Quality of Life
Elkader is the seat of Clayton County, has excellent educational facilities, a highly regarded hospital, is home to the main office of the Keystone Area Education Agency, and is a destination for retail, recreation, art and historic preservation.
Elkader is a Great American Main Street Community and one of the smallest communities in the country designated as an official Cultural and Entertainment District.
Multiple Elkader business owners have been award winners of the Main Street Iowa Challenge Grants and Open 4 Business Grants to fund business expansion, building renovations, and job creation.
Elkader has eleven sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Elkader has 125+ businesses offering a complete array of services to residents and visitors including many rarely found in a community the size of Elkader. Browse our Business Directory for current listings.
Market for Growth
- In 2020, Clayton County ranked #1 out of 11 regional counties in Northeast Iowa for tourism, with Elkader being a top-ranked tourism community within Clayton County (according to Arrivalist data).
- In 2019, the Elkader Economic Vitality Team conducted a market survey to determine which new businesses community members would like to see in Elkader. For a list of the top prospects, view the analysis of our survey results.
- Additional comprehensive market analysis data is available by request, through our partnership with Main Street Iowa, for potential businesses looking to start a business or expand a business in Elkader. Contact Main Street Director and Economic Development Director at 563-245-2770 or email us for more information.
Why Start a Business Here
“We originally came to Elkader because of its Algerian connections. What we discovered was a small town with a vibrant downtown. Main Street was full of cars, and while you often have to look around a bit to find parking, to us this was a sign that people were drawn in to the town and its businesses and cultural activities.
We had been living in Boston for the last 10 years and had grown tired of the constant congestion and noise of city life. Elkader seemed like the type of place where we could put down roots and create a successful business. It took us several years and a lot of hard work to make our dreams of opening a restaurant in Elkader come true. However, through the process, we received valuable support from many members of the community, in particular, the banks, the Clayton County Development Office and other small businesses. As first time owners of a business, these individuals and organizations further supported our feeling that Elkader is a great place to start and run a business."
-- Brian Bruening and Frederique Boudouani, Owners
Schera’s Restaurant & Bar
Why Keep and Grow a Business Here
“Elkader has a hidden treasure of craftsmanship and talent that is not being fully utilized. There is a natural work ethic instilled in the workforce in the area that forms the #1 value to have and grow a business in Elkader. With the small town values applied to our products through our employees, we can create a value within our products that our competitors can not touch. It is easy to market quality to a world market. When people hear the words “E-Ject/Elkader, Iowa” there is a direct link to state of the art, productive earthmoving machines.”
-- John P. Moyna
C.J. Moyna & Sons
What Others Are Saying
"To step into Elkader is to step into a magical valley outlined in church steeples, with a river running through its heart. Its brick-front buildings, its foursquare main street, Keystone Bridge, and dramatic setting make it feel at once Midwestern and Old World. The past comes to the present in its antique stores and the friendliness of its people. To boot, nature is everywhere and easy to enjoy – canoeing the meandering Turkey River, fishing a nearby trout stream, or taking a hike in Backbone State Park just 15 miles away. Elkader is a gem of place to be visited and revisited. I recommend it highly to nature and history enthusiasts.”
-- John G. Motoviloff
Fly Fisher’s Guide to Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa
Revolving Loan Fund
Are you a current business owner looking to expand? Are you a new business owner looking to open your business in Elkader? Apply for our Revolving Loan Fund and let us help you begin or expand your business.