Fostering Workforce Attraction and Retention through Creative Placemaking

posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in Grow Cedar Valley

Live the Valley isn't just another initiative; it's a commitment to enhancing our region's workforce and economic vitality. Spearheaded by Grow Cedar Valley and supported by the Cedar Valley Regional Partnership, our goal is to create a comprehensive platform dedicated to showcasing our region's exceptional quality of life and career opportunities.

live the valley selfie mural

As the Director of Marketing and Communications at Grow Cedar Valley (GCV), I understand the vital role of creative placemaking in spotlighting the Cedar Valley's unique appeal to potential talent. According to the American Planning Association (APA), creative placemaking involves utilizing arts and cultural strategies to implement community-led change. This approach is essential in enhancing vibrancy, improving economic conditions, and fostering community ownership. In today's workforce crisis, it's imperative for regions like ours to differentiate themselves not only from other states but also from cities within our state, such as Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. We need innovative strategies to attract talent.

The Live the Valley Selfie Mural project exemplifies how Grow Cedar Valley is standing out and highlighting community collaboration. Last year at the My Waterloo Days Festival, GCV and Experience Waterloo collaborated on Live the Valley Selfie Stations and a live painting show by Paco. Then, digitally combining the 2000 selfies with the art, we created what is now called the Live the Valley Selfie Mural, located at the new Experience Waterloo office (716 Commercial St, Waterloo, IA 50701). This project not only celebrates community collaboration but also symbolizes the Cedar Valley's diversity and artistic excellence.

Katy Susong, CEO of GCV, underscores the critical role of economic development initiatives like creative placemaking. “These initiatives attract and retain businesses and individuals because they reflect community culture. Investment in place making is indicative of community pride.” Mayors Hart and Laudick of Waterloo and Cedar Falls highlight the transformative power of public art and creative placemaking in shaping community perception and driving economic development. Mayor Hart believes that creative placemaking can make communities more vibrant, inclusive, and economically prosperous. Mayor Laudick adds that in a time when mobility is increasing, creative placemaking can make all the difference in attracting businesses and individuals to our region.

Addressing Workforce Crises: A Shared Responsibility

"Live the Valley" is our response to a pressing workforce crisis, going beyond mere marketing. This initiative plays a pivotal role in addressing the workforce shortage affecting our region. By showcasing the Cedar Valley's allure, we aim to attract skilled professionals essential for fortifying our community's economic foundation.

Our focus on showcasing the Cedar Valley's unique appeal and fostering an environment of innovation and growth isn't just about attracting top talent; it's also about retaining them. Through strategic collaborations and shared commitment, we can address the workforce crisis and build a stronger business community. By supporting "Live the Valley" and engaging in strategic collaborations, we can collectively elevate the Cedar Valley's visibility, attract more talent, and foster economic prosperity. 

Together, let's find ways to collaborate to harness the power of creative placemaking to create a region where people are excited to live, work, and GROW.

Also, grab a “Selfie Mural” Live the Valley T-Shirt and bags available until May 31st at

Nicole Sallis, CDMP

Director of Marketing and Communication