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Firefly Creek Ranch: Space for the arts in Northwest Iowa

Firefly Creek Ranch

Firefly Creek Ranch was created to be a place visitors can recharge their batteries.

And after restoring an abandoned retirement community center and acquiring 31 acres of land, Brenda Rose may need a new battery.

Rose is the founder and CEO Of Firefly Creek Ranch—a nonprofit organization in Northwest Iowa—that will use its land as a community for the arts and outdoors.

Rose—who lives in Des Moines but has family from the area—said three years ago she found out the Guthrie County Home had closed and had been sitting empty for two years.

“This facility had $750,000 worth of improvements,” Rose explains. “All it needed was some cleaning, love and somebody to bring a plan back to it.”

That plan was to turn that old home into the Firefly Creek Ranch.

“We can make this a viable business where people come use the community center, participate in art, reunions, business meetings, art retreats,” Rose says. “There are great art communities in the Panora, Guthrie, Perry, Stuart, Jefferson areas.”

Firefly Creek Ranch
What was known as the Guthrie County Home is being turned into the Firefly Creek Ranch.

Healing from the arts

Pairing the different arts activities with the scenic views is what Rose loves about the are.

And being an hour drive from Des Moines, it can be an opportunity to, “unplug.”

“I tell people you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can take care of other people,” Rose says.

Then she wants to make Firefly Creek Ranch affordable.

“I like being around artists that you can connect with,” Rose said. “Sometimes people have such a hyper-inflated price on their art that you can’t really plan to bring it home and enjoy. You can just look at it for the moment.”

Rose said she’d like to host an art fair with vendors at a barn on the property or classes.

How do you get 31 acres?

Rose was able to buy the 31-acre property as-is for $1 from Guthrie County after proposing a plan for Firefly Creek Ranch.

“They were looking for somebody to take over but they wanted somebody who had a plan for the building. So we were looking at senior housing. But my vision was for a more vibrant group of people.”

Keeping with the idea of helping others, Rose believes using the arts can be healing of a different form.

“This place could be that,” she says. “It’s not on the beaten path but it’s worth taking the time to get off the path.”

2 Comments

  • Brenda rose
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 6:47 am

    How do i share this article?

    • Joey Aguirre
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      Joey Aguirre
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 10:06 am

      You can copy and paste the link!

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Firefly Creek Ranch: Space for the arts in Northwest Iowa | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at mpatane@clayandmilk.com.
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