Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Marion seek new director for Collaborative Growth Initiative

The initiative acts as a partnership between the cities of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion, dedicated to growing the region’s workforce.

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance (CRMEA) is seeking a new full-time Talent Attraction Director to lead its Collaborative Growth Initiative. 

The initiative acts as a partnership between the cities of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion, dedicated to growing the region’s workforce, as well as leveraging and coordinating public and private sector resources. 

The Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District Commission (SSMID) voted at its May 29 meeting to hire the new director. It also approved the establishment of an in-person storefront in Cedar Rapids, as well as to dedicate private funds to enliven the city’s urban center.  

According to a press release from CRMEA, the partners of the initiative collaborated on a wide-ranging report on demographics, perceptions, and strategies for the region’s growth. The report emphasized the need for a specific position dedicated to the implementation of said growth strategies, which led to the search for a director.

Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly noted in the release how the initiative provides an opportunity for the different areas within the region to work together. 

“Each of the cities in the region can lead on some strategies, but this is going to take a comprehensive effort by leaders from all sectors,” Mr. AbouAssaly said in the release. 

At this year’s State of the City address, Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell also noted the need for a director of the initiative. 

“We have amazing communities to promote and a strong plan for growth,” Ms. O’Donnell said at the event. “Now that we have identified target markets filled with potential talent with the exact skills that the Greater Cedar Rapids region is seeking, our efforts can shift to implementation.”

According to the release, the report outlines the area’s numerous long-term growth efforts. One of the earliest goals is to use digital marketing to attract workers with specific skills from Wisconsin, the metro areas of Chicago, Denver, and Minneapolis, and areas of southern California, including Los Angeles.

The individual hired will also help coordinate the local initiative with a statewide version and create a new Workforce Innovation Council of area stakeholders to help bring a variety of expertise to the initiative.

“We have some momentum right now,” Hiawatha Mayor Steve Dodson said in the release. “Let’s keep working together to build on that.”