The Wind is Behind Us Now: Impacts from a Derecho and a Pandemic

Aug 04, 2021

Economic Alliance distributing water and food after Derecho in 2020.It certainly goes without saying that our surrounding area and economy have all been significantly impacted by the blows we’ve taken in the past 18 months. Just when everyone thought 2020 couldn’t get any crazier, the Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas experienced a “Derecho”, or inland hurricane last August that added to the chaos of economic recovery. Despite the odds, during 2020 our region showed resiliency and incredible growth with 24 expansion projects totaling $595,650,000 in capital investment. (Source: Building to a Billion and Beyond)

So, how are we doing now?

We are keeping the momentum alive in 2021 with nine projects to date totaling $235,350,000 of continued capital investment. One area that has seen dramatic growth in recent months is the area near the Eastern Iowa Airport and the Wright Brothers exit off I-380. Worley, UPS, FedEx and others have all expanded or are in the process of building and expanding into that area. This may be due to the fact that 50% of all air cargo for Iowa now comes through Cedar Rapids. (Source: Marty Lenss, Airport Director at the Eastern Iowa Airport.) That is a drastically large number that calls for and encourages growth in the surrounding area.

The Economic Alliance receives leads for potential businesses looking at expanding in the ICR region. We call this the business attraction pipeline and currently, it is very robust. More than 12 projects or companies are expressing interest in locating to the region and represent capital investment of more than 8.9 billion. There are two reasons for the activity that stand out among many; changes in the supply chain due to the pandemic crisis and the Amazon effect of last mile delivery—that is manufacturers competing with Amazon Prime for speedy and efficient delivery of goods. ICR is conveniently located for delivery, geographically situated four hours from major metropolitan areas including Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Omaha. We are excited to see the continued growth and development in our area and are excited to continue to move forward with the wind behind us.

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