Wells Fargo Inspiring Iowan Award

Nominee’s Name
Ryan  Wicks

Fehr Graham Engineering

Phone Number
(563) 927-2060


Makes a creative impact: Have actions placed arts and/or culture in the forefront of new ideas within an Iowa community? In what ways has this person inspired the spirit of creativity in others?

Ryan is known by many as the backbone of the River and Rec Committee. Almost a decade ago, a group of people got together and decided that there had to be more that could be done with the Maquoketa River that runs through downtown Manchester. Through Ryan’s leadership, creativity, outside-the-box thinking, and knowledge of making things happen, Manchester is now home to the largest White Water Park in the midwest. With 6 water features, the downtown of Manchester is now a frequent vacation spot of people coming from multiple states and of all ages. What was once seen as a sore spot in the mind of others and a dream that was too far to reach, Ryan was able to lead a team to overcome the obstacles of nature, and pushing a community to change and be visionary. This has inspired an entire group to realize that nothing is impossible and great things can happen, although they may take time, when people work together.

Gives back: Did this person champion a cause that made this Iowa community better and improved the lives of others? Describe these actions and the results.

Ryan led the Good to Great River and Rec Committee. This Committee was formed with the task of thinking outside the box to make the community better and have something that would make it unique. The impact it has had on the community has been incredible. Community events are now held around the project and it has spurred an awareness and appreciation for the river and the safety of the community. Most notably, the stretch of river was designated a part of the Iowa Water Trail at the Rhubarb on the River event this past June. Additionally, grants have been secured to teach kayaking safety classes as well as provide a stand for personal flotation devices and other safety information.

Contributes to economic health: What local impact has the person had on influencing economic development efforts? What is the evidence of success? What were the creative aspects to that effort?

There has been an incredible impact in influencing economic development efforts through his oversight and passion in helping to lead and develop the Manchester White Water Park. In 2015, when the park was completed, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported “The white-water course is expected to contribute an estimated $2 million in local economic activity through increased use and satisfaction from paddlers, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.” This led to Manchester being named the 2015 “River Town of the Year.” This impact continues today as use and awareness of the Park only grows and brings in more visitors and potential Delaware County Residents. The event, Rhubarb on the River, which focuses on the river was also named the 2017 Best New Event by Travel Iowa.

Manchester is now seen as a progressive community with residents and newcomers who are eager to showcase the town as well as keep pushing forward to make other dreams a reality. There were many people who put in countless hours on the committee, and off, to raise funds, research, market, and develop the White Water Park and reshape downtown Manchester, but Ryan Wick’s leadership was a true necessity in making it all happen.