Business

Mark Nolte to leave Iowa City Area Development Group, may run for governor

#x201c;We put this area on the map so people around the country know Iowa City is here, it's vibrant, it's growing,#x201
“We put this area on the map so people around the country know Iowa City is here, it’s vibrant, it’s growing,” says Mark Nolte, seen with Doug Neumann, CEO of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, during an Iowa Ideas discussion at Hotel Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids in 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Iowa City Area Development Group President Mark Nolte will leave the economic-development organization in early 2020 to take a new position in the solar industry and to explore a possible run for governor in 2022.

Nolte, 44, said Wednesday he will be joining Moxie Solar of North Liberty in an effort to explore efforts to assemble solar panels in Iowa. Nolte’s last day with ICAD will be Jan. 17.

Vice President Kate Moreland will serve as interim president, ICAD said in a news release.

Nolte has been president of ICAD since February 2013 and has been with the organization since 2007. He previously served as ICAD’s business development director.

Nolte said he is proud of the growth of the Iowa City area’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in his time with ICAD.

“We put this area on the map so people around the country know Iowa City is here, it’s vibrant, it’s growing,” he said. “It’s been an honor to be in this role. It’s just time for me to explore some other things.

“I know the team (at ICAD) is in great shape. They’ve got a great staff here ... I think ICAD is in a great position to continue innovating and growing.”

During his tenure at ICAD, Nolte headed the work to open three co-working spaces in the Iowa City area — MERGE, North Liberty CoLab, and CoWork @ 808, ICAD said in the release.

He also has helped spearhead the creation of two seed funds for entrepreneurs in Johnson County and has helped debut Iowa’s new Education Technology initiative with the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

“Mark has been such an instrumental piece of ICAD for the past 13 years, and we are sad to see him go,” said Shari DeMaris, chairwoman of ICAD’s board of directors. DeMaris. “However, we are excited that he will be staying in our community, helping grow Moxie Solar.”

As for a run for governor as a Democrat, Nolte said that’s something he has been mulling “on and off for a long time.” He lamented how “negative and ugly” politics have become.

“It’s about people and ideas, not beating up everyone else,” he said. “If we want to see a change in politics, we need good people who care about this state to stand up.”

However, those political efforts are “down the road” for now, Nolte said. His next priority is to “work my tail off for Moxie and try to create some new Iowa jobs in a growing industry.”

Nolte said his departure is not related to the case involving Sheri Jelinek, ICAD’s former officer manager who has said she plans to plead guilty to embezzling more than a half-million dollars from the organization.

“I think we’ve dealt with that situation and this has nothing to do with that,” he said.

Nolte said ICAD will launch its next five-year funding campaign next fall, and he wants the organization’s new leader to be on board and up to speed by that time.

A sendoff event for Nolte is planned for Jan. 17.

Nolte ran unsuccessfully for state House District 89 in 2006 against incumbent Sandra Greiner.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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