As a student at Iowa State University studying event management, Maggie Rowden didn’t see herself living and working in Delaware County. The Fort Dodge native thought she’d follow her family to Missouri and work in Kansas City.
Instead, Rowden is living in Manchester and working in Edgewood where she is manager of the Edgewood Locker Event Center.
Rowden’s journey is exactly the kind of story Delaware County Economic Development (DCED) officials hope to hear more of through their Welcome Home campaign.
The campaign targets alumni of the three Delaware County School systems (West Delaware, Maquoketa Valley and Edgewood-Colesburg) through social media posts encouraging them to return to the area to work, live and play.
The campaign began in 2017, and according to DCED Economic Development Director, Donna Boss, officials hope it’s a way to address workforce needs as well as to bring back alumni who have moved.
“Our unemployment rate in Delaware County is 1.4 percent,” Boss explained. “Almost everyone who can work is employed. When we looked at different ideas for marketing the county, DCED thought we should do some additional opportunities targeting our alumni with social media posts targeting all three school districts.”
Delaware County Tourism Director, Caryssa O’Connell, said the campaign uses Instagram and Facebook to highlight the county. O’Connell said the posts focuses on opportunities in the county such as jobs, recreation, education and location.
“We want to make it easy for people to find out about jobs in the county,” O’Connell said. “We also include recreation, such as bigger events like Rhubarb on the River, the Delaware County Fair and the Edgewood Pro Rodeo.”
O’Connell said the posts on education focus not only on the quality of education in the county schools, but also the extra-curricular opportunities. “People can participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities and have success in them. Sometimes, in bigger schools, it’s not possible to be in multiple activities at once.”
O’Connell said the posts also remind alumni that Delaware County is within an hour of Dubuque, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, as well as within a day’s drive to major Midwest cities.
“We’ve kind of integrated the saying ‘we’re in the middle of everywhere,’” she said.
Those wishing to find the Instagram posts can go to Instagram.com/delcoeconomicdevelopment.
Rowden is engaged to Edgewood-Colesburg graduate, Jordan Sommers. The couple met in 2016. “I went to school with his cousin and we were introduced my senior year. After a year of dating, I moved up here.” She admits that before they met, she didn’t think she’d live here. Now, she says she loves living in Delaware County. The couple have a home in Manchester.
“It never crossed my mind I’d live here until I met Jordan,” she admitted, “but I’ve met a lot of great people here. We play in adult slow pitch and volleyball leagues.”
Rowden also knew Edgewood Locker co-owner, Payson Kerns from ISU. It was Kerns who called her letting her know about an opening as event manager at the locker.
With Sommers working as an electrician with Becker Electric, the young couple know they can be successful in the county. Rowden said the couple is happy knowing they will stay in the county.
Rowden and Sommers will have their wedding this fall at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Rowden said the location makes sense.
“Our life is here and we see ourselves staying here. This is where we want to celebrate our relationship. I’ve made friends here that I see myself being friends with the rest of my life. It’s the people here that make Delaware County.”