Cedar Valley's Win: Grow Cedar Valley Takes Home Iowa Tourism People's Choice Award for Live the Valley Selfie Mural

posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 in Grow Cedar Valley

Grow Cedar Valley's recent win of the Iowa Tourism People's Choice Award for the Live the Valley Selfie Mural marks a significant achievement in creativity and community engagement. This recognition not only applauds Grow Cedar Valley's innovative approach but also underscores the profound impact of artistic initiatives on economic growth and talent attraction in the Cedar Valley.

Grow Cedar Valley Iowa

The Significance of Creative Placemaking and Workforce Attraction

Selfie Mural visionary, Director of Marketing and Communications at GCV Nicole Sallis, recognizes the pivotal role of creative placemaking and out-of-the-box marketing in showcasing the Cedar Valley's unique appeal to attract a vibrant workforce. "With the nation facing a workforce crisis, it's imperative for regions like the Cedar Valley to stand out among the competition." Nicole's return to the Cedar Valley after two decades in New York City brings a fresh perspective and insight into leveraging art and marketing to create brand awareness to attract talent.

Speaking on the occasion, Staci Hupp Ballard, IEDA Chief Strategic Communications Officer, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, "Iowa needs more people to fill our great jobs, and the state is well-positioned to reap the benefits of intentional talent attraction efforts such as Live the Valley. The Cedar Valley and other regions have what top talent are looking for, from beautiful landscapes and vibrant cities to unmatched quality of life, including friendly communities and a low cost of living."

A Testament to Innovation and Community Engagement

The Live the Valley Selfie Mural project, a collaboration between Grow Cedar Valley (GCV) and My Waterloo Days hosted Experience Waterloo, exemplifies this commitment to creativity and community collaboration. Festival attendees engaged with Live the Valley Selfie Stations and witnessed internationally renowned artist Paco create a captivating mural, showcasing the Cedar Valley's diversity and vibrancy. The resulting photo mosaic mural celebrates community collaboration and symbolizes the region's diversity and artistic excellence. The final Live the Valley Selfie Mural will be unveiled to the public at the new Experience Waterloo Office located 716 Commercial St, Waterloo, IA 50701 in May of 2024.  

The Importance of Economic Development and Creative Placemaking

Both outgoing CEO of GCV Cary Darrah and incoming CEO of GCV Katy Susong emphasize the critical role of economic development (ED) in boosting community well-being and growth. Cary says, "ED initiatives, including creative placemaking, provide vital support for attracting businesses, retaining talent, and fostering community pride and engagement." Katy further highlights the significance of creative placemaking and talent attraction for organizations like Grow Cedar Valley, "This not only attracts businesses and talent but also helps in retaining them by creating an environment that prioritizes cultural richness and opportunities for artistic expression."

Boosting Community Attraction and Economic Prosperity

Mayor Hart (Waterloo) and Mayor Laudick (Cedar Falls) underscore the transformative role of public art and creative placemaking in shaping community perception and driving economic development. Mayor Hart says, “Creative Placemaking harnesses the power of arts and culture to transform communities, making them more vibrant, inclusive, and economically prosperous. By leveraging creativity and collaboration, Creative Placemaking can create lasting positive impacts that benefit residents, businesses, and visitors alike.” Mayor Laudick adds, "In a time when businesses and individuals are increasingly mobile, moving to places where people are excited to live, public art and creative placemaking can make all the difference."

As Grow Cedar Valley celebrates its victory in securing the Iowa Tourism People's Choice Award, the Cedar Valley community can take pride in its collective efforts to showcase its unique identity. Through creative placemaking, Grow Cedar Valley is not only looking to attract talent but also fostering a sense of belonging among residents. As the Live the Valley initiative continues, the Cedar Valley's artistic triumph serves as an inspiration for communities across Iowa and beyond.

For more information on Placemaking in the Cedar Valley, visit: Shaping the Future: The Role of Placemaking in the Cedar Valley