Regional Existing Industry Data Indicates Slight Improvement in Available Workforce and High Satisfaction with Local Education & Infrastructure

Jun 07, 2017

Data from a recently produced Existing Industry Report by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance shows that available workforce remains problematic for some industry sectors; however, there were hints of improvement from 2015 data. On a scale of 1-7, business leaders interviewed in 2016 averaged the availability of workforce in the Cedar Rapids Metro area as 4.01, which is up 0.34 points from 2015.

“Workforce availability continues to be a challenge for our local businesses, but we’re encouraged to see the data reflect a more positive outlook this year,” said Mike Lukan, Local Business Project Specialist, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “Our hope is that the workforce opportunities, regional branding, programming and overall quality of place efforts we’re working toward, are seeping into that most challenging area of our business climate.”

The report also indicates that access to exceptional education at all levels, is one of the community’s biggest assets. Overall satisfaction with Kirkwood Community College received the highest ranking from business leaders. The Kindergarten through college rankings far exceeds schools in Iowa and the nation. Additionally, overall satisfaction with the investments being made to our infrastructure continues to see increased satisfaction ratings, with airline passenger service receiving 4.97 points on a scale from 1-7, which is 0.84 points higher than statewide rankings and 0.42 points higher than national rankings.

“The amount of airline service, airport renovations and easy access were all noted as very positive,” said Lukan. “The Eastern Iowa Airport continues to be a significant asset to the community.”

Areas of opportunity, as cited in the Best of Iowa Report, include focusing on the 28.95% of companies in our region that say they have concerns about future expansion here, and recruitment of the 30% of companies statewide that may not consider their current community for future expansion.

In 2016, the Economic Alliance met with 85 C-level executives, plant managers and site leaders of interstate commerce companies to obtain data, forecasts and opinions to complete the Existing Industry Report. Interviews were primarily done in the 4Q of the year, with 75% of respondents from Cedar Rapids and 95% from Linn County.

The comprehensive tool used to collect existing industry data provides in-depth analytics that the Economic Alliance compares to similar state and national data. Using the Blane, Canada Synchronist® Business Information System, the growth, risk, value, and satisfaction of each company is measured and insights gleaned are used to drive the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance’s priorities for business recruitment and expansion, workforce development, community development, business support, public policy and quality of life.

The Economic Alliance maintains existing outreach programs with other member communities, report generation and state-level reporting to the “Best of Iowa” project, a statewide existing industry program.

View the 2016 Existing Industry Report here.

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