Bondurant Community and Economic Development Policy Briefs
Students in the course Policy and Persuasion worked with City of Bondurant representatives to develop policy directions for issues related to the city's rapid growth and their desire to preserve the community's core "small town" identity.
Over the past 10 years, the population of Bondurant has increased by approximately 91%, and projections show that rapid growth will continue. Sustaining growth and meeting the needs of residents as the population continues to grow rapidly will require optimization of land use, meeting the diverse housing needs of residents, and continuously evaluating community needs.
With a focus on policy-oriented decision-making, students in the course conducted an "environmental scan" of comparable communities and best practices to identify successful and innovative strategies. They then developed broad policy directions for the City of Bondurant to help navigate the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly growing community. Student teams worked on five distinct but closely related community and economic development issues:
Managing Rapid Growth: Bondurant has a strong commitment to its "hometown feel," recognizing that this makes the community unique and desirable to newcomers. As the city grows at rapid speed, however, how does it hold on to its unique character? Students considered lessons learned from other communities that experienced periods of rapid growth. They especially focused on other communities with a large number of workers connected to a specific industry or employer, and another city that has an Amazon warehouse. Additionally, they sought advice from North Liberty, IA, which experienced a 53% growth increase between 2010 and 2020.
"Green" Initiatives for the City of Bondurant: Bondurant's fast growing population makes it important for the city to avoid run-away growth and maintain strong practices that will ensure its sustainable future. Caring for the natural environment through tree planting, giving voice to city workers and citizens who are dedicated to sustainability, and considering ways to make future city-funded building projects more sustainable are all important pieces to this future. Students looked at Bondurant's current work in the area of sustainability and made suggestions for next steps to build on the city's current successes.
Creative Practices for Civic Engagement: Like many communities Bondurant's city staff and elected officials are eager to engage with residents, sharing both 'fun' information regarding events and opportunities, as well as updates on city services that may effect people's daily lives. The City currently uses social media, its website, and a newsletter to communicate with resident. Students in a policy class reviewed Bondurant's current messaging tools and also looked at ways that other Iowa cities are engaging with residents. They were excited by a program that uses volunteer "ambassadors" to share information with specific neighborhoods, and another program that runs through a mainstream app. The students provided costs and benefits to these programs.
Educating Residents about Property Taxes: Bondurant is seeking ways to engage its local population in local government processes. As it grows, it especially wants to help residents understand how local taxes work and what they go toward. The city currently responds to many questions that could be streamlined by another system. Students in a policy class reviewed Bondurant's current messaging tools related to local taxes--the city's website, its e-newsletter, and social media. They reviewed current often-asked questions and devised ways to improve these three tools to more adeptly respond to citizens' concerns. After looking at current practices in other communities, they also suggested other communications tools, including infographics and AI chat bots to improve the flow and quality of information.
Targeted Business Attraction: Bondurant has been very successful in bringing new businesses to the area, not the least being a massive Amazon fulfillment center that employs more than 2,500 people. As the city continues to grow, how does it not only continue this pattern of success but become more intentional about the kinds of businesses that are needed and desired by the local population? Students in a public affairs class examined the needs of Bondurant's current population while also forecasting needs of its growing population. They identified grocery stories and pharmacies as two major needs, with a tiered healthcare provider as an additional possible area for growth. Additionally, the students considered what kinds of businesses might attract more visitors and landed on agribusinesses, such as pumpkin patches, as a strong possibility for the Bondurant area's appeal to tourists.