Monthly Archives: October 2007

A Corridor Weekend

I love the weekend! I love to shop on the weekend! I love to shop and be with my husband! Do I have to choose one?

Ok, most of all I love spending time with my husband (99.95% of the time). Somewhere in his head it is quite romantic to spend three to four hours with 70, 585 of your closest friends, while trying to avoid someone stepping on you as they search for their seat, wondering if the third quarter bee is going to sting you, hoping you are really sitting on the correct seat number and praying the guy next to you doesn’t tip his drink over and then your stuff gets all wet and sticky. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?! For many here in Iowa, my husband included; God Bless Iowa and God Bless the Hawkeyes.

Attending Iowa Football games is one of the many sporting events that we are able to enjoy on a regular basis here in the Eastern Iowa Corridor. The University of Iowa has a rich tradition not only in athletics, but also in academics and its health facilities.

www. hawkeyesports.cstv.com

www.uihealthcare.com/uihospitalsandclinics

Often a day at a Hawk game like today includes not only a great game, but also a chance for me to enjoy some of the great specialty shops and boutiques in the Iowa City/Coralville area.

icdowntown.com– I have so many favorites here that I don’t know where to start…I will add my favorite ped mall shopping list soon

www.coralridgemall.com

On any given Saturday we are both in heaven…shopping, football, you name it the Corridor has it.

Tomorrow I am off to a craft show and an antique show. My husband has graciously offered to let tomorrow be a “girls” shopping day for my mom and I. I think the thought of 150 craft booths is a bit daunting for him. I tried to sweeten the deal by reminding him that the craft show was at Carver Hawkeye Arena where his favorite team plays basketball, but that still was not enough to engage him in a couple hours of standing and purse holding. Though I will miss him, we forge ahead in shopping bliss.

How did I find both of these activities for Sunday you ask? Each Thursday, The Cedar Rapids Gazette Weekend paper is full of a wide range of events for all audiences: www.gazetteonline.comIf you can’t find anything to do then you are not looking hard enough!

For example: Like movies and don’t want to pay full price for even a movie?
There are two discount theaters in Cedar Rapids!
www.collinsroadtheatres.com This particular theater even has real buttered popcorn!

Another great resource for a wide array of events is the Cultural Corridor site: www.culturalcorridor.org
While my husband would rather go to a football game, I would choose a musical. You are able to find listings for both here. This site has a little bit of everything.

After all my ramblings about Saturday and Sunday, I bet some of you are wondering what we did Friday night. Friday was spent with dinner and a movie which actually is something that we both really enjoy. We had the pleasure of seeing The Final Season which was filmed right here in Eastern Iowa. It was so cool to see my high school on the big screen! My junior English teacher was even in it! It is a beautiful film and a true testament to the realness of the great state of Iowa and the great people that live here. Go to www.finalseason.com to see the trailer.

I guess that is about it for this weekend. I might have time left over to catch up on some housework, but I would much rather be out and about exploring all of the wonderful events that Eastern Iowa has to offer and enjoying the beautiful colors of fall. If Friday night had offered more hours in it, you might have seen my husband and I swing dancing. I would have been counting out loud and leading and he would have been watching his feet.

Maybe next weekend.

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Filed under Shopping, Why it's great to live here

Crafting the Corridor Experience

By: Eric Engelmann, President and CEO, Geonetric

Named one of the fastest growing companies in the country by Inc. 5,000.

Recognized as Iowa Software Company of the Year.

Doubled in size to 52 people in the last year. Our company has had an amazing year. This extraordinary growth has provided us with many opportunities, but we’ve also run into numerous challenges – especially recruitment. The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor has proven to be a great marketplace for Geonetric to find bright, creative team members. But, with the amount of growth we have planned, venturing out of the region, and even out of the state, has become necessary. As we’ve embarked on this task, the perception of the Corridor by outsiders has surprised me. This is an incredible place to work and live, but we’re not effectively making this impression.

Recruiting the Best

One impressive candidate we recently interviewed hailed from Minneapolis. Before he came, he told me how he researched the area online using search engines like Google to learn more about the Corridor. I asked him what he discovered. He replied, “Well, I saw that you have a Chili’s® restaurant. And it seems kind of like Fargo.”

That wasn’t exactly what I was hoping to hear.

I dive into the tour, championing easier commutes and safer schools. We discussed the numerous cultural activities and the excitement of Big Ten sports. But he already had his first impression, and it was made online.

His questions centered on possible homes in the Iowa countryside, preferably a farmstead. He wanted to learn about activities for his six- and eight-year-old children, and find information on bike trails. He was curious if the area was dog friendly. All of this information is online somewhere, but not in one place. We haven’t made it easily accessible.

Instead of seeing the fun, diverse, beautiful and safe Corridor that we see, he saw another nondescript city built in the middle of a cornfield with nothing more to offer than national food chains. That was his first impression of the Corridor, and it’s not accurate.

If you were to try the same exercise, looking at our region online, you’ll find that there are half a dozen Chamber of Commerce sites and numerous Convention and Visitor’s bureau sites. Each community has at least one Web site of its own, and most of those have economic development groups that have additional sites of their own. Then there are theme-based sites, such a Cultural Corridor, Corridor Careers, etc. All told, there are hundreds of sites about the area.

Yet, in all of these sites, not one is specifically dedicated to showcasing the Corridor in its entirety. Not one site provided the information that mattered to him.

We need to find a central voice for the Corridor. We have numerous organizations telling different stories to fragmented audiences. It is imperative that we find ownership for the Corridor story, and craft the message that is currently missing.

Promoting the Corridor

The Corridor has numerous farmsteads. We have a Children’s Museum and beautiful recreational areas; we even have dog parks for the family pet. These stories would have made a difference to my recruit, and they will make a difference to hundreds of others out there who are looking to escape big-city life, thinking about moving back home, or just looking for a change.

My sister moved to Raleigh, N.C. without a job because it ‘looked cool.’ She found sites about Raleigh online that intrigued her. Raleigh has effectively managed the impression they want others to derive when they research their city. We need to do the same; we have to improve our first impression.

To build a thriving, high-technology market segment we need to attract creative, innovative, intelligent people to the area. All of these people use the Internet as a key part of their search. If we know there are people out there researching the Corridor, we need to have targeted messages available. We need to tell them a compelling story, one of high-ranking schools and safe neighborhoods, of easy commutes and world-class dining.

Building the Buzz

One way to start telling this story is to create a community blog and having local writers share their thoughts about the Corridor. They can blog about what matters to people considering relocation, such as general discussions about the quality of life and housing. They can blog about the social scene and the job scene, and do so by audience segments so the single 20-somethings and family-focused 40-somethings both can be enticed.

This is just the first step. This is an amazing place to live and work. Let’s tell the world about it!

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Filed under Editorial commentary, Why it's great to live here

Kid-Friendly Corridor

 

My son received a red flag at his 3-year-old preschool. Yes, I know, it’s every mother’s nightmare.  His teacher emailed and described the offense: block throwing.  I agreed with her, this behavior simply can’t be tolerated (although I’ve personally seen him throw blocks on and off for most of his life, so I’m not terribly surprised.)

My husband and I brainstormed ways to fix the behavior, and although it won’t place us in the parenting hall of fame, we both agreed that nothing changes behavior better than rewards. So a new version of the potty chart was created and hung on our kitchen wall.  Every day he didn’t receive a red flag at preschool, he put up a sticker.  Five stickers in a row = fun activity with mom and dad.

So our adventures of finding new and engaging ways to entertain our son led us to uncover numerous activities in the area.  And let me tell you, the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor literally has hundreds of family activities.

I think our first weekend involved Chuck-E-Cheese, or the PlayStation, or some other national chain-like business that doesn’t really scream Unique Corridor Activity.  But, they are here and they work in a pinch. And, I relish any chance I have to remind my husband that I can kick his butt in the basketball toss or skeeball.

Some of our fun, more unique outings included:

  • Old McDonald’s Farm:  This amazing ‘farm’ is located right here in the middle of Cedar Rapids. There are animals to pet and a farm exhibit.  Did I mention it’s FREE?
  • Iowa Children’s Museum: We are absolutely blessed to have this museum in our area. I’ve heard through the grapevine they have a family free nightonce a month.  And, the children’s museum is located in the Coral Ridge Mall – fun for the moms.  You can leave dad and the kids at the old fashioned carouselwhile you check out some sales.
  • Usher’s Ferry: This is like visiting a town right out of the history books, complete with a one-room school house. They have numerous events here, and we’ve taken our son to two: train days and wild, wild west day.
  • Cedar Rapid Kernels: We are a baseball family, and although we do visit Wrigley Field in Chicago at least once a year, we love to support our local club. On most Saturday nights in the summer they have free fireworks after the game, and they are impressive to big and little kids alike!  
  • Splash Pads: It’s like invasion of the splash pads. I wish they’d of had these when I was kid.  Also check the Coralville and Iowa City parks departments Web site’s for additional listings.
  • Pinicon Ridge Park:  This park is about 15-20 minutes from Marion, but it’s worth the drive. There are paddle boats, trails, and in the winter a great sledding hill!  A great place to fish with little ones as well. Oh, and a lookout tower.  It’s tall enough to make my knees get a little shaky, but those fearless kids love it.

As this is the weekend before Halloween, we have many activities planned, including walking on some Haunted Trails at Camp Hitaga outside Walker, IA (about a 30-minute drive from Cedar Rapids), visiting Knight’s Farm in Springville, IA to pick out some pumpkins and enjoy a hayrack ride (about a 20-minute drive) and getting spooked at the kid-friendly haunted house in North Liberty, which is run by the North Liberty Jaycees. 

There is nothing like experiencing the Corridor through the eyes of a child. I know we can actually stop the chart anytime now; he’s learned his new behavior and hasn’t had any more incidents of block-throwing or other criminal behavior. To be honest, I’m looking too forward to the weekends to stop now! 

I know there are a zillion cool activities I’ve missed; this was just a start to get us thinking. Feel free to post your ideas here!

postd by: heatherjoy77

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Filed under Stuff for kids to do