Lansing RAGBRAI Committee announces grant awards from historic profit

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) for 2022 ended its annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state in Lansing in late July this past summer. RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest multi-day recreational bicycle touring event in the world.

The total profit realized from Lansing RAGBRAI 2022 was $113,298.92, which is the highest in the history of the annual event, according to RAGBRAI officials. Local organizers say the success of the event in Lansing was only possible because of the immense work and volunteer hours of hundreds of citizens, coming together to show Iowa pride and hospitality. Lansing RAGBRAI Executive Chair Ian Zahren would like to say to the people of the Lansing area and the RAGBRAI riders: “We are immensely grateful to all of you!”

Ordinarily, towns on the RAGBRAI route can expect to profit about five percent of the overall funds. Many earn $20,000-$30,000 as a result of their efforts. This is about what the Lansing community generated in profit the last time the ride ended in Lansing in 2017. In 2022, however, Lansing generated more than a 50 percent profit margin, doubled the revenue generated in 2017 and nearly quadrupled the profit.

Much of Lansing’s RAGBRAI income was from parking, as many cyclists bring their cars to park at the final stop, then take a bus to the other side of the state to begin the ride. The Lansing  RAGBRAI leadership team implemented a number of innovations to make this happen. They enabled bicyclists to reserve their parking online through a tiered system that incentivized early registration. They also created new services which hadn’t been offered before such as VIP parking, which raised $56,250 - 20 percent of which was given to the City of Lansing Streets Department.

Other innovations helped improve the profit as well; Lansing essentially took the RAGBRAI model and flipped the equation. Most towns make the majority of their money on vendor fees. So, in order to cover the high overhead costs, which can often range over $100,000 for the event, local jurisdictions rely heavily on large vendor fees and private donations.

The Lansing leadership team felt it would be advantageous to tack on a charge to the boxed meals that participants purchased, passing the fee along to the customer rather than having the businesses foot a large upfront bill.

The overall profit margin does not include the money made from local Main Street businesses, which recorded their best days ever, some with revenue topping $10,000, according to local owners. An audit by the Iowa Travel Industry found that the total economic impact to the Lansing area, which included labor costs, local-good purchases, actual dollars spent by non-residents, hotel/motel bookings and other monetary receipts, totaled $1,477,396.

The profit made by Lansing RAGBRAI was offered to local non-profit organizations in the form of grant funding; those wishing to receive funds wrote grant applications. The Lansing RAGBRAI Advisory Board, which did not include Lansing RAGBRAI Executive Chair Ian Zahren, adopted a grant rubric that was published online and given to each applicant in their application.

The rubric adjudicated applications on the following criteria: community impact, tourism impact, economic impact, other monies allocated to the project from other sources, and feasibility of completion. The scores were tabulated and the advisory board sifted through additional content to help allocate the funding. It was a competitive process, as $113,298.92 was available for grant disbursement but over $300,000 was requested in grant applications received.

“The people of Lansing created an experience for the tens of thousands of visitors that may entice them to come back and visit our area again soon,” the Lansing RAGBRAI Committee shared. “The picturesque landscape and small town hospitality appeal to many of the regular RAGBRAI riders. It certainly sends the message that small places can do extraordinary things. Additionally, the funds from Lansing RAGBRAI will help many local nonprofits and city governments invest back into the people and community and make the Lansing area an even more beautiful and wonderful place to live, work and play.”

Those receiving the grant funding must use the funds for their project within a year. Each has signed a contract to do so. The following are the Lansing RAGBRAI 2022 Grant Awardees:

• Main Street Lansing - $18,500 for Black Hawk Bridge Lighting: Funds from this project will go to help kickstart a fundraising campaign to light the new Black Hawk Bridge, as well as purchase and install several of the new lights.
• City of Lansing Park and Recreation - $2,500 for Mt. Hosmer Trail Maintenance Shed: Funds from this matching grant will go to the cost of building a maintenance shed to store materials to maintain and upkeep the Mt. Hosmer Trail System and Veteran’s Park.
• Eastern Allamakee Community School District - $950 for New Albin Elementary Music Enrichment: Funds from this matching grant will be used to purchase matching sets of metallophones for the elementary music program as well as repair several other instruments to enhance music education in local schools.
• Lansing United Methodist Church - $1,500 for Youth Trip: Funds will be used to take the United Methodist Youth Group on a weekend trip to the Wisconsin Dells.
• City Of Lansing - $1,000 for Music In The Park: Funds will go to the ongoing cost of hosting Music in the Park during the summer.
• New Albin Fire Department - $5,000 for Bunker Gear: Funds will help purchase three new sets of bunker gear for the New Albin Fire Department.
• Immaculate Conception Church - $4,000 for Gethsemane Cemetery Renovation Project: Funds from this matching donation will be used to help repave the Gethsemane Cemetery road as well as help with new barrier construction and new tree and shrub plantings.
• Lansing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) - $5,000 for Heart Monitor: Funds will be used to help purchase a new heart monitor for the Lansing EMS team.
• Iowa Great Places - $4,000 for Vision Plan: Funds will go to assembling a vision plan for the City of Lansing to make a proposal for being designated an Iowa Great Place in order to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Department Of Cultural Affairs, which would enhance tourism and economic development in Lansing and the surrounding region.
• City of Lansing - $10,077.60 for trash cans and planter boxes: Funds from this matching grant will be used to purchase 10 new steel trash cans and 20 new planter boxes for the City of Lansing.
• Lansing Farmers Market - $1,000 for year-round signage, marketing and purchase of canopies: Funds will be used to install two permanent large signs on the outskirts of town to market the Lansing Farmers Market as well as help with continued marketing and the purchase of additional supplies.
• LIFT (Lansing Iowa Food Trust) - $1,000 for Help for the Holidays: Funds will be used to purchase holidays meals for local families.
• Our Savior’s Lutheran Church - $4,000 for a furnace project: Funds will go to help with the purchase of a new furnace for the church.
• City of Lansing Park and Recreation - $5,000 for Summer Recreational Equipment: Funds will be used to purchase new summer recreational equipment including new catcher’s mitts and baseball/softball mounds and AED for the pool.
• City of Lansing and New Albin Police Departments - $2,000 for Body Camera Updates: Funds will go to help upgrade and purchase state of the art body cameras for the New Albin and Lansing Police Departments.
• Allamakee County ATV/UTV Club - $4,000 for a trailer: This donation will be used to help fund the purchase of a trailer for the Allamakee County ATV/UTV Club.
• Eastern Allamakee Community School District - $4,200 for Family and Consumer Sciences Equipment: Funds will be used to purchase a dishwasher for the Family and Consumer Science program at Eastern Allamakee Community Schools.
• Eastern Allamakee Community School District - $1,000 for New Albin PBIS Programming: Funds will be used to enhance the PBIS programming at New Albin Elementary. The program helps teach students community building as well as social emotional learning.
• Lansing Fire Department - $2,000 donation: Funds will be used toward Fire Department needs.
• Eastern Allamakee Community School District - $3,000 for local beef: Funds will be used to purchase all local beef for the meals for all students at Eastern Allamakee Community Schools through the end of the year.
• City of Lansing Streets Department - $11,250 donation: Funds will be used towards Street Department needs.
• Eastern Allamakee Community School District - $4,500 for the Athletic Department: Funds will be used to help purchase new jerseys for boys and girls basketball and upkeep and purchase of new equipment.
• Main Street Lansing - $15,000 donation: Funds will be used towards Main Street Lansing needs.