Reinvest, Revitalize, Repeat:  Exploring Community Investment Strategies for Manning and Webster City


The Clients: Manning is a city in west-central Iowa with a population of around 1,500 people. The CELP contact for the city was Ron Reischl, the chair of the Business Improvement Committee of Main Street Manning, a nonprofit organization in Manning. Webster City is a town in north-central Iowa with a population of around 8,000 people. The CELP contact for the city was Lindsay Henderson, the Community Vitality Director for Webster City Economic Development. Each city applied for an opportunity to partner with the University of Iowa through the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, which is how CELP became involved.

The Problem: Rural towns across the country were hit hard during the recession of 2008. Manning and Webster City were no exception, and Webster City’s economic struggles were exacerbated by its major job provider leaving the city. Both cities have made exceptional progress in revitalizing their communities following this downturn, but felt they could benefit from a centralized place/organization for community members to pool their investments.

The Outcome: A team of CELP clinic law students visited and met with the contacts in each city as well as members of each community. Additionally, the team conducted research on different types of investment funds and regulations that would govern each fund, interviewed members of each type of fund, and collaborated with experts on community investment. The team presented their recommendations to both clients on November 30, 2018. Following the presentation, the team provided each client with a written report detailing the project, the major identified criteria wanted in an investment fund, the research and analysis, and a recommendation on the funds we believed would be the best fits for each city. The written report also included appendices with interview memos, a guide to starting a Local Investing Opportunity Network, services offered by intrastate crowdfunding broker-dealers, a ready assessment tool for businesses interested in offering intrastate securities, and additional research on identified but not recommended funds.