A SSMID Summary: 2020 Community Development Progress & initiatives

May 25, 2021

2020 brought a lot--and so did the Downtown Cedar Rapids Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) in beautification, placemaking, clean-up efforts and more.

The Downtown SSMID was once again a sponsor of the Greene Square Ambassador program—a partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids Public Library, Linn County, and Willis Dady that aims to provide more oversight, peacekeeping, and issue resolution during the warmer seasons into the fall primarily in the Greene Square and GTC areas of Downtown. In addition to this program, a partnership with Willis Dady that began in May 2020, added more than 1,000 additional hours to Downtown SSMID district cleaning and upkeep.

Twenty new Big Belly trash compactor units were purchased and installed in 2020. These modernized trash receptacles can hold up to 10x the capacity of typical garbage cans due to their solar-powered compaction abilities. They also contain sensor technology that informs our crew when nearing and at capacity. Ten of the units offer a recycling option and all twenty units have side paneling that can serve as high visibility locations for Downtown business or event advertising as well as locations for additional public art.

The Downtown SSMID took the lead on derecho clean up efforts utilizing Downtown Ops Team, EA staff, and nearly 500 hours of volunteer support in the days following the storm. Fortunately, in the madness post-storm, the group was able to preserve almost 6,500 flowers and plants.

The group expanded the overall layout and décor for Downtown during holiday season with festive tree lighting, cheery ornamentation at intersections and decorations in planters. Feedback from business owners and general public has been immensely positive, and the lights have continued to shine into 2021 adding vibrancy and life into the downtown district.

While 2020 surely had it’s fair share of ups and downs, we’re optimistic that heading into the warmer months of 2021 there is much to look forward to: continuation of the work on the Cedar Lake portion of the five-year commitment from Downtown SSMID for ConnectCR, ambitious mural projects and illumination of several more buildings downtown to help light the Cedar Rapids skyline. The spring is looking bright.

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