MUSCATINE — The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs made a visit Friday to learn about ongoing projects in the region, as well as offer guidance on resources available through the department.

The trip included a tour of downtown and the riverfront as well as stops at the Muscatine History and Industry Center, the Musser Public Library/HNI Community Center and the Muscatine Art Center.

Director of the Muscatine Art Center Melanie Alexander, who helped organized the trip with State Sen. Mark Lofgren, R-Muscatine, said the goals of the trip were to share information about the department and resources they offer, as well as show what is brewing in Muscatine.

“They wanted to share information about some of the funds as far as grants, tax incentive types of programs and other resources to help make possible some of the projects that are soon to come to fruition or planned in the not-too-distant future in the community,” Alexander said. “Also the folks in Des Moines wanted to learn a little about what was going on in Muscatine — what the community priorities were, especially in terms of historic places and activity on the riverfront.”

As Alexander explained it, the visit between the department and stakeholders involved in the culture industry of Muscatine was as much about starting a conversation as answering questions. 

“They wanted to get an idea for what was going on around here so that the people involved in those projects could make contact with those folks in Des Moines who could better direct them towards — whether it be a grant or even just saying that, ‘We know another community across the state worked on a similar project and you could reach out to them to learn about how they did it,’” Alexander said.

The delegation that visited Muscatine consisted of Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs; Michael Morain, the department's communication manager; Matt Harris, Iowa Arts Council; Susan Kloewer, State Historical Soceity; Steve King, deputy State Historic Preservation Officer; and Laura Sadowsky, state historian. Also present was State Rep. Gary Carlson, R-Muscatine.

"We were impressed by the commitment they had for building a culturally vibrant community," said Director Chris Kramer of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. 

Looking forward Kramer said that she hopes that the back forth seen here will continue as Muscatine continues to adjust its vision for the future. 

"I think that, we would hope that we can continue to connect Muscatine and its leaders to the state’s resources — that might be a grant or maybe the state historic tax credit," Kramer said. "We are interested in connecting to other towns and communities to help continue to have their vision developed for the future."

For Lofgren, the future in Muscatine is bright.

"Everyone is so excited about the changes that are happening right now," Lofgren said. "But we must also think about where Muscatine will be in the next 5 years, 10 years. It’s kind of a call back to our community to ask what is happening next?"