Experience Jefferson

A new website has been launched by Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community called Experience Jefferson (website can be accessed at www.experiencejeffersoniowa.com). This website was developed through a Rural Return Grant awarded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority in February 2022. The Rural Return Grant was introduced through the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative, this grant program seeks to support creative programming that attracts new residents to move and/or work in rural communities. The grant awarded to Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community was in the amount of $20,000 and consisted of hiring a locally contracted marketing specialist and working with the company Chatterkick, a creative social media agency, to develop a visually appealing way to market what Jefferson has to offer. In February, Abby McConnell, a local Jefferson resident, accepted the contracted position and created a committee to help move the project forward. This Rural Return Initiative Committee consists of Peg Raney, Jamie Daubendiek, Beth Vander Wilt, Jacque Andrew, Allison Karber, Gabe Karber, and Laura Taggart. “When the project kicked off we immediately started to brainstorm the best ways to showcase what Jefferson has to offer. We knew based on a research study done by Chatterkick in 2019, that Jefferson lacked a digitally appealing presence to engage non-residents to come to visit and move here. We also knew from this study that people were 8 times more likely to search for Jefferson through search engines than Greene County. But all of us agreed that Greene County as a whole has so much to offer. So how do you take this information and create something that is inclusive but reaches the right target audience and also establishes a very engaging digital platform that makes people want to visit and move here? The answer,” McConnell states, “was creating Experience Jefferson.” The Experience Jefferson website provides a platform to showcase what Jefferson and Greene County have to offer in one place. It is engaging to look through and provides a little taste of what it would be like to visit or become a Jefferson resident. The site gives you enough information to be informed and engaged but leaves you wanting more. “The goal of the site is to grab the attention of those interested in potentially moving to a rural community and excite them enough to put Jefferson on their list as an option. There is a huge movement right now in the growth of rural communities after Covid due to people realizing that rural living can provide individuals and families more space, embraces entrepreneurial opportunities, and allows the ability to take advantage of a lower cost of living. The timing of this project is perfect to capitalize on the opportunity of growth in rural living,” McConnell says. The committee is asking for your help in spreading the word about the website. McConnell states, “As a committee of 8 our reach only goes so far. If the community can help us share this website via social media platforms, start up conversations with prior residents who will be back for Bell Tower Festival, and spread the word that Jefferson is a progressive community that should be a contender on anyone’s moving list. It won’t only help grow Jefferson, it will also help grow Greene County.” McConnell also mentioned that this website is not stagnant. She is excited to be able to continue to add new and additional businesses, programs, attractions, events, and so much more to the site as the community continues to grow. The website is a large portion of the grant project’s focus but is not the only avenue they are taking to gain people’s interest. Social media platforms have also been created to help provide strategic marketing efforts, with a hashtag campaign of #experiencejefferson to help showcase how people experience Jefferson and pique outsiders’ interest. McConnell states, “The hashtag is easy to use. Maybe you are enjoying family time at the park, attending an event, capturing the beautiful landscape of Greene County, you name it. When you post your picture on social media and put #experiencejefferson you are helping to provide a collection of pictures on a digital platform that could potentially draw someone’s interest to move here.” The committee also plans to draw attention to what they are doing with a fun activity during Bell Tower Festival that both residents and non-residents can enjoy, be sure to watch for more information. In addition to the Experience Jefferson project, the Rural Return Grant has also brought amazing opportunities through its sister project the Jefferson Wants You Incentive Fund Program which was launched in mid-May. “The Jefferson Wants You Incentive Fund is designed for two purposes,” Peg Raney, Economic Vitality chairperson said. “One is to attract new small businesses to Jefferson that have a positive impact on the community. The other is to attract remote workers to move to Greene County.” The extended impact of this incentive program was made possible by partnering with Jefferson Telecom, Home State Bank, Heartland Bank, Peoples Bank, Alliant Energy and includes funding from Grow Greene County. New small businesses located in Jefferson may apply for a maximum of $5,000 for specific one-time start-up costs to launch a new business or transition a current business. Entrepreneurship is valued here, and Jefferson wants to welcome small businesses to our current mix. There are gaps in the community for retail and services, so this funding opportunity may encourage someone to return to the community with a business plan. On-going and administrative expenses are not eligible. New or relocating remote workers planning to reside in Greene County can apply for a year’s membership for a floating desk at Gravitate Coworking in downtown Jefferson. Current remote workers may also apply for this membership. Conditions include that workers would utilize this coworking space for at least 3 days/week. For more information on the Jefferson Wants You Incentive Fund Program visit www.jeffersonmatters.org and click the resource tab. We encourage everyone to check out the Experience Jefferson website at www.experiencejeffersoniowa.com!

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May 2024

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  • Java & Juice Jefferson Matters at TJ Gardens
  • Starting Block Party
  • Barbie Java & Juice at Historical Museum
  • Java & Juice at Greene County Medical Center
  • Java & Juice to celebrate the new recycling program at City Hall
  • Java & Juice Bell Tower Festival Team - at Welcome Center