South Side District’s first Executive Director helps district reinvest about $104,000 annually

Angie Jordan, who is also one of the women who helped create the self-supported municipal improvement district, will begin her role this month.


Gabby Drees

Angie Jordan, executive director of the Iowa City South District Self-Supported Municipal District, poses for a portrait in her office on Southgate Avenue in Iowa City on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. Jordan has served as president of the South District Neighborhood Association for four years and currently owns Banjo Knits Empowerment.

Alejandro Rojas, News Reporter

Iowa City’s South Side District’s first Executive Director Angie Jordan is set to begin her role this month. 

The South Side has been a self-supported municipal improvement district since 2022 after receiving approval from Iowa City’s City Council in January. 

Jordan is a local business owner of Banjo Knits Empowerment LLC in Iowa City and is a founding member and president of the South District Neighborhood Association, which was created in 2018. 

Starting in 2020, Jordan worked with Tasha Lard, owner of JD Beauty Supply and president of the district’s board, and Marlén Mendoza, owner of Mendoza Consulting, to create the self-supported municipal improvement district.

“We three women definitely spearheaded this,” Jordan said. “It wouldn’t be possible without the team effort. And we also have different reasons why we wanted to see this come through, and a lot of those aligned with each other’s”

Mendoza said all three women were already involved locally through their work. The group collaborated with Iowa City Downtown District Executive Director Nancy Bird, who recommended creating a self-supported municipal improvement district.

“When we started to get to know each other a little bit, we realized, ‘Wow, we’re doing very similar work in all of our communities.’ And, ultimately, what we want to do is empower them to have agency to do the thing that they want to do, whether it’s starting a business, being leaders, or getting connected to certain things. That was what really drove us,” Mendoza said.

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The point of a self-supported municipal improvement district, Lard said, is that businesses will self-tax, and that money will then go back into the district to help it grow. These districts exist throughout Iowa, including one in downtown Iowa City.

“The difference between us at the south district SSMID and other SSMIDs is that we are a community as well. But we are building a business district in the south district,” Lard said. “It also can be considered as an investment because it is the businesses reinvesting in themselves.”

Regarding financial reinvestment, the district will generate about $104,000 annually, Lard said. To help growth happen, the district will host events to attract people to the area, Lard said. 

“We want to continue to grow our district,” Lard said. “We want to continue to provide entertainment for the area [with a] diversity market, movie night, maybe a food truck. We want to continue to bring things to the area and then bring more people to the area.”

Jordan said the new system will help businesses that struggled during the pandemic.

“I think what’s really magical about the SSMID, this is a way for that change to not just be on the backs of those closest to the problem. This is a way to share the heavy load of all the work that has to be done sustainably,” Jordan said.

For Lard, Jordan’s new position is recognition for that work and experience.

“Angie Jordan has been doing this work for 15 years,” Lard said. “And it just legitimizes her efforts that she’s already been doing in the area.”

Mendoza echoed a similar sentiment.

“This was her dream realized. She always wanted this for the south district,” Mendoza said. “And this is a great tool to show her time and commitment.”