Good News in Uncertain Times - 2020 Existing Industry Update

May 25, 2021

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance uses the Existing Industry Survey to get an annual update on the pulse of interstate commerce companies in the Cedar Rapids metro area, including Benton, Linn and Jones counties. By partnering with local business leaders to collect this data, we are able to see regional trends year-over-year. Here are a few key highlights from the impact in 2020.

Our region’s companies demonstrated adaptability and resiliency despite having to endure a global pandemic and natural disaster in the same year. We are relieved to report that 73% of interstate companies in Benton, Linn and Jones counties are not experiencing financial stress.

As of Fall 2020, 79% of companies interviewed report that they are operating at regular levels and hours of operation, and 7% report they have needed to add hours of operation to meet increased customer demand. As a region with a concentration of essential industries, many manufacturing companies maintained or increased operations, as much as the available workforce would allow. When looking at companies who export internationally, 85% report that their export sales have been steady or have increased over recent months.

While some high level metrics indicate an overall stability in the region’s interstate economy, we are not blind to many of the critical challenges faced by the region and area businesses. There are many unknowns that come with a pandemic, and that uncertainty makes long-term plans and conducting business a challenge. 48% of respondents indicate “economic uncertainty” as one of the company’s greatest barriers for complete recovery.

In pre-pandemic times, this survey has found that around 60% of companies have some plan to expand in the subsequent 3 years. In Fall 2020, only 35% of businesses indicated that they have plans to expand in the next 3 years, slightly above the statewide 2020 average of 31%.

While it appears things are certainly on the upward trend, there are still many unknowns and much action to be taken in the upcoming year to get us all back on track. Be on the lookout for a full Existing Industry Report to be released in the coming months.

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