News Archive

Healthcare leadership 

There are a number of great news bits and projects going on in Washington County. Here are a few of them.

Washington County Hospital & Clinics is tops

In July, the National Rural Health Association named Washington County Hospital & Clinics as one of the Top 100 Critical Access hospitals out of 1,300 nationwide. That is top 8% nationally. About 25% of all hospitals in the nation are Critical Access hospitals.

In addition, the Washington County Hospital was ranked in the Top 20 nationally for Quality.

The NRHA evaluation criteria are:

  1. Inpatient market share
  2. Outpatient market share
  3. Population risk
  4. Charge
  5. Quality ** Top 20 Nationally!
  6. Outcomes
  7. Patient perspectives
  8. Financial stability

The Iowa Hospital Association recently reported that the Washington County Hospital has an $18.7 Million annual impact on the Washington County economy.

Washington a top Retirement town in Iowa

SmartAsset, a personal finance website, recently named Washington as the #5 top retirement community in Iowa. SmartAsset looked at:

  1. Local & state income and sales tax rates
  2. Number of doctor's offices
  3. Recreation centers
  4. Retirement centers


The other top ten towns to retire to included Algona (1), Cherokee (2), Manchester (3), Carroll (4), Spencer (6), Clive (7), Sheldon (8), Decorah (9), and West Des Moines (10).

Healthcare is Top Employment Sector 

Healthcare has also steadily climbed to become the biggest employment sector in Washington County, with 1,300 healthcare jobs. Other major employment sectors, like manufacturing, have experienced significant volatility over the years, while Healthcare has been much more consistent and growing.

The 2016 Healthcare Laborshed Characteristics report is available on the WEDG web site.


Halcyon House completes $10.5 M Expansion

Halcyon House retirement community in Washington is almost complete with a expansion/renovation project that builds 3 new 18-room skilled nursing households. The three "households" have different purposes:

  • Secure memory support household
  • Short-term stay household for rehabilitation therapy
  • Long-term care/hospice care household

In addition, the project includes significant renovations to existing parts of the community.

United Presbyterian Home plans expansion

The UP Home is also getting ready to break ground on its own $4 Million expansion project.

"The Expansion of Quality First campaign includes a two-story building addition on to the south hall of the current Health Center. The addition will include 17 private rooms along with converting existing semi-private rooms to private rooms, the development of a dementia specific area and the expansion of our current wellness and fitness area to include a 12’ x 20’ warm water therapy pool."


Pleasantview Home in Kalona makes campus plans

In Kalona, Pleasantview Home retirement community is making plans for a significant expansion and renovation project as well. US Rep. David Loebsack toured Pleasantview Home today to learn more about their plans. More details to come.



Not all healthcare enterprises are retirement communities and the Hospital. Local entrepreneurs like Todd Thompson have started several companies, including SmartScripts, Reliant Long Term Care Pharmacy, and TelePharm (with son Roby Miller).

This fast growing family of companies, located all or in part in Washington, are charting a new course for delivering pharmaceuticals and supplements.


Iowa City #3 City in Nation

Outdoor Magazine readers also recently named Iowa City as the #3 best city in the Nation to live

Washington County is a part of the Iowa City MSA (Metro Statistical Area). Certainly all the major outdoor recreation improvements at Marr Park, Lake Darling State Park, and upcoming improvements to the Kewash Nature Trail help make Washington County a real contributor to the outdoor ideals for Outdoor Magazine.


Washington County Laborshed 2016

Several weeks ago, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) presented our 2016 Laborshed Analysis for Washington and communities around Washington County. This is some great info for employers.

A Laborshed Analysis measurers several factors. First, IWD survey private and public employers to find out what zip code their employees live in. This helps to show the zip codes where people live and where they work. Second, IWD surveys households in the zip codes about their employment status, wages, education, and willingness to change employment. IWD has more information about method and statistics about Laborsheds on their web site.

If you're an employer, this is some great info to review to better understand the employment scene in greater Washington County and Southeast Iowa. Some of the exciting topics include:

  • Education attainment
  • Education fields
  • Commuting time
  • Age profiles by employment status
  • Insurance & Benefits
  • Reasons for considering a job change, or staying put
  • Profile of Underemployed, Not Employed, Homemakers, & Retired
  • Laborshed maps by community

 Laborshed Documents to view or download:



This information and documents is also available on WEDG's web site in the Data & Demographics page.

If you'd like a hard copy of the full Laborshed Analysis report, or any of the other reports, contact WEDG and we can help!

If you'd like assistance in understanding or interpreting the Laborshed data and maps, contact WEDG and we can help (along with IWD staff)!

Lastly, thanks to these partners for helping local economic development groups like WEDG to fund the Laborshed Analysis reports in Washington County and in the other 6 counties in Iowa's Creative Corridor - Washington County Riverboat Foundation, Alliant Energy, Kirkwood Community College, CIPCO, and Mid-American Energy.


Washington County population growing

Washington County's population continues to slowly climb, according to the US Census Bureau. Most rural and non-metro Iowa counties have lost population over the last 5 years. Washington County grew by 543 or 2.5% since 2010 to 22,247. At this rate, Washington County will surpass 23,000 population by about 2022.

A look at the components of population change will really open your eyes. Are there more births than deaths? Is domestic (US) migration showing people moving into or away from a county. Same with international migration.

In Southeast Iowa, Washington County hits the trifecta of population change over the past five years. There are significantly more births than deaths, like 327. People move in and out of Washington County all the time. But over 200 more people moved in to Washington County from other places in Iowa or the US compared to moving out. And there is a modest but positive gain from international migration in to Washington County.

In fact, besides Johnson and Linn Counties (and Scott County), only Washington County has experienced a positive population increase from domestic migration in Southeast Iowa. That is remarkable. Washington County was 10th in Iowa for positive domestic migration, even including the big metro counties (and places like Dallas and Warren Counties).

If nothing else, Washington County communities have worked very hard over the last decade to make Washington County an attractive and desirable place to live and work. That strategy may be paying off by attracting new residents.

Neighboring sister counties, like Jefferson County (Fairfield) had an even larger population increase than Washington County. However, most all of this increase is from international migration, tempered by domestic out-migration, and more deaths than births.

If you'd like to chec out the population estimate data for every county in Iowa (or all the States) check it out on the Iowa State Data Center's web site.


In addition to the US Census Bureau's population estimates for 2015, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) reports on monthly laborforce changes, and unemployment rates.

Washington County continues to have a strong and growing laborforce, compared to many other rural counties in Southeast Iowa. Washington County's laborforce of 12,700 is one of the region's largest, which is remarkable considering it was only 9,500 in the early 1990s.

Henry County (Mt. Pleasant) is 2,000 people smaller than Washington County, but its laborforce is 3,000 less. Mahaska County (Oskaloosa) is almost identical to Washington County in population, but its laborforce is 1,000 less.

Washington County's unemployment rate did creep up to 3.9% in February, following trends around Iowa and the US.

In the next blog post, we'll highlight the recently released Washington County Laborshed Analysis completed by IWD. More maps and tables to enjoy.



Housing Summit & Annual Dinner

Remember to register for the WEDG/Chamber/Main Street ANNUAL DINNER by Monday, March 14! After Monday, the price goes from $40 to $50! The Annual Dinner is Monday, March 21st at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.

Its a great time. Thanks to all our sponsors and raffle donors!

If you've been putting it off, click here to register.

HOUSING SUMMIT - 11:30a, March 29th

Prior to 2007, home construction in Washington and Washington County was vibrant. Since then, housing construction has slowed to a crawl. We don't want this to become our new normal!

WEDG is hosting a 90-minute lunch On Tuesday, March 29th to initiate a dialog about how we can get more housing development going around Washington County. 11:30a-1:00p at Kirkwood Washington Regional Center.

Registration is free. Bring your thoughts and ideas to share with the group. Maybe do some networking. Bring business cards.


Who should attend:

  • Landowners
  • Lenders
  • Contractors
  • Local Gov't & School Officials
  • Realtors
  • Developers
  • Utilities

We'll have sandwiches and drinks. Probably some fruit too.


Annual Dinner March 21st

Join WEDG, the Washington Chamber of CommerceMain Street Washington, and 300 friends at our joint Annual Dinner on Monday, March 21 at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.

It is a satisfying evening of networking, celebration, awards, and insights. Between two ferns with emcee Jaron Rosien will be guest speaker Mark Nolte of the Iowa City Area Development Group. A fabulous two-meat buffet, cash bar, and great raffle prizes - just $40 per person. 

Plus, the Riverside Casino is offering a special $64.95 hotel rate for March 21st after the Annual Dinner. Call 319-648-1234 and request the room block for Washington County Annual Dinner.

Regional Vision Rising

For several years, community leaders in our 7-county region have been working on flood recovery (in progress), developing a regional brand (Iowa's Creative Corridor), and a regional economic development strategy.

Throughout 2016, a regional economic development strategy will take shape through the input of literally thousands of people. You should be one of those people! Join 500 people that have taken our survey in the first week. Lets hear your opinion - it makes a difference. 

The planning process is being facilitated by Market Street Services. Market Street has also worked with the greater Des Moines area on their Capital Crossroads plan, and most recently with the Quad Cities on a 2030 Vision.

Stronger Economies Together (SET)

In addition to the exciting Regional Visioning process starting in the greater Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area, (including Washington County) we are looking for additional economic collaborations with our sister counties to the south.

Stronger Economies Together is a process to develop regional economic collaboration in Washington, Jefferson, and Henry Counties. Thanks to a grant from the USDA Rural Development, we are working to develop and implement an economic development blueprint, which is intended to identify and strategically build on the current and emerging economic strengths of our three-county region. 

Our next session is Friday, March 11 at Noon.

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