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Iowa city looking to become 'Great'

Associated Press

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Many travelers entering the state form their first impressions of Iowa here along the Mississippi River, city officials have said in their bid to be chosen one of the state's "Great Places."

In a letter to state officials administering the program, Mayor Charlie Brooke referred to the city as "Iowa's front porch."

"I like the tag line -- 'Iowa's front porch,"' Susan Stearns, of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, told the city panel. "I would make that more prominent."

Iowa's "Great Places" initiative is meant to coordinate the resources of 18 state agencies to help cities or regions showcase their strengths and unique features.

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"A great place is something where, when you enter it, you know it. And, when you leave it, you know you've left," Stearns said.

Davenport city officials made their pitch to state officials on Tuesday, saying they would focus on parks, attractions, amenities, natural areas and historic sites on or near the city's riverfront. Their River Vision plan already calls for $100 million in improvements stretching along the riverfront.

"In a nutshell, we want to make our front porch more public," said panel member Tara Barney of DavenportOne, a local development group. "River Vision is at the heart of what we want to do."

Tens of thousands of people pass through Davenport every day and attend events at venues on its riverfront each year, Barney said.

The city also has proven its ability to leverage investment, she said. The city's River Renaissance downtown redevelopment effort, which included construction of the new Figge Arts Center, brought in $8 for every $1 put up by the state.

If Davenport wants to continue its bid to become one of Iowa's "Great Places," it must give notice by Sept. 1 that it intends to present a plan, Stearns said. So far, 145 Iowa communities have shown interest in the program.

Only three will be selected.

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