Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance marks record year for business attraction in 2022

Economic development group responds to 22 RFPs in past 10 months

A photo of a Sub-Zero facility in Arizona that is expected to be a similar style as the proposed Cedar Rapids building. Renderings were not presented during the meeting.
A photo of a Sub-Zero facility in Arizona that is expected to be a similar style as the proposed Cedar Rapids building. Renderings were not presented during the meeting. CREDIT CITY OF CEDAR RAPIDS

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance (CRMEA) has responded to 22 requests for proposals (RFPs) in the past 10 months, marking a record year for business attraction in the area.

“Every community needs to diversify their economy,” said Ron Corbett, vice president of economic development at the Economic Alliance, in a release. “Bringing new businesses to the community helps lessen the tax burden on existing industry and homeowners. These new jobs also help replace lost jobs, especially during a recession.”

The total capital investment from the RFPs totals over $12 billion and would create more than 9,000 jobs. While it is unlikely to land every proposal, Economic Alliance leaders know communities like Cedar Rapids “can’t win if they don’t play” in the business attraction realm.

There have been some significant economic development successes this year. For example, Sub-Zero, an appliance manufacturer based out of Madison, Wis., announced plans earlier this summer to build a second location in Cedar Rapids. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will create 180 high-quality jobs with a capital investment of $140 million.

“The Cedar Rapids Metro is on the radar screen of site selectors around the country,” Mr. Corbett said. “The availability of our land and infrastructure makes our region very attractive. Having support from our local government, who want to see growth in our community, has been very beneficial for our community to make it to the final selection rounds.”

“There is an extraordinary interest in Cedar Rapids,” Cedar Rapids mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said. “Selling our community’s many benefits to prospective employers is an important priority. Site selectors tell me they’re drawn to our ideal location, transportation network access, high-quality water, reliable utilities, and shovel-ready sites. With significant potential for business expansion and growth, the future shines bright for Cedar Rapids.”

A majority of the RFP’s the Economic Alliance has responded to are manufacturing or bioscience related, but the CRMEA doesn’t shy away from branching out into other industries, Mr. Corbett said.

“We have bid on three electric vehicle (EV) industry related projects,” he said. “Although we were unsuccessful in landing those projects thus far, we still feel there are opportunities as the geography of the EV industry expands outside of the auto belt.”

While business attraction is important to the overall economic health of the region, the Economic Alliance says it spends 80% of its time helping and assisting existing businesses in the community, highlighted by the $19 million expansion at JRS Pharma and a $20 million expansion at Red Star Yeast.

With 2023 on the horizon, business attraction is still a large part of the overall economic development strategy, but CRMEA leaders say a strong emphasis will be placed on increasing the workforce.

“It’s important for our community to work together and recruit employees from outside our own community,” CRMEA executive director Doug Neumann said. “Hiring a neighboring business’ employee doesn’t help grow our population base and isn’t sustainable to building a vibrant community.”

Economic Development and workforce are two of the five core functions within the Economic Alliance. Along with promoting the region, supporting small businesses, and advocating our community to policy leaders, the Economic Alliance serves as the primary contact for businesses interested in expanding or relocating to the Cedar Rapids metro area.

For more information about the Economic Alliance, go to cedarrapids.org.