Project Better Together

Project Better Together aims to build a transformed future for our community with greater economic diversity, growth, inclusivity, resilience, and well-being for all. Led by The Iowa City Area Business Partnership, Iowa City Area Development Group, Think Iowa City, and the Iowa City Downtown District, this community-wide recovery effort includes leaders from the four partner organizations, all three hospitals, the school district, area non-profits, social services, private business, and elected officials from all levels of government.

To help drive the work it will take to achieve these goals, the four organizations announced the appointment of former President & CEO of the Iowa City Area Development Group, Mark Nolte, to serve as Director of Project Better Together. Under Nolte’s leadership and strong back-end support from the four partner organizations, Project Better Together will begin by working with the network to quickly identify an organizational framework that is inclusive, agile, and strategic.


Thanks to the support from Johnson County, MidWestOne Bank, West Bank, GreenState Credit Union, Great Western Bank, Hills Bank, Two Rivers Bank, U.S. Bank, CBI Bank and Trust, and other area partners, the Project Better Together team has created a community-wide Shop Local program to help encourage and motivate local spending at Johnson County local businesses. The Holding Our Own Shop Local program intends to motivate over $1,000,000 of local spending through showcasing and incentivizing dollars spent.

Shop Local Program

Starting June 22nd, for every $150 spent shopping local, receive a $20 gift card of YOUR choice to a local business. Plus an additional $5 will be automatically donated to the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Immigrant Business Grant Fund.

How it Works

Upload or send us your receipts (up to THREE) and you will receive an email with a unique confirmation code and instructions on how to redeem your $20 gift card. See the full details here.

Getting Clear on the Vision of a “Better” Johnson County, Iowa

Please take a moment to complete the survey below to provide input to our steering committee. We are working to translate the survey into multiple languages and will update them as they become available.

We need your ideas.

As we pull together as a community, we don’t just want to get back to “normal” we want to emerge stronger, better, more resilient. To do that we need to paint a clear picture of what “Better” looks like.

Necesitamos sus ideas.

Al unirnos como una comunidad no solo queremos volver a la ¨normalidad¨, queremos salir más fuertes, mejores, y más resistentes. Para hacer eso, necesitamos pintar una clara imagen de que es Mejor.

نحن بحاجة إلى أفكارك.

 بينما نتعاون معًا كمجتمع ، لا نريد فقط العودة إلى الوضع “الطبيعي” الذي نريد أن نظهر فيه أقوى وأفضل وأكثر مرونة. للقيام بذلك نحتاج إلى رسم صورة واضحة لما هو (الأفضل ).

The Project Better Together

Steering Committee


Brent Smith, Council Member (North Liberty)
Bruce Harreld, University of Iowa
Cady Gerlach, Shelter House + ICDD Board
David Barker, Board of Regents
David Kieft, University of Iowa
Dave Loebsack, US Representative – 2nd District
Ellen McCabe, Johnson County Housing Trust Fund
Geoff Fruin, City of Iowa City
Jim Conard, West Bank + ICABP Board
Josh Schamberger, Think Iowa City / CVB
Judith Johnson-Mekota, Iowa City VA Medical Center
Kate Moreland, Iowa City Area Development
Katie Knight, United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties
Kelly Hayworth, City of Coralville
Kim Casko, Iowa City Area Business Partnership
Mark Butland/Lori Sundberg, Kirkwood Community College




Janet Godwin, ACT
Matt Degner, Iowa City Community School District
Mitch Gross, Council Member (Coralville)
Nancy Bird, Iowa City Downtown District
Peter Matthes, University of Iowa
Rafael Morataya, Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa
Royceann Porter, Johnson County Board of Supervisors
Ryan Heiar, City of North Liberty
Sean Williams, Mercy Iowa City
Shanti Roundtree, Pearson + Think Iowa City Board
Shelly Maharry, Community Foundation of Johnson County
Suresh Gunasekaran, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
Susan Mims, Council Member (Iowa City)
Ying Sa, Community CPA + ICAD Investor
Zach Wahls, State Senators/Representatives

Join the Team

Do you have an idea that can improve how we do things as a community? Are you willing to pitch in and make that idea come to life? If so, we want you on our team! Fill out your name, email, and let us know how you’d like to get involved. We’ll be in touch soon.

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