2022 has been a monumental year for economic development in the community. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance has responded to 22 request for proposals (RFP) in the past 10 months, which marks a record year for business attraction in the area.
“Every community needs to diversify their economy,” said Ron Corbett, vice president of economic development at the Economic Alliance. “Bringing new businesses to the community helps lessen the tax burden on existing industry and homeowners. These new jobs also help replace lost jobs, especially during a recession.”
The total capital investment from the projects the Economic Alliance responded to totaled over $12 billion and would have created more than 9,000 jobs. While it is unlikely to land every proposal, the Economic Alliance knows a community “can’t win if they don’t play”, so careful attention is spent on each request.
Sub-Zero, an appliance manufacturer based out of Madison, WI, announced its plans to build a 2nd location in Cedar Rapids earlier this summer. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will create 180 high-quality jobs with a capital investment of $140 million. Gaining attention from these kinds of businesses is helping put Cedar Rapids on the map of places companies look to for possible expansion.
“The Cedar Rapids Metro is on the radar screen of site selectors around the country,” said Corbett. “The availability of our land and infrastructure makes our region very attractive. Having support from our local government, who want to see growth in our community, has been very beneficial for our community to make it to the final selection rounds.”
“There is an extraordinary interest in Cedar Rapids. Selling our community’s many benefits to prospective employers is an important priority,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell. “Site selectors tell me they’re drawn to our ideal location, transportation network access, high-quality water, reliable utilities, and shovel-ready sites. With significant potential for business expansion and growth, the future shines bright for Cedar Rapids.”
An overwhelming majority of the RFP’s the Economic Alliance has responded to are manufacturing or bioscience related but branching out into other industries is something the Economic Alliance doesn’t shy away from. Corbett added, “We have bid on three electric vehicle (EV) industry related projects. Although we were unsuccessful in landing those projects thus far, we still feel there are opportunities as the geography of the EV industry expands outside of the auto belt.”
While business attraction is important to the overall economic health of the region, the Economic Alliance spends 80% of its time helping and assisting existing businesses in the community. A recent example of this is the $19 million expansion at JRS Pharma and a $20 million expansion at Red Star Yeast.
With 2023 on the horizon, business attraction is still a large part of the overall economic development strategy, but a strong emphasis will be put on increasing the workforce. Doug Neumann, executive director of the Economic Alliance, said “It’s important for our community to work together and recruit employees from outside our own community. Hiring a neighboring business’ employee doesn’t help grow our population base and isn’t sustainable to building a vibrant community.”
Economic Development and workforce are two of the five core functions within the Economic Alliance. Along with promoting the region, supporting small businesses, and advocating our community to policy leaders, the Economic Alliance serves as the primary contact for businesses interested in expanding or relocating to the Cedar Rapids Metro area. For more information about the Economic Alliance, go to www.cedarrapids.org.