Category Archives: Editorial commentary

The Corridor

The Corridor
What it is . . . why it’s important

The Technology Corridor is a multi-county region combining the culture and the commuting patterns of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City metropolitan areas and its neighbors.

From energetic cosmopolitan metro areas, friendly communities to the beauty and serenity of the University of Iowa campus, scenic vistas, gentle rolling hillsides and pastoral tranquility, the Corridor is a reflection of diverse businesses, populations and cultural communities.

The Corridor is more than a roadway, passage or route. The Corridor is the historic heart, focal point and business hub of eastern Iowa. There are extraordinary advantages, coalitions and services that make living and doing business in the Corridor compelling.
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Get Involved, Move Up, Feel Safe

Three of the biggest benefits to living in a state like Iowa — and Cedar Rapids in particular, flood or no flood — are:

  1. It’s easy to get involved in activities you enjoy.
  2. The area is conducive to strengthening your career.
  3. It’s a place where you don’t have to worry about your personal safety most of the time.

Getting Involved

I can’t think of a more welcoming place than Iowa. And some of the most welcoming people are involved in nonprofit organizations. Volunteering is a great way to get to know those people who care about the same things you do. And now, with the aftermath of the Great Flood looming and many organizations and families displaced, people need your help more than ever. The Red Cross and other disaster relief orgs will likely need help for many weeks to come.

Love animals? The humane society would love your help. Love kids? Get involved in kids programs at the public library, the History Center or some other museum. The list goes on. Whether you’re passionate about finding a cure for a disease or helping persons with disabilities have a little fun (like I do at Miracles in Motion), you can easily find a way to put your skills to use and engage in a worthwhile activity.

Clubs are another way to get involved. Enthusiasts can have a great time around here! Just the few things I’m aware of are bike clubs, car clubs, service organizations, industry-specific groups (like the one I’m in — AAF:CR-IC), speaking clubs, flyball dog groups, etc. etc. The nice thing is, the commute is short, so you have time for family and yet you don’t have to give up your fun stuff.

Strengthening Your Career

Many fascinating industries populate the Corridor, from biotech to Web-related, transportation to food. They are all looking for quality individuals willing to work hard to make their products and services better. If you’re smart and dedicated, you can probably find yourself on a career track you’ll enjoy for many years.

Another career builder more readily available here is obtaining board experience. Many nonprofits and for-profits want people to help them in decisionmaking, raising capital and the like. It’s good for them to have you share your expertise and for you to have the opportunity to grow something beyond your 9 to 5.

Leave Your Worries Behind

Driving down the street at night, I rarely, if ever, worry about getting carjacked or some other crazy stuff going down. Although violent crime sometimes does strike, it is rare, and it’s even rarer that the bad guy gets away. Honestly, I have come to take for granted the freedom I have to do things like jog by myself or take a walk at night — things I wouldn’t consider doing in cities like Chicago or many areas of Minneapolis.

While I enjoy those cities during short visits, I know that the stress level of city life would take its toll at times. We have it pretty good in those respects here in Iowa.

Ruth Paarmann, owner of Paarlance Creative Writing, loves the idea of luring other former Iowans back to the state!

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It’s the Year of the River in Cedar Rapids

If you’re local to the Cedar Rapids area you’ve probably heard of this year referred to as the “Year of the River.”  I saw the slogan on a recent newsletter from the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and decided to investigate.

In May, 2007 the City of Cedar Rapids and Linn County proclaimed 2008 the Year of the River. The City of Cedar Rapids’ Web site stated that they hoped doing so would bring attention to the Riverfront and generate private and public investment.

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The Smaller Side of the Corridor

Chalk the Walk event in Mt. Vernon reminds us all that the smaller towns contribute to the Corridor’s quality of life.

I know the purpose of this blog is talk about the Corridor – and even as a local I’m not exactly sure what we mean by the Corridor. I think at one time a study was completed that said Cedar Rapids and Iowa City technically act as one metro area, based on whatever factors studies like that consider important.  The economies are shared. The citizens zoom back and forth on I-380 like Chicagoans drive across town for a great restaurant.  There are so few miles between the two and the people are so intertwined in both cities they could statistically be counted as one. 

I know the Corridor technically refers to the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area.  But I don’t think the Corridor can be so easily defined.  It’s not bounded by highways or city limits.  It’s more than just Cedar Rapids and Iowa City; it’s also the small towns in the area that consider this their home.  Places like Mt. Vernon, West Branch, and Central City may not technically be the Corridor, but the people that live there and the shops, restaurants and activities from these towns undoubtedly contribute to why the Corridor is so inviting.
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Corridor life among the best in the nation

Recent media reports indicate Corridor communities and Iowa are among the best in the nation to live, work and play. Population and per capita income are up and the region is a great place to launch a business!

Read on . . .

Forbes rankings and ratings

Forbes magazine ranks Corridor metro areas among the best in the nation for business. Cedar Rapids No. 44 in the U.S. for business and careers. Iowa City is ranked No. 2 on Forbes’ “best small places for business and careers.”

Forbes ranks Iowa City ranks No. 8 “Up and Coming Tech Cities.” The magazine credits new venture capital and private equity firms that target renewable energy start-ups and the Grow Iowa Value Fund support of the University of Iowa’s Centers for Enterprise.

The 2008 Forbes’ America’s Smartest Cities Web site list names Iowa City No. 10 in the U.S. The list ranks cities based on the percentage of the population age 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree. Information is posted to Sperling’s BestPlaces at www.bestplaces.net.

Forbes Small Business magazine ranks Iowa City No. 21 of 100 “Best Small Places to Live and Launch” a business or career. The rating is based on a mix of business advantages and lifestyle appeal. The magazine states: “In recent years the economic Corridor that stretches from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids has emerged as a powerful locus of economic growth, not only in film, but also in computer simulation, bioengineering and renewable energy.”

University of Iowa

Financial Times named University of Iowa Tippie College of Business graduate accounting program among the world’s top 10. Tippie School of Management overall MBA program is No. 55 in the world; and No. 25 in the nation.

The University of Iowa is listed No. 1 in funding by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health. Grant funding to UI by the NIDCR for fiscal year 2007 totaled more than $12 million. The amount represents grant recipients from across the entire UI campus.

Population and income

Corridor communities rank among top 100 cities for income growth

Iowa tied two states (Massachusetts and Hawaii) for No. 8 per capita income growth for the period 2006 to 2007. According to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Iowa’s personal income grew 6 percent from $33,038 to $35,023. The national per capita personal income national growth was 5.2 percent to $38,611. In 2006, Cedar Rapids per capita personal income was $35,344, ranking No. 97 among metro areas nationwide; Iowa City’s per capita personal income was $35,936 ranking the city No. 88 nationwide.

Iowa becomes a metro state, Corridor communities gain population

Since the 2000 U.S. Census, 23 Iowa counties grew. Of those, 20 counties have metro area or are adjacent to one. The largest growth was in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Des Moines metros.

Johnson County (12.8 percent) and Linn County (7 percent) leads eastern Iowa growth. Iowa’s population is now 2,988,044 representing a 59,800 population growth.

During the period July 1, 2000, to July 1, 2007, Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) grew from 23,320 to 252,784; Iowa City MSA grew from 131,676 to 147,038 and Des Moines from 481,394 to 546,599.

Iowa City’s population grew 1.7 percent for a gain of 2,389 residents from 2006 to 2007. Cedar Rapids population grew 1.3 percent during the same time period. Johnson County gained 2,222 residents for a total of 125,692, from July 2006 to July 2007, ranking No. 4 in the state with a 1.8 population growth.

Linn County went from 192,293 to 205,836 – a growth of 13,543 people; Johnson County went from 111,474 to 125,692 – a growth of 14,218 people.

The nation grew by 7 percent during the same time period; the Midwest region grew 3 percent overall. (Three-fourths of the state’s 99 counties lost population since 2000.)

Of Iowa City population, ages 25 and older, 42.26 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. More than 91 percent graduated high school, 4.35 percent have a doctorate and 4.02 percent have a professional degree.

State rankings

Iowa ranks No. 1 in egg production, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture and studies by Iowa State University Extension.

Iowa is No. 1 “Best Quality of Life” and “Best States for Business” – “Forbes” magazine

Iowa is No. 2 in healthcare – Commonwealth Fund State Scorecard

Iowa students are ranked No. 3 in the nation for composite ACT scores

Iowa ranked No. 4 nationally in capital investment – “U.S. Investment Monitor 2006” report by Ernst & Young and Quantitative Economics and Statistics Practice

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