AMES, IA (April 15, 2024) – The 8th Annual Iowa Rural Summit last week included a special recognition of six rural leaders, including Lisa Shimkat of Fort Dodge.  Shimkat was honored for her leadership of Iowa’s small business development center (SBDC) network and her statewide commitment to economic development.     

The Iowa Rural Summit brings together leaders from small towns across Iowa each year, and this year’s event included a special tribute to a group of individuals who have made a difference in their rural community or region.  The Summit is hosted by the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC), a statewide non-profit focused on small-town and rural vitality.

The Rand Fisher Rural Leadership Award, sponsored by the IADG Community Foundation, recognizes individuals in rural economic and community development, philanthropy, the arts and utilities.  The honorees are nominated by friends, colleagues or anyone who values their contributions to rural places.  The final selection is by an IRDC screening committee.

Shimkat was cited for her role directing the fifteen locations across the state that provide business counseling for entrepreneurs in all areas of starting, operating and expanding a business. In addition, she also serves on the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board since May of 2019 and is serving her third term on America’s Small Business Development Center, National Association Board and is currently the Board Chair.

“Lisa is one of the best-known leaders in rural Iowa and the work she does affects small businesses, rural communities and the people who live there,” said Mark Reinig, IRDC board president.  “She’s a perfect example of how a leader can make a huge difference.” With a crowd of more than 360 individuals from 70 different small towns, the Iowa Rural Summit addressed issues this year ranging from rural pharmacy shortages to ag technology innovation to community development options.