2018 National Community Development Association – Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award
2018 Cedar Valley 20 Under 40
2017 Iowa Finance Authority – Iowa Multifamily Housing Development Award
2017 UNI Emerging Philanthropist Award
In 2018, Brent Dahlstrom co-founded Merge Urban Development Group to serve a unique sector of the real estate development landscape: Opportunity Zones. The Merge team visited over 100 communities within its first six months of operation, seeking progressive leaders that aligned with Merge’s vision to utilize the Opportunity Zone initiative to bring next-generation development to Midwest cities’ urban cores. Merge has four OZ development projects under construction in 2020. Its first Wisconsin project was approved in 2019 and broke ground before the end of last year. Projects across Iowa and Wisconsin have been awarded grants and tax credits for: disaster relief, workforce housing development, Brownfield cleanup, and community development.
In addition to Merge, over the past decade, Brent has continued to grow his real estate development business, Echo Development Group, into one of the most diverse of its kind. Sister-company, Rent Cedar Valley, began as just a few college rentals and now encompasses a portfolio of over 1,400 rental units. This portfolio includes single-family rentals, 10-plex, 12-plex, and large multi-family / mixed-use buildings serving students, millennials, and empty nesters alike.
Outside of the real estate business, Brent has been a successful entrepreneur and partner in many businesses across the Cedar Valley. His first startup was an internet-based event ticket company. Today, he partners with a range of operators across sectors – including boutique fitness, restaurant, transportation, alternative energy and security, recreation and event-based facilities, construction trades, and more. Brent’s attitude toward collaboration and his relentless optimism have elevated his reputation within the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as a credible resource for both knowhow and financial backing.