Constructing Our Future with Billions in Schools, Infrastructure and Water Improvements

Jul 11, 2019

The decade spanning from 2010-2020 has seen much of the Cedar Rapids metro area engrossed in flood recovery. National discussion around infrastructure continues as roads, bridges, railways, locks and dams, airports, and sewer and water systems degrade with age. In the coming decade of 2020-2030, the Iowa City - Cedar Rapids (ICR) region will be positioned to construct the future of our communities with new schools, infrastructure and water improvements. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance advocates for these through public policy efforts on behalf of our members and the region.

Plans developed by local cities, the state of Iowa and the federal government are in place to address infrastructure needs that will bring billions of dollars of investment for improvements. Said improvements will set the stage for more jobs, workforce retention and local prosperity. The community has seen a historic flood, grown with a historic recovery and will now embark on a historic build with five areas of considerable improvement and reinforcement.

Flood Protection

Flood protection is high on the list, with funds appointed and in place to construct Cedar Rapids’ flood control system. Several sections are started, and these important improvements will continue throughout the next decade with a projected $550 million in project work that includes roller gates, walls and pump stations. Additionally, the Economic Alliance supports the City of Cedar Rapids’ efforts to realize the needed local funding to complete the full plan.

Transportation projects

Transportation improvements are imperative to grow and retain workforce. Ease of commute is shown as a selling point for talent to relocate here. Additionally, trucking and logistics companies locate here because of our quality transportation system. The Eastern Iowa Airport is critical for both goods transport and commercial travel, and will invest $107 million in runway renovations in the next five years. More than $1 billion in road and street improvements are slated for the next decade, including the City of Cedar Rapids’ Paving for Progress street improvements, Interstate 80/380 exchange renovations, and Tower Terrace and Boyson Road exchange implementation. The Economic Alliance’s public policy advocacy work supported the metro area’s local option sales tax efforts for road improvement, as well as advocating for the Tower Terrace and Boyson Road exchange and the Interstate 80/380 exchange renovation. The Economic Alliance successfully lobbied for the state gas tax increase several years ago to go toward infrastructure improvements and we continue to advocate for a federal gas tax increase that will generate more funds toward needed local infrastructure improvements.

School Improvements

Education has long been a strength of not only the Cedar Rapids metro, but all of the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids region. With workforce as a big need in the community, investment in education is imperative. Modern facilities and building upgrades will provide students the best learning environment. The Economic Alliance advocated for the extension of the SAVE penny sales tax to fund school infrastructure. More than $350 million in school construction projects is forecasted over the next decade including Cedar Rapids Community School District’s elementary and intermediate school construction and improvements, and Marion, Linn-Mar, and College Community school improvements. Future Ready Iowa funding is something the Economic Alliance has also advocated for preparing the next generation of the workforce. The initiative recently received $16 million in skills training funding.

Wastewater & Sewer Projects

Agribusiness requires large amounts of wastewater capacity. The food and bioprocessing industries, as well as the industries that support these, make up a significant portion of the local economy with high-paying jobs and contracts. The multiplier effect has a great impact to the local economy. The cities of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Marion and Robins have more than $300 million combined to complete wastewater and sewer improvements in the next 10 years.

Water Utility Improvements

Clean water utilities must also be maintained and expanded in positioning our community for growth. Census data shows our population will continue to grow, making reliable utilities even more important. The Economic Alliance continues to advocate for water quality improvements. More than $275 million in water utility projects and system upgrades are expected from 2020-2030 in Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hiawatha and Robins.

All these improvements help create an environment for a thriving workforce and help fulfill the Economic Alliance’s mission to be the top economic growth region in the country. Through its core function of Public Policy, the Economic Alliance, along with our partners at the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, will continue to advocate as one voice for economic growth policies key to our members and the region.

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