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Ep. 92 Attracting People to Our Small Towns

Tim Carty and Winona Dimeo-Ediger from Role Call are our guests on today’s episode and seriously, we could talk to them all day long! Overall, the topic today is about attracting people to our communities and how the approach to making that happen is going to look really different from how we’ve traditionally approached economic development. What would it look like to get people to actively choose their community every single day? What makes your community special? These are a few of the questions we talk about and our hope is that this discussion will help you think differently about how you’re attracting people to your town.

About Tim & Winona:

Tim began his career in sales and marketing before discovering a passion for community advocacy and economic development. Through his work at the chamber and serving as the director of talent attraction for the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area, Tim developed an innovative talent attraction strategy that formed the basis for RoleCall. He’s a husband, a dad, a baseball fan, a weirdly good limerick writer, and a whiskey enthusiast. Tim is constantly in awe of the people and organizations working in this space, especially in smaller cities. He is driven by the desire to help amplify their work and show their immense value to their communities and stakeholders. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa (and would love to take you to his favorite restaurant).

Winona has been a digital content creator for nearly a decade, writing about culture, travel, and politics for publications like National Geographic, Rolling Stone, and NPR. For the past few years, she’s been able to dig into her love of place marketing and talent attraction content as the editor-in-chief of She’s a lover of bookstores, vintage boots, dive bars, and bad jokes. The number of times she’s seen Celine Dion in concert may disturb you. Winona is obsessed with capturing the unique magic of a city and telling its story in a way that makes locals proud and prospective residents curious enough to take action. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee (and would love to take you to her favorite honky tonk).

About Role Call:

One of our core company values is "effusive honesty," so here's the honest truth about us: We met at the International Economic Development Council conference, where we presented on talent attraction strategy by day and karaoked “Glory Days” together by night —and we strive to maintain that same balance of professionalism and joie de vivre in everything we do.

More real talk? We truly love this work. We love figuring out what exactly makes a city special. We nerd out about place marketing strategies. We can talk for hours about relocation trends and skills matching and the pros and cons of incentive programs for remote workers (yes, we are very fun at parties). In this episode, we cover:

  • How we are facing a massive reframing about what economic development is and how we can consider ourselves successful in it

  • What a holistic approach to econonomic development could be

  • Why “How many jobs is this going to create?” may not be the right question to ask when assessing the value of new ideas in your community

  • The value of putting on the eyes of a newcomer in your community

Links + Resources Mentioned:

The Role Call Website:

A webinar about DIY Incentive Programs:

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Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of The Growing Small Towns Show! If the information in our conversations and interviews has helped you in your small town, please click on the images below for Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Spotify, subscribe to the show, and leave us an honest review. Your reviews and feedback will not only help us continue to deliver relevant, helpful content, but it will also help us reach even more small-town trailblazers just like you!


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