Great Iowa Road Trip aims to revive small businesses, local economies

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Farm Forum

AMES, Iowa — This spring, the public is invited to participate in the Great Iowa Road Trip, a weekend event planned to help revive Iowa’s small businesses and small towns. This special event, scheduled for April 30 and May 1, will be a coordinated, mapped tour of open doors at businesses and attractions in southern Iowa.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has partnered with several community development organizations to organize the event, which is being coordinated by Diane Van Wyngarden, ISU Extension and Outreach tourism economic development specialist.

“This is an opportunity for people to help revive Iowa’s small businesses and towns, while discovering their new favorite places,” Van Wyngarden said in a news release. “We will provide a map to interesting stops, including small businesses, attractions and hidden gems. Who knew that revitalizing Iowa’s economy could be so much fun?”

The Great Iowa Road Trip route includes the communities of Pella, Monroe, Prairie City, New Sharon, Oskaloosa, Otley, Knoxville and rural Leighton. Businesses located within one mile of the route are invited to apply to participate. Local partners will review the applications and decide on participants based on whether appropriate pandemic-related safety measures are in place, and with the goal of providing an appropriate mix of retail, dining, lodging and attractions.

The deadline for businesses to apply is March 15 and the application is available online at There is no fee to apply. Businesses selected will be notified no later than March 22 and will be required to submit a signed contract and a $100 fee by March 26 to participate.

The event partnership includes the ISU Extension and Outreach offices in Jasper, Mahaska and Marion counties; the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce; the Mahaska Chamber and Development Group; Main Street Oskaloosa; Marion County Development; Visit Pella; and ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development. According to Van Wyngarden, the partner organizations are piloting the Great Iowa Road Trip to reconnect businesses and attractions that have reopened with customers who want to travel, but are uncertain whether destinations are open.

For more information, visit the event page on Facebook at or contact Diane Van Wyngarden at