116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — After more than 30 years in the community, the Iowa Innovation Learning Center, formerly known as the Cedar Rapids Science Center, announced Tuesday it is permanently closing following a tumultuous history of financial difficulties and location changes.
While the non-profit organization designed to engage children in science and technology ceased operations last fall, officials were hopeful the effort could continue.
Executive Director Randy Bachman said Tuesday the center will transition some of its curriculum and summer camp programs to Imagination Iowa, a locally based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) non-profit organization.
'We needed sponsors and contributors and donations and things like that to be able to help us sustain (the operation) but unfortunately, that hasn't happened as much as we needed it to in recent years,' Bachman said. 'While unfortunately we're not going to have a Science Center anymore, it's fortunate we have people in the community that care and want to make sure we have programs like this going forward.'
The Iowa Innovation Learning Center opened as the Science Station in 1985, a project developed by the Junior League to create science-based learning opportunities for children.
But what once was a popular downtown destination for kids ended its operations last year with only three part-time employees and a handful of volunteers.
The organization moved three times in seven years after being displaced by the 2008 floods before landing at its final home at 705 N. Center Point Road in Hiawatha. Previous locations included a former grocery store and Lindale Mall.
Tax documents illustrate the financial difficulties the organization faced.
In 2013, it spent $186,069 more than it received in revenue, the documents show. One of the center's biggest money-losing operations was its museum. In 2013, it cost $124,684 to operate, records show, but it brought in only $18,441 in revenue. That same year, the center spent $102,735 on its educational programs, which generated $31,271 in revenue.
One of the center's few successful initiatives, however, was its summer camp program, which is why it will transfer those ideas to another non-profit.
'The materials are there for them to take it in any direction,' Bachman said. 'It's in great hands. We're excited that we've got a great partner to transfer all the STEM related camps toward. For me, that's a huge win. We haven't lost everything.'