Posted 07.03.2015 by Josh Krakauer

Iowa? Is that you? I hardly recognize you!

Thank you, Iowa, for the warm welcome home

The last time I lived in Iowa, it was pre-9/11, the iPod was still an Apple secret, and MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc, did not exist. Fast-forward 14 years: I’ve lived in Minneapolis/St. Paul, London, Chicago, and Boston. I’ve worked at marketing/PR agencies ranging in size from 20 people to 160. I’ve gotten married and had a baby.

And I just moved back to Iowa, and am working at a social media startup. The 18-year-old in me is completely dumbfounded by that last sentence.

To be 100% honest, in the last decade my outside perception of the corridor was that it was growing sea of strip malls and Target stores. My mom, ever hopeful that I’d be lured back home, kept me updated on hidden gems like chef-driven restaurants and a new city market. Sounded cool but very much the exception to the norm. My perception started to shift two years ago when my husband and I got married in Iowa City and were introduced to some wonderful and very talented vendors in the corridor. We had the best experience planning and hosting a wedding. Our out-of-state friends couldn’t believe they had such a magical weekend in a place they envisioned to be nothing but cornfields and cattle herds. After the arrival of my son a year ago, my husband and I started to think seriously about relocating out of the crowded and expensive city of Boston. We talked about moving to Iowa but something inside of me cringed each time it was mentioned. It just didn’t feel like “me” anymore. Finally, after coming to my senses that it was the most rational place for us to put down roots, we decided to pull the trigger. Having no idea what my next move career-wise would be, I cast a wide net to make contacts. I set up coffee dates and had conversations with a dozen people from different companies and organizations in the corridor area.

And funny enough, the more people I met with, the more I was impressed. And excited.

So much had changed from the Iowa that I knew 14 years ago, far beyond a few restaurants and a farmer’s market. There was a tangible shift in energy — I heard a lot of talk about growth, innovation and creativity. People were leaving careers at the companies that have been here for decades to follow their passions and create something new. There were startups, and colabs and digital agencies. It felt completely like “me” and I wanted to be part of it. Long story short, I’ve arrived here at Sculpt, excited to be part of a changing, innovative, and creative community in the corridor. I owe my home state a giant tail-between-my-legs apology for failing to see what was really happening in the area for so long. I greatly underestimated you, and for that, I am sorry. Thank you, Iowa, for the warm welcome home. I’m proud to be part of your future.

Emily Ciccariello

Emily is a community manager and PR professional who can’t go a day without creating.

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