Program Overview

Austin Consulting, in partnership with Foote Consulting Group (The Austin Team), conducted a shovel ready sites program analysis for the Iowa City Area Development Corp (ICAD Group) in 2009.  This program was adopted by ICAD Group and its partners in 2010 with the intent of introducing the program regionally or state-wide.

The program, now known as the Iowa Shovel Ready Certification Program (Shovel Ready Iowa), is represented by economic development groups in seven Eastern Iowa/Southeastern Iowa counties:  Johnson, Linn, Jones, Iowa, Washington, Cedar and Benton.


The purpose of Shovel Ready Iowa is to provide consistent standards regarding the availability and development potential of commercial and industrial sites. Shovel Ready Iowa is about filling identified market gaps in the region’s portfolio of sites – to create sites that do not exist currently, or if they do exist, are not in sufficient supply to accommodate the site needs of business prospects that approach local economic development groups for appropriate locations.

The goal is to ensure that developers, property owners, cities, utilities and state partners understand and utilize the criteria and standards developed in this program to create an inventory of pre-qualified, speculative sites ready for immediate development by end-users.

To become a “certified” or “shovel-ready” site means a third-party site selection and/or engineering firm deem the site as having attributes and conditions that meet the demands of current and future commercial development opportunities.  All such sites then are added to a local, regional and statewide inventory of sites with similar qualifications and will be strongly marketed.