The original Evolution of the Heartland event was held in Manning and Audubon in 2022 and again in 2023, and this year it is scaling across the state to be held in four separate locations. These immersive experiences will showcase the heart of America’s rural communities and the evolution of agriculture to those who are unfamiliar with the cutting-edge advancements happening across Iowa.

The main goal of these events is to highlight agritourism and entrepreneurial opportunities in rural Iowa, something that has not easily been done in the past. Evolution of the Heartland promotes rural communities working together to entice the next generation of Iowa’s visitors, residents, workforce, and entrepreneurs to visit, live, work, and play right here in the heartland.

“Evolution of the Heartland elevates the visibility of rural Iowa communities and the opportunities that exist beyond the cornfields,” shared Shelly Greving, visionary creator of Evolution of the Heartland and owner of Emerge Marketing Solutions. “Since inception two years ago, our plan has always been to feature as many rural communities as possible and highlight the entrepreneurial and agricultural advancements happening in Iowa.”

Evolution of the Heartland participants will be immersed in local tours showcasing high-quality innovation, agricultural advancements, and entrepreneurial investments occurring in rural Iowa. Attendees will get a ‘taste’ of rural Iowa by dining at local restaurants, and each location will feature its twist on locally sourced foods and emphasize the farm-to-table connection. There will also be an opportunity to explore downtown businesses and network with local business owners. Attendees will get a chance to hear from local entrepreneurs about their inspirations and the community’s role in helping them start and grow their businesses.

After a day of immersive tours, learning, and networking, host communities may choose to host a local vendor show and community reception, inviting the local community to learn more about agricultural opportunities happening in their backyard.  More details for each event will be announced as the dates get closer.

When sharing the origin of this concept, Greving recalls, “My participation in the Leadership Iowa program and my connection to many rural communities inspired me to showcase these communities to others who may think that Iowa is just a fly-over state.” She continues, “There are so many incredible entrepreneurs and innovators here who are thriving because of the support they receive from their communities, and I felt this needed to be showcased on a more regional and national level.”

Greving emphasized that “small businesses are the backbone of this country, and Iowa has a great economy and support system to help those visionaries launch their businesses. Iowans are humble, hardworking people, and while that is commendable, it is also evident that America’s heartland needs more similarly grounded and motivated people to continue to be strong.”

These events are ideal for anyone interested in learning more about agriculture, entrepreneurial opportunities, and rural Iowa communities. “In the past, we have had lawmakers, government employees, bankers, insurance underwriters, and other community leaders attend these events to gain a better understanding of what’s happening across our state,” shared Greving.

Registration for all events opens on May 1st and is limited to 50 people for each location. Registration will close three weeks before each event or when all spots have been reserved. Early bird registration features a $25 discount per person and ends June 1st. Participants can sign up to be notified when registration opens at

Join the Evolution of the Heartland tour and discover what the future holds for rural Iowa and the agriculture industry. See first-hand how agriculture has evolved from its early roots as well as the advancement of technology in many Iowa agricultural businesses and Main Street communities.

Evolution of the Heartland is accepting local and statewide sponsorships, as well as prospective 2025 community event hosts. For more information, please complete the online forms or contact Event Coordinator, Annie Greve, at Follow along with event updates on Facebook and Instagram @evolutionoftheheartland to learn more.








Pictured: Event attendees at the 2023 Evolution of the Heartland event visiting the Irlmeier Ostrich Farm near Audubon, Iowa.

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