Iowa Lakes Corridor receives award for business retention and expansion effort

Iowa Lakes Corridor receives award for business retention and expansion effort Main Photo

3 May 2018

Press Release, Business Retention and Expansion

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI) honored economic development organizations from Ames, Ottumwa, Iowa Lakes Corridor, and West Central Iowa during the SMART Economic Development Conference held in Des Moines on May 2.

Sponsored by Blane, Canada Ltd and Smart Solutions Group, the PDI Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Awards Program recognizes the outstanding efforts of local and regional economic development initiatives in supporting growth and expansion of existing Iowa companies. Receiving an award for Single Project Success - Single/Smaller Community - Iowa Lakes Development Corporation and the GrapeTree Medical Staffing Company in Milford.

What’s a “grapetree”? A non-sequitur sprouted in the mind of a visionary entrepreneur has flowered into one of the nation’s fastest growing companies, “a 24/7 healthcare staffing firm that provides healthcare professionals to hospitals and nursing homes in the Midwest when facilities have staff leave or vacation.”

Launched by Dickinson County native Tim Kinnetz in the mid-1990s, GrapeTree now employs 2,500 healthcare professionals at 1,200 facilities across the Midwest. The company ranked No. 664 on the Inc. 5000 list in 2017, with 618 percent growth in revenues of $35.5 million

In 2017, GrapeTree announced the acquisition and planned conversion of a Milford convention center into a new corporate office. The project, which will cost an estimated $12 million, will enable the company to add up to 200 new administrative jobs.

The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, Iowa Lakes Community College and the City of Milford have been constant partners with GrapeTree throughout the company’s growth. As a committed participant in the BEST of Iowa business retention program, the Corridor has interviewed GrapeTree’s leadership team multiple times. These meetings enabled GrapeTree to access local economic development services, including professional development training.

GrapeTree’s leaders also turned to the Corridor for real estate assistance when growth made their first and then second offices unworkable. City of Milford officials have led the complex infrastructure and incentive package associated with the convention center conversion.

Iowa Lakes Community College assisted GrapeTree Medical Staffing in utilizing the 260F Iowa Jobs Training Program to advance the skills of its workforce and also to hire student interns. GrapeTree returns the favor to local education by funding scholarships and working directly with students.

In late 2017, GrapeTree Medical Staffing recapitalized via a partnership with New MainStream Capital of New York and also welcomed in a new CEO, Steve Heeg. Work is underway on the convention center conversion. As a first step, the company donated iconic rides from the early days of Arnolds Park Amusement Park that had been displayed in the convention center back to the amusement park for the enjoyment of future generations.

“Supporting Iowa’s existing industry is a key priority for PDI’s membership,” stated Carla Eysink, PDI President. “The BRE Awards are intended to increase the focus on fostering Iowa business growth by economic development organizations and spotlight BRE programs and projects that have made a significant impact on Iowa communities.”

Founded in 1973, with current membership of over 320, PDI is an organization dedicated to advancing the professionalism of its members through a wide range of programs and services. As an association, PDI provides professional training that helps its members do a better job for their community. PDI creates an atmosphere of support and offers an instant network of seasoned experts for local professionals to seek advice and support.

Learn more about PDI at, and

Photo: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lieut. Gov. Adam Gregg presented the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation and Iowa Lakes Community College with the Business Retention & Expansion Award in the single project category Wednesday at the SMART Conference in Des Moines for their work with GrapeTree Medical Staffing. The award honors outstanding support of a local business by economic development partners. Pictured from left are Gregg; Jolene Rogers of Iowa Lakes Community College; GrapeTree Medical Staffing Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kathy Fahy and CEO Steve Heeg; Reynolds; Kiley Miller of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation; and Joe Raso of Blane Canada, LTD., the award sponsor.