History and Progress

Skyline view of downtown Cedar Rapids and Mays Island

The Cedar Rapids community has seen an incredible amount of change over the past several years, due largely from the impact of the 2008 flood. The Economic Alliance is playing a part in assisting the City of Cedar Rapids with flood protection efforts through public policy advocacy and community outreach. As a staunch supporter and advocate for state and federal dollars, the EA has assisted the City of Cedar Rapids in securing $264 million over 20 years to build a flood protection system on both sides of the Cedar River. Read about the Cedar Rapids Flood Control System on the City of Cedar Rapids' website.

25 Years of Development in 5 Years: Opportunity Out of Flood

First avenue in Cedar Rapids under water during the June 2008 flood

By Doug Neumann, Economic Alliance Executive Director

Much has changed in 10 years. In June 2008, Iowa was hit by a devastating flood, and the epicenter of economic damage was in downtown Cedar Rapids. The flood itself was unimaginable. The damage, almost incalculable. The recovery has been nothing short of incredible.

As part of the Cedar Rapids Downtown District during the 2008 flood, I witnessed first-hand the heart and strategic approach this community had to rebuild. I also had a front-row seat to efforts in Iowa City, Coralville, Palo and other eastern Iowa communities that were just as resilient. We collectively had an opportunity to really transform the region, and we have. I often say we did 25 years of development in five years! And now, 10 years past the disaster, the momentum has yet to wane.

In 2007, the Economic Alliance (then the Downtown District) along with other community partners, commissioned the first “Vision Downtown Cedar Rapids” plan, which provided a broad understanding of downtown’s purpose and helped to direct the energy and resources of future downtown development opportunities.

We were grateful to have this Vision Downtown Cedar Rapids plan waiting to be used and implemented after the Flood of 2008. That strategic plan, among many other collaborations and hard work, has paid off for what our city is today. After five years, 32 of the 40 plan recommendations had been completed or were in the process of being completed, opening the opportunity for the next phase of the vision plan to be conducted again in 2012, and then more recently in 2017.

Other neighborhoods and districts showed similar resolve in executing on vision plans and sustaining progress over this past decade. The community has truly has been a beacon of progress. So much so that it recently caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal, which noted the almost 40% increase in gross domestic product over the last eight years along with several other impressive economic growth statistics.

Now, a decade after the flood and to commemorate our resiliency, KCRG-TV9 and The Gazette are teaming up to host a community event open to the public on 'crest-day' June 13. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance will take part in a Community Showcase starting at 4:30 p.m. that will feature live music and entertainment and the opportunity for guests to learn more about achievements since 2008 and upcoming events and initiatives.

As all of the Economic Alliance's legacy organizations played an integral role in revitalizing the region after the 2008 flood, we're honored to have the opportunity to be part of a 90 minute live program hosted by KCRG anchors, Bruce Aune and Beth Malicki, featuring interview-style segments about the rebuild, system and development milestones.

We have a lot to be proud of, and more opportunity than ever to keep growing!

Doug Neumann
Executive Director

Cedar Rapids’ Accolades and National Rankings

“All American City in 2014 by the National Civic League, only 6 short years after the flood of 2008.”

“Blue Zone Community”

“Cedar Rapids was named one of the 10 Best Affordable Places to Live, 2016 by Livability.com”

Flood Protection Resources

Get more information about flood protection plans and recovery information from the City of Cedar Rapids. Plus, read the latest Downtown Vision Plan.

Business Long Term Recovery

The small business initiative, Business Long Term Recovery, was introduced Feb. 2010 through collective flood relief efforts. Read more about how flood-damaged businesses have benefitted.

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