Can’t-miss summer activities in Southeast Iowa

It may already feel like summer, but the official summer solstice kicks off on Monday. Thanks to some help from our friends at Travel Iowa, we compiled a list of a few can’t-miss activities to check out in Southeast Iowa this summer!

Bentonsport National Historic District

Located along the Des Moines River, Bentonsport National Historic District is home to artisans, antiques, jewelry, craft, and fudge shops in restored buildings from the 1840s. Enjoy the stunning architecture, shopping, and delicious eats (and even stay at the Bentonsport Village Bed and Breakfast) during your perfect summer weekend.

Blue Heron Eco Cruises

Travel down the Mississippi River on the Blue Heron, a 26-passenger pontoon that gives cruisers a chance to tour the backwaters, sloughs, and main channel. During the cruise, you’ll learn about the many different things that make up the ecologic puzzle of the river. Did we mention the cruises are free of charge? Call today to make your reservation!

Burlington Bees Baseball

What’s summer without baseball? The Burlington Bees, a single-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels has games all summer long! Check out the schedule here to see when they’re in town.

Clinton Area Showboat Theatre

Where else can you say you’ve experienced a musical on a historic boat? The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre performs your favorite musicals on the showboat, which was originally built in 1935! Click here for shows you can catch this summer.


With kids out of school for the summer, FunCity is the perfect place for them to burn off some energy. With an entertainment facility that features an indoor/outdoor waterpark, bowling, go-karts, arcade, and laser tag, there is no shortage of fun to be had!

Mississippi Paddleboat Cruises

Looking for a unique wedding, reception, or party idea? The Pearl Button Paddlewheel Riverboat sets the perfect stage for any event. The authentic three-deck paddleboat is available for rent from May to October. Book your event today!


Did we miss your favorite summer activity? Tell us what you like to do in Southeast Iowa in the summer and we’ll add it to the list!

Happy summer!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team

Bike Month: How cycling is improving Iowa communities

Bike Month

As many are aware, May is National Bike Month! This is a big deal to countless Iowans who love the beautiful trails that crisscross our state. Although Iowa may have a reputation of being flat, did you know it is also the World Capital of Trails?

Iowa boasts hundreds of trails all over the state, giving riders the opportunity to discover our state’s nature, rural landscapes, and welcoming communities. Whether you’re in the Des Moines area or near the rivers, you won’t have a problem finding a trail you’ll fall in love with.

If you’re new to the area or looking to explore a different trail, download the Iowa By Trail app! The app features Iowa’s 1,800 miles of trails, allowing you to travel the state by bike. The trails allow riders to understand the connection between communities, natural resources, and the economy while the app helps businesses communicate with travelers passing through. The app is the perfect opportunity for communities to showcase all they have to offer and potentially drive business to smaller towns.

Not only does Iowa have a plethora of trails to choose from, it also hosts RAGBRAI each year. RAGBRAI, an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state is the oldest, largest, and longest bicycle touring event in the world. Riders make a stop in eight “host” communities along the route.

Between the abundance of trails and RAGBRAI, many people travel through and to towns not normally frequented. The two-wheel traffic has added to the quality of life in towns along trails.

Iowa Bicycle Coalition, a local coalition that educates Iowans and helps to establish safe and enjoyable bicycle transportation and recreation networks throughout the state, was started in response to a senate file to ban bicycles from Iowa highways.

“Yep, they wanted us off the roads,” stated Mark Wyatt, executive director for Iowa Bicycle Coalition. Although they abandoned the bill on the senate floor after some opposition, Mark’s team decided to create an advocacy organization.

“Our first effort was to create the Iowa Bike Summit,” Mark explained. “It has become a conference to educate planners and city officials on how to become more bicycle friendly.”

A recent study done by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition revealed that the economic impact of recreational cyclists’ spending generated $364.8 million, directly and indirectly impacting the state of Iowa. 

As the weather heats up, there is no better way to enjoy the outdoors than to hop on your bike and enjoy all that Iowa’s trails have to offer! Click here for upcoming bicycling events.

See you on the trails!
Restoring Iowa Jobs Team

Community Members Work to Keep Earth Beautiful


Earth Day began as a grassroots effort on April 22, 1970, to educate people about the environment, and the day has continued to grow over the years. Created to celebrate the planet and raise awareness of the effects of pollution, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide every April 22 with rallies, conferences, and outdoor activities and projects. In 1990, the day went global, and 200 million people in 141 countries participated in the event, according to the Earth Day Network.

Why is Earth Day so important, you ask? It reminds people to think about the threats the planet faces and it takes everyone’s help to protect our environment. There are many ways you can help make the planet a cleaner and more beautiful place right in your community.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois are hosting an event called ‘Keep Burlington Beautiful’ this Saturday to support the environment and give back to the community. The event, which will be from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Port of Burlington, is the perfect opportunity to get out and help improve your community!

April 16 will mark the 16th year of the annual Keep Burlington Beautiful Citywide Cleanup. “The event is held every year in an effort to bring community members together, pick up trash, and celebrate Earth Day,” explained Kent Rector, environmental education and public relations manager for the Starr’s Cave Nature Center.

Volunteers will be assigned to clean designated areas, and will receive gloves and trash bags to aid in the removal of debris. The City of Burlington will also have trucks to help pick up bags of trash left at each location. Registration for the event begins at 8 a.m.

“Last year we had over 350 volunteers, the majority of which were Girl Scouts from the Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois council,” said Rector. “It’s always amazing to see just how much trash is collected from our roadways, riverbanks, and natural areas.”

On average, about five tons of trash is collected in as little as three hours. “Each year, we round up volunteers of all ages and head out, armed with trash bags, boots, and gloves, and every year we pick up more and more trash,” Rector said. “Where this trash comes from is beyond me.”

After a morning of hard work, volunteers are invited back to the Port for a complimentary lunch. Don’t miss out on door prizes and tree giveaways by the local Trees Forever chapter, as well as entertainment! Earth Day t-shirts will be available for five dollars.

Mark your calendar! Earth Day is Friday, April 22. How do you plan to clean up your community? Comment below!

Until Next Time,

Restoring Iowa Jobs Team


Celebrating National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

Today, March 29 is a day to celebrate all the hard-working small business owners and their achievements. Small businesses are important to any community and its essential for these businesses to grow and thrive in order to create jobs and culture in small communities across the state, and country.

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day began with Rick Segal whose parents first opened a hat shop called Ruth’s in Everette, Massachusetts on March 29, 1939. This store eventually grew into a specialty-clothing store for women spanning 10,000 square feet before it closed in 1997. Segal created the day to honor his parents’ hard work and success as a small business.

Without the owners behind mom and pop businesses, the United States would be much different. These small businesses are the foundation our country is built on and contribute to job growth and economic development. Did you know more than 90 percent of all business enterprises in the United States are family-owned or privately held?

The story is no different here in Iowa! Take the Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm for example. Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm is located in Southeast Iowa near Burlington and is owned by Henry and Barb Bohlen. The Bohlen family has owned the farm for about 25 years. The elk meat from their farm is served at a number of restaurants in the area, including The Drake and The Broadway Café, Bar and Grill. If you’re at Great Rivers Medical Center, stop by the cafeteria. They always have Wildlife elk meat on the menu!

Not from Southeast Iowa? No worries! You can find Wildlife elk meat in restaurants in Iowa City, Coralville, and Johnston, Iowa, as well as 20 convenience stores across the state. More of an online shopper? Order through their website here.

You can also purchase the elk meat at the farm. Don’t forget to get a tour while you’re there! They give about 10-12 major tours a year. Not only do you know that you’re purchasing natural elk meat, but you’re also supporting a local business, which brings money into the community, and in turn, enhances the economy.

Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns three times more money to your local economy than one spent at a chain. In celebration of the day, stop by your local mom and pop shop to buy your favorite sandwich, coffee, or clothing item, and know that you will be supporting not only their family but also your local community!

Is there a business you would like us to feature? Shoot us an email at

Until next time!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team



Celebrate Library Lovers Day: Recognizing Public Libraries’ Economic Impact

Did you know public libraries contribute to economic development and strengthen their community’s quality of life? There are 544 libraries in Iowa that serve a municipal population of 2,340,220.

In honor of Library Lovers Day, we wanted to highlight the benefits public libraries offer to their communities. Beyond providing books, public libraries create a sense of community, as well as provide access to technology, and are an important and dynamic part of the community’s learning infrastructure.

With the accessibility to public computers, Internet, and media products in public libraries, people can more easily run a small business, do research online, or search for and apply to jobs.

Public libraries across the state offer resources to better the community and in turn, often make an economic impact. Small business resources and training and technology programs at the library are lowering the barriers to learning. Researchers found that when libraries work with local and state agencies to provide business development workshops and research, market entry costs to prospective and existing small businesses are reduced and new jobs are created. 

Locally, the Burlington Public Library offers a variety of resources to benefit the community. For example, the library offers free resources and services, including a job center and research tools for job seekers, employers, and small business owners. With one-on-one assistance, the library is able to provide individuals with the technology and skills needed to compete in today’s job market.

Many public libraries also benefit from partnering with local businesses. In the fall of 2012, local musician William Elliot Whitmore and the Donnellson Public Library teamed up on a match-donation program. The donations from the event went to the library to fund renovations to the building. In coordination with this program, Iowa Fertilizer made a match donation for the ticket sales. This event was a huge success for the community, with more that $380,000 raised for the project to date.

Southeast Iowa is lucky to have multiple public libraries in the area working to better the community by providing resources to enhance the economy and job growth in the area. Click here to find a public library in your area.

Until Next Time!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team


Celebrate Small Business Saturday


Did you know for every $100 spent at a small business $68 stays in the local community?

Small Business Saturday first began on November 27, 2010 and its purpose was to encourage people across the country to support small, local businesses following the Black Friday hype associated with major retailers across the country. The day has continued as a tradition every Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday and last year an estimated $14.3 billion was spent at small businesses across the country.

While this day is important, it should not be just one day each year that people see the value in shopping at small businesses. Small businesses play a big part in providing jobs to the community and fuel the local, state, and national economy.

Southeast Iowa is home to many small businesses. We know they are great, but we suggest you check them out!

For the fitness guru – Bickel’s Cycling and Fitness

For the book worm – Burlington By The Book

For the coffee and pastry lover – The Apron 

For the fashionista – The Funky Cowgirl

These are just a few to get you started. To learn more about other small businesses throughout the Southeast Iowa region, check out the local main streets in the area including Fort Madison Main Street, Main Street Keokuk, Inc., Downtown Burlington, and Bloomfield Main Street.

Before start your holiday shopping this year, we hope that you re-think a visit to a large retailer and instead choose to shop local.

Until next time,
The Restoring Iowa Jobs team

Southeast Iowa – A great region to live, work, and raise a family

Southeast Iowa is on the rise with large companies like Siemens and Iowa Fertilizer investing in the regional economy. To accompany the many great job opportunities as a result of these companies, Southeast Iowa also offers its residents much more, making the region a great place to live, work, and raise a family.



Living in Southeast Iowa is made easy with a variety of housing options at affordable prices. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 73 percent of Lee County  residents are homeowners and according to the Lee County Economic Development Group, a majority of homes within the area cost anywhere between $50,000-$100,000.

In Burlington, a city of almost 40,000 in Des Moines County, the median home value is $92,901 and average rent stands around $400 a month. The Greater Burlington Partnership offers great resources for current or potential residents, including and a community reference guide.

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
The communities within Southeast Iowa offer numerous events year round for children, adults, and families to get out and have some fun! Whether it is visiting the Keokuk or Fort Madison art centers or shopping in Downtown Burlington and catching a movie at the 5&V Outdoor Cinema, there are a wide variety of options for fun within Southeast Iowa. Here are a few other attractions worth checking out throughout the year.

According to the Lee County Economic Development Group, the schools within the county boast a student to teacher ratio of 14 to 1 and a five percent higher graduation rate than the national average. Residents in and surrounding Southeast Iowa also have access to numerous higher education opportunities, including Southeastern Iowa Community College  and Iowa State University’s Extension Office in Donnellson, which provides research-based learning.

These are just a few of the many things that make the Southeast Iowa region stand out as a top place within the state, no matter your stage of life. We encourage you to take in all that the region has to offer and explore even further by checking out some great resources including the websites of the Lee County Economic Development Group and the Greater Burlington Partnership.

Until next time,

The Restoring Iowa Jobs team

America’s Small Business Development Centers – Iowa

By: Lisa Shimkat, State Director of America’s Small Business Development Center – Iowa

Lisa Shimkat, State Director of America's Small Business Development Center - Iowa

Lisa Shimkat, State Director of America’s Small Business Development Center – Iowa

Do you want to start a business, but do not know where to start?

Do you already have a business that you started a year ago and need help finding more customers so the business can grow?

Do you have an established business and are wondering what you will need to do to pass it on or sell it successfully to someone else?

These questions and many, many others are answered daily by the experienced advisers of America’s SBDC Iowa.

We provide no-fee, confidential, customized business counseling in all 99 Iowa counties to businesses that have up to 500 employees. That’s about 97% of the businesses in Iowa.

SBDC Photo 2

Our services are offered by our 15 regional business assistance centers, which are located strategically across Iowa. We can help with a variety of subjects, including:

  • Business planning
  • Financing opportunities
  • Market research
  • Loan applications
  • Exporting
  • Cash flow projections
  • Marketing planning and strategy
  • Growth and succession strategies
  • Business continuity planning

These are just some our services; there are many others.

SBDC Photo 1

We also conduct affordable workshops that teach practical skills and techniques, such as:

  • How to use QuickBooks
  • Recruiting, Retaining & Motivating Employees
  • How to Effectively Price your Product or Service

In addition to all of this, SBDC centers develop and maintain partnerships among Iowa business and community organizations as well as local, state and federal agencies. We are a focal point for public and private resources at the community level and encourage local business efforts, such as revolving loan funds. This is done to meet small business needs and grow and retain local businesses.

SBDC Photo 3

In our Southeastern SBDC, which is located in Burlington and covers Lee, Des Moines, Louisa and Henry counties, Janine Clover has been helping entrepreneurs and business owners for over 14 years. You will find Janine’s contact information and more at Southeastern SBDC.

To be able to offer our counseling services free, America’s SBDC Iowa is funded by the U. S. Small Business Administration and the State of Iowa. We also receive funding and assistance from most of Iowa’s community colleges and Iowa’s three public universities.

Call 515-294-2030 or visit to find the Small Business Development Center in your region for helpful advice or more information about our services. We have the knowledge and experience to help you and help you find the solutions you are needing.

Fall in Southeast Iowa

Fall in SE Iowa Photo

As the leaves begin to change and the weather cools, Southeast Iowa doesn’t begin to hibernate, but instead comes alive with numerous events and festivals perfect to keep kids, adults, and families busy throughout the fall and winter months. We’ve highlighted a few that you may want to mark on your calendars!

Another fall activity that’s a must is visiting an apple orchard and Southeast Iowa has one that is filled with more than just apples! Appleberry Orchard is located in Donnellson, Iowa and is owned and operated by Ryan and Jessica Welch. The two farm 22 acres of apple orchards, a petting farm, and a farm market filled with fresh fruits, jams, jellies, and bakery items. The orchard has something for everyone from the kids play area to Date Night at the Orchard, taking place on October 24.

Appleberry is considered the oldest working orchard in the state of Iowa, as the first apple tree was planted on the property in 1852! You can learn more about the orchard by visiting their website here.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events! 

October 23 and 24
Main Street Ghost Hunt in Fort Madison
Pre-Registration Required, $25.00 per person

October 30
Downtown Burlington Trick or Treat
4:00pm – 6:00pm

October 31
Begger’s Night in Fort Madison
5:00pm – 8:00pm

November 8
Holiday Open House
12:00pm – 4:00pm
Downtown Burlington

November 26
4th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trott 5K Run/Walk
8:45am – 11:00am
Burlington Golf Club
Register before November 6, 2015

November 28
Lighted Holiday Parade
5:00pm – 8:00pm
Downtown Burlington

December 10
Living Windows
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Downtown Burlington


Iowa Celebrates Manufacturing Day

National manufacturing day, also known as MFG Day, is a day that aims to address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers the opportunity to open their doors and showcase what manufacturing is – and what it isn’t. Manufacturing is just another element of technology that is moving our state forward. Iowa factories have added 6,900 jobs since 2010, an increase of 3.4 percent. Technological advancements and changes to the industry have transformed the way in which manufacturing work is performed and have created a demand for more middle-skilled workers. Although the official National Manufacturing Day was October 2, businesses and communities in Iowa are celebrating throughout the entire month of October.

Below are a few of manufacturing events worth checking out:

October 15, 2015 12:00pm – 1:00pm ISU Extension and Outreach will host a lunch and learn in Keosauqua, which will include a presentation of manufacturing technologies with a focus on additive manufacturing (3D printing) technology.

October 17, 2015 9:30am – 10:30am Will host a meeting with The Fairfield Economic Development Association and local companies to discuss tech-based innovation (with a focus on mfg) and how the ISU-CIRAS programs can assist organizations throughout the process.

October 28, 2015 5:00pm – 7:00pm Lee County Economic Development Group will be celebrating manufacturing in Fort Madison at the Annual Salute to Industry Summit. Don’t miss Manufacturing 101, a basic course that will help you develop the skills necessary to start a career in manufacturing. Enjoy appetizers and drinks while networking with professionals from key industries and elected officials from Lee County and Southeast Iowa.

 October 28, 2015 – October 29, 2015 Siemans will participate in Lee County Economic Development Group’s Salute to Industry Summit 2015. The facility will also host students enrolled in Wind Technician and Wind Blade Repair programs from Cloud Community College in Concordia, KS.

Many groups, including Center for Industrial Research and Service and Elevate Iowaare working to promote manufacturing in Iowa. Did you know manufacturing employs the most workers in Lee County with 18.4 percent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector in 2014? Additionally, 64 percent of workers employed in the manufacturing sector have training beyond high school.


Iowa manufacturing is continuing to grow and change the way we do business in Southeast Iowa. Many of the materials made in Iowa impact lives across the country. We’d love to hear which events you attend!

The Restoring Iowa Jobs Team