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.

Project Better Together Project Updates

Community Input:
Survey response data pulled from our June survey will help us create a new vision for the area that will ultimately shape future policy and actions.

Affordable Housing:
Strategic Doing Committees have begun work to help coordinate existing resources and develop new methods for addressing access and affordability or housing.

Black Lives Matter Demonstrations:
Members of the Project Better Together coalition worked to support peaceful protesting following the murder of George Floyd by providing support stations to protestors. Members also worked to clean graffiti from private businesses and met with organizers to advocate for peaceful protests without property damage.

Pop Up Service Centers:
The United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties, in collaboration with the Iowa City Community School District and their many partner agencies hosted CONNECT Pop Up events last week in North Liberty, Coralville and Iowa City to help people navigate housing assistance, food, internet access for students and a variety of other services available to support families.

BIPOC & Immigrant Business Grant Program:

A portion of the proceeds raised from the Holding Our Own Shop Local program are being reinvested through the Community Foundation of Johnson County to provide grants to BIPOC and Immigrant owned businesses impacted by COVID-19.


Social Justice:

The Project Better Together team continues to have discussions with community leaders, elected officials, and leaders of the Black community. We’ve conducted listening sessions and various webinars, and are participating in implicit bias training as well.

COVID-related Support:
We are currently working on opportunities to expand testing capacity locally and assisting with messaging for the 18-30 age group to encourage mask use

Holding Our Own Shop Local:
The highly successful shop local gift card program was launched in June and continues to build momentum. Community members are rewarded for spending with locally owned businesses with a FREE gift card.

Food Security:
The Food with Love Program was implemented as an immediate response to COVID-19, and efforts are now being made to expand ways to provide food resources to our most vulnerable, while also expanding the capacity for locally grown and sourced food. Two Strategic Doing groups are working simultaneously on these efforts.