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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Executive Director, Rick Dickinson

GREATER DUBUQUE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. The Greater Dubuque Development Corporation advertised itself as a clearinghouse for cooperative activity involved with implementing a comprehensive growth and development program for Dubuque.

The Dubuque business community in 1984 financed an analysis of community economic development opportunities and organizational needs. This $150,000 study prepared by the Dubuque Economic Steering Committee was carried out by Welton Becket Associates and Peat, Marwick and Mitchell. J. Bruce MERIWETHER, steering committee chairman, suggested at the end of the study that achieving these goals would be best served by reshaping the steering committee into a non-profit development corporation to coordinate development activities throughout the city. The new group would be called the Dubuque Area Economic Development Corporation. The twenty-five to thirty members of its board would come from government, business, labor and other groups. (1) The renamed Greater Dubuque Development Corporation was formed to provide guidance for the implementation of the plan. Key segments of the community are represented on the board of directors. These community representatives came from:

Area Representatives

At large ……………………… 5

Chamber of Commerce ……4

City Government……………4

County Government………2

Dubuque Area Industrial Development Corporation……2

Healthcare Community………2

Northeast Iowa Tech…………1

Organized Labor……………2

Regional Planning…………... 1

State Legislators……………... 1

Tri-Colleges…………………. 1

The Plan envisioned cooperative action in seven goal areas. To achieve the goal of building and sustaining community consensus, the Corporation organized a coalition linking all-important segments of the community in the economic development process.

A second goal was to establish Dubuque as a recognized tourist destination. To reach this goal, the Corporation sponsored feasibility studies and recruited tourist-oriented downtown hotel developers, facilitated the acquisition of railroad property for parking in the ICE HARBOR, carried out a master planning process for the Harbor development area, organized plans for improved roadway access to the 4th Street Peninsula area, and assisted in the development of state support for the local Welcome Center.

The third goal was to maintain and expand Dubuque's traditional economic base. Steps toward the achievement of this goal included financing and constructing necessary improvements in the INDUSTRIAL PARKS, organizing market studies for service to support local metal-working firms, providing development information to a wide range of existing and prospective industrial employers, organizing resources for industrial land improvement, and organizing resources for plant relocation or expansion for such industries as SWISS VALLEY FARMS, FROMMELT INDUSTRIES INC., and Theisen Distributing Company, and recruiting Captive Plastics, Inc.

To maintain and expand the health care industry, the Corporation involved representatives of the health care community in the planning process. The health care strengths of Dubuque were included in the city's marketing program.

Improving local transportation services led to the partial funding of an air service feasibility study. The Corporation also conducted research and prepared reports for local participation in the state R.I.S.E. highway improvement program. A collaborative effort was made with development efforts of local RAILROADS.

A sixth goal called for strengthening Dubuque as a retail center. The Corporation involved retail development in the cooperative planning process and provided start-up money for the Main Street Program. Opportunities were sought for tourist oriented retail attractions and major retail developers were involved in community investment opportunities.

The goal of expanding the base of service industry employment led to marketing the local service industry developments and providing development assistance to a venture in telemarketing. A collaborative employer recruitment program was carried out with Main Street, Ltd., and local support was organized for a fiber optics telecommunications access.

The final goal of the Corporation called for including Dubuque colleges and other educational resources in the overall economic development plan. Steps to achieve this objective included organizing tri-college participation in the regional economic development council, sponsoring a conference on college opportunities in state development programs, and providing assistance for grant applications.

In 2010 the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation had four main goals:

Business Retention and Expansion

Local employers are the source of over 85% of the area's job growth - they're key to Dubuque's success. Recognized as the #1 program in North America by Business Retention and Expansion International, Greater Dubuque's InfoAction aims to continually identify and assess the needs of the area's existing employers, then taking the necessary actions to address both challenges and opportunities.

Workforce Development: Retention and Recruitment

Greater Dubuque Development takes a unique, proactive approach to Workforce Development in the Greater Dubuque area, providing incoming and existing businesses exceptional workforce assistance and services. Greater Dubuque Development offers the tools that employers need for recruiting talented workforce.

New Business Recruitment

Greater Dubuque Development is committed to the highest level of service to businesses considering a location in the Greater Dubuque area. From project conception to reality, Greater Dubuque will be your partner every step of the way, helping you navigate the course with valuable resources, information, and services.

Retail Expansion

Dubuque, with a consumer base bolstered by colleges and tourism, is a retail center for the area's population. Over 3.5 million tourists visit Dubuque and Galena (13 miles to the east) each year, and over 18,000 students attend higher education institutions within a 20-mile radius.

Greater Dubuque Development's "Destination for Opportunity" was a five-year campaign (2007-2012) with aggressive, measurable objectives:

5,500 New Jobs

Create 5,500 net new jobs to bring our workforce to a record of 61,000 by December of 2012. Job growth is tracked by utilizing the Iowa Department of Workforce Development official monthly statistics.

$16.00+ Wage Levels

Targeted wages for new jobs will be $16.00+ or an average annual income of $33,280. Dubuque County wage levels are monitored using the data released by Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

$300 Million Commercial Construction

Achieve $300 million in new commercial construction in Dubuque County. Construction data is tracked through information provided by the City of Dubuque's Building and Permits Department and the Dubuque County Assessor's office.

6% Population Growth

Grow the Dubuque County projected population by 6%, from 89,143 in 2000 to 94,500 by 2012. Population estimates that are provided by the U.S. Census Bureau are used to monitor Dubuque County's population growth.

In March, 2017 GDDC had received contributions totaling over $8.1 million toward of goal of $10 million for a new five-year campaign called Greater Dubuque 2022. The project would include working with city officials on converting rental properties in the North End of Dubuque into single-family residences. A former downtown renovation had included new signage, facade improvements, and streetscape improvements along the Central Avenue corridor. The Greater Dubuque 2022 campaign also focused on plans for 64,000 jobs in Dubuque County, $800 million in residential and commercial construction, a population of 100,000 and median household income of $60,000. (2)

The 1987 Dubuque City Directory listed 790 Main.



1. Hendricks, Mike,"Five-Year Action Plan for Dubuque Lists 7 Goals," Telegraph Herald, June 26, 1984, p. 13

2. "GDDC Raises $8 Million for New Campaign," Telegraph Herald, March 24, 2017, p. 3A