About the Conference

We all know the type—the classic college town—places that abound in the Midwest, often at large state universities like the University of Iowa. Besides the requisite college or university, there is a nearby commercial area—sometimes it is the community’s downtown—where students, faculty, staff, and alumni “hang out” in bars, coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and the like.

But things are changing. Some downtowns, including college towns, are becoming centers for coworking space in which business entrepreneurs occupy space to develop their ideas and the opportunity for networking with other small business startups. The result is new businesses that can make college towns centers of economic innovation. Similarly, college towns are also becoming cultural centers as startups like Film Scene or the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City foster cultural placemaking in which college towns become centers for the creation and enjoyment of the arts.

The stage is therefore set for a transformation of college towns from places of consumption to places of creativity and entrepreneurship.

The Midwest Creative College Town conference will feature business and cultural startup leaders from Iowa City and other Midwest college towns. Ideas to advance this transformation for both cities and universities will be discussed, along with the benefits of economic growth resulting from new businesses, technology startups, art galleries, musical venues and design centers. The rise of college towns as engines of economic and cultural transformation also has positive implications for state economic development. Come join us to find out how this is now happening in the Midwest.

Certification Maintenance (CM ) credits for those with AICP status are available for this conference. There will be four 90 minute sessions for a total of 6 hours of CM credits. A sign-up sheet for those interested will be available at each conference session.