Strateligent CEO Aaron Hautala delivers keynote address at Iowa Trails Summit 2022 – Brainerd Dispatch

Aaron Hautala, CEO and creative director of Strateligent and destination development consultant, recently delivered the keynote address to an interested audience at the Iowa Trails Summit, an annual event focused on trail development issues such as land acquisition, engineering, funding, maintenance and… marketing focused . This year’s summit took place in Webster City, Iowa.

“Aaron has a remarkable ability to connect with trail advocates through shared challenges and vision,” said Andrea Boulton, Trails and Greenways Director at the INHF’s Statewide Trails Coordinator. “In moments he connected with everyone in the audience and inspired them to not only think about what could be for their own communities but also gave them action steps from his own experience as examples of how to dream big Reality.”

Hautala presented his roadmap directing the growth of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area’s mountain bike system from 25 miles of two-way trail to 70 miles of one-way trail in one direction within a decade. Not only did Hautala provide guidance on expanding the trail system, but he also shared his proven process for building economic development and quality of life around outdoor recreation. His process helped revitalize the Cuyuna region, attracting more than 30 new businesses and increasing the annual cyclist count to 119,000, generating an economic impact of $9,000,000 each year.

“What Aaron has done in Cuyuna to bring a community together around mountain biking and have a positive impact on the local economy has given me a whole new way to talk to others about the importance of singletrack,” said Shae Rossetti, Marketing, Whiterock Conservancy Director and attendee of the Iowa Trails Summit. “It’s exciting to say that mountain biking has helped breathe life back into a small town. With the help of community leaders across Iowa, we can emulate this and bring small towns across Iowa back to life. Not just providing much-needed public recreation space, but bringing existing and new businesses to life. Trails of any scale, when built with the help and collaboration of community leaders and passionate volunteers, can create an economic gold mine.”

At the event, hosted by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, and the National Parks Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, Trail participated builders, supporters and volunteers across Iowa.

“Since the closing of the Iowa Trails Summit, I have received numerous emails and comments appreciating Aaron’s keynote speech. Many commented that they felt a renewed enthusiasm for their work,” Boulton shared. “That reaction inspires me as someone who works and is committed to all of Iowa’s trail system. I’m excited to see so many partners motivated to push things to happen across the state.” Aaron Hautala is President and Creative Director of Strateligent™, Founder of Cuyuna Adventure Town USA®, consultant for the development of travel destinations and certified executive coach. Passionate about economic development through purpose built outdoor recreation with intelligent design, he speaks globally about the power it has to transform communities. Learn more at