Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs meets in Okoboji during Dickinson County 'drop-in'

5 Oct 2016

News Release

Tourism's impact on and importance to Dickinson County - and the rest of the Iowa Lakes Corridor region - is so massive that many local, regional and state entities must work hand-in-hand to ensure the industry's success.

On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs held a "drop-in" for Okoboji area and Dickinson County tourism organizations so that they could better understand what this area needs to keep our tourism a vibrant quality of the region.

Okoboji Tourism partnered with the Department of Cultural Affairs to coordinate the event.

Forming partnerships to help each other

“In state government in Des Moines, we always have to do a much better job from an outreach perspective of getting out of the capital city,” Mary Cownie, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs said Wednesday to a group of area organization and state entity representatives. “You can get on a call, but there’s nothing like, for instance, what we saw today (on a tour of Okoboji), to be able to see it firsthand. But I think, more importantly, the networking that occurred and will occur today.”

The group began the day with a tour of the Okoboji area and its many attractions. They then gathered at the Pearson Lakes Arts Center to discuss how the department - and other state resources - can help each entity.

“The goal today is for us to better understand what’s going on in this community and region, and what the state can do to support those needs – how we can continue to partner,” Cownie said. “Because that’s truly what we are.”

Tourism as a driver for population growth

Iowa Lakes Corridor President and CEO, Kiley Miller, began a panel discussion by highlighting the importance of tourism to the area.

"You don't have to be too observant to see what tourism is to (Dickinson County), he said. "It is a benevolent giant."

Tourism sites, Miller said, aren't just for the tourists, though. The amenities the tourists enjoy are the same ones enjoyed by permanent residents -- something the region needs desperately, Miller said.

From that perspective, tourism is a way of inviting people who may consider to move to the area, which lends itself directly to the Corridor's 5x5 Campaign. The 5x5 Campaign is an initiative to increase the population of the four-county region (Dickinson, Emmet, Clay and Buena Vista counties) by 5 percent in 5 years.

"The reason why this is going to work is beacause (this area) is already a great place to be," Miller said. "People want to be here."

After Miller finished, representatves from businesses and organizations discussed how the Department of Cultural Affairs could help them receive needed funds, establish partnerships and utilize other resources.

Drop-in participants

Area businesses and organizations present were:

  • Boji Bay Fun House and Pavilion
  • Dickinson County Conservation Board
  • Dickinson County Trails Board
  • Historic Arnolds Park Incorporated
  • Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation
  • Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association
  • Okoboji Summer Theatre
  • Okoboji Tourism
  • Pearson Lakes Arts Center

State entities present were:

  • Iowa Arts Council
  • Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Iowa Economic Development Authority
  • Iowa State University
  • State Historic Sites
  • State Historical Society of Iowa
  • US Department of Agriculture