Prosperity Eastern Iowa: Program Evaluation & Plan

As part of their capstone project, second-year graduate students from the University of Iowa’s School of Urban & Regional Planning provided an update to the program structure and plans for The Petal Project, one of Prosperity Eastern Iowa’s (PEI) flagship economic development programs.

Students explored the role of regional government in promoting sustainable business practices through an evaluation of The Petal Project, a green-business certification program specific to the region.  Students researched current usage, the extent to which users’ needs are served, and best practices to increase effectiveness and success. Through the program evaluation and development of recommendations, students learned how to translate the economic development goals and vision of Prosperity Eastern Iowa into practice.

The Petal Project is the only verifiable program in Iowa that offers businesses a framework for achieving a sustainability certification. Ultimately, Prosperity Eastern Iowa aims to use the recommendations of this project to move the Petal Project towards becoming a self-sustaining program that will have an enhanced ability to promote sustainable business practices throughout Eastern Iowa. These deliverables help Prosperity Eastern Iowa enroll more businesses in the program while maintaining its integrity, increase the visibility of the program, and illustrate to the business community that becoming Petal Certified is a feasible goal with economic, environmental and social benefits. Students researched national sustainability models and frameworks to determine best practices, assessed the Petal Project structure and criteria, surveyed existing Petal Project businesses, and made recommendations based on this research.