclusive economic development plan and building a talent pipeline for future growth.
Using new models of problem solving — such as strategic doing — at the local level is a priority to re-imagine human and social services.
For more information about the work of Better Together 2030 and to view the plan, visit icareatogether.com/better-together-2030.
Comments: (319) 339-3155; firstname.lastname@example.org