2 innovation labs set to open locally this fall

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Two more innovation labs are set to open in the tri-state area by this fall.

Eric Dregne, innovation lab director for Creative Adventure Lab, confirmed that plans are being finalized to open a new lab in Dyersville in the Schuster Building at the intersection of First Avenue East and Third Street Northeast.

The lab will function as a co-working space for remote workers and business startups, as well as offer business coaching and meeting spaces.

“The Dyersville Economic Development Corp. and the City of Dyersville have been great to work with,” Dregne said. “They’ve been great partners to help us identify the space. We’re looking forward to working in the community and helping businesses grow in Dyersville.”

The Schuster Building has been undergoing improvements since the beginning of the year. Jacque Rahe, executive director of Dyersville Economic Development Corp., said the building has been “underutilized” for years. The innovation lab will take up the west half of the property.

She said several locations for the lab were considered, but officials ultimately wanted it in the downtown business district.

“This is something that we have been working on since 2017 with the downtown study,” Rahe said of the city’s efforts to revitalize the downtown area. “This is just kind of another important piece of that puzzle.”

Having a space such as the lab downtown will be great for workforce and business development, she said. It also could provide an opportunity for people with different skill sets to meet and possibly work together.

“You talk to people who work from home, half love it and half are just striving for the opportunity to be back with other people,” Rahe said. “So this kind of offers this opportunity to those home-based businesses.”

Dregne said another innovation lab in Monticello, Iowa, is currently under construction and also should be open sometime this fall. That lab will be located at 101 E. First St.

Monticello Area Chamber of Commerce Director Jan Hoag said the city is “very excited” about the lab coming to town but credited former City Manager Doug Herman with bringing the plan together.

Officials with the Dubuque-based Creative Adventure Lab last year announced plans to open five innovation labs in rural communities, including Dyersville and Monticello. Dregne said all of the rural labs are supported through a partnership with Dupaco Community Credit Union.

No location has been set yet for the fifth and final lab, he said. But a rural lab opened in Cascade, Iowa, in August 2020 and another opened soon after in Independence, Iowa. Dregne said both facilities provided a space for people who had to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re really turning into a great tool in the toolbox for local economic development in each of those communities,” he said.