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New Competition Races into Downtown Cedar Rapids in 2022

April 27, 2022 | Community Development

Downtown Cedar Rapids' Race for the Space Program

They say opportunity knocks softly. A new competition is coming to downtown Cedar Rapids in 2022, and it’s an opportunity knocking pretty loudly.

Race for the Space is a new program for businesses to go head-to-head for the opportunity to win $20,000 which will go towards rent & build-out for a selected property in downtown Cedar Rapids. In addition to the $20,000, the selected business will also receive a $7,500 credit towards architectural design services and buildout support with Form Function Studio and a complimentary 8-week owner education course to build a more valuable business provided by BerganKDV. The competition is being produced by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and funded by the Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District. Race for the Space is one of the first of its kind for the region, with inspiration coming from downtown Ithaca, New York.

“It’s been a difficult two years with the pandemic and the derecho, but downtown Cedar Rapids has seen incredible momentum,” stated Jesse Thoeming, Downtown Executive Director. “With new housing opportunities, expansion of large employers, thriving cultural amenities, and growing attendance to downtown events, now felt like the right time to keep that momentum going by seeking out the next exciting, must-see, new downtown hot spot in the district.”

Who is Race for the Space looking for? The sky’s the limit. The selected business could be an experiential retailer, new entrepreneur, event space, maker-space, dual-purpose business, current business looking for a second location or a wildly different culinary experience. In a world that is increasingly shifting to online interactions, we’re looking for someone with a big idea that will draw people to Downtown Cedar Rapids; thus leading to more foot traffic for existing businesses and our cultural attractions.

The Race for the Space application will be available at on Wednesday, April 27 and will close on Thursday, June 30. Finalists for the Race for the Space program will be asked to present their business concept at a “Shark Tank” style event the beginning of August with the announcement of a winner shortly after. If you’re interested in supporting Race for the Space or want to learn more, reach out to Jesse Thoeming, Downtown Executive Director, at or Nikki Wilcox, Communications Director, at