David Heiar

David Heiar was one of 13 people to receive the inaugural “rural hero” award at the Iowa Rural Summit. Shown are, from left, Sandy Ehrig, IRDC past chair; Mark Reinig, IRDC chair; Heiar; and Rand Fisher, IRDC vice chair.

The fifth annual Iowa Rural Summit included a first-ever recognition of “rural heroes” – and Jackson County Economic Alliance Senior Adviser David Heiar was one of the 13 individuals honored.

The event was held a couple weeks ago at Kirkwood Community College.

The Rural Summit brings together leaders from small towns across Iowa each year, and this year’s event included a Rural Recognition ceremony that paid tribute to a group of individuals who have made a difference in their rural community or region.

“Dave was selected for his remarkable work over 40 years in the communities and regions he has served,” said Mark Reinig, board chairman of the Iowa Rural Development Council, which hosts the annual Rural Summit. “Dave makes great things happen but also serves as a mentor and a coach to both emerging leaders and communities looking to make new things happen. He shows how small towns can thrive through great leadership and innovative projects.”

Heiar has more than 40 years’ experience in city government in the Eastern Iowa cities of Bellevue, Manchester and Dubuque.

He continues to assist fellow city officials and he mentors new colleagues. He shares his knowledge and experience with various panels and workshops in addition to his work with the JCEA and Hometown Pride committees.

With a crowd of more than 200 individuals from 60 different small towns, the Iowa Rural Summit addressed issues ranging from arts and culture to child care to entrepreneurship.

The 2022 Summit will be held April 12-13 in Ames.

Other honorees included Duane Asbe, Clarion; Barb Baker, Grinnell; Beth Bilyeu, Forest City; Evan Blakely, Denison; Kevin Cabbage, Stanton; Jim Erb, Charles City; Lora Friest, Decorah; Lyle Hevern, Estherville; Bill Morain; Carla and Chuck Offenburger, Cooper; Peg Raney, Jefferson; Beth Waddell, Corning.