Business

Cedar Rapids aims to boost its food, agricultural industries

The city and Iowa State released a report Wednesday they hope helps with the effort

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart leans in to say “Go Cyclones!” as Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen prepares to speak during a news conference on the partnership between Iowa State and Cedar Rapids in the agricultural and bioprocessing industries at the DoubleTree convention center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart leans in to say “Go Cyclones!” as Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen prepares to speak during a news conference on the partnership between Iowa State and Cedar Rapids in the agricultural and bioprocessing industries at the DoubleTree convention center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Leaders from Cedar Rapids and Iowa State University said Wednesday they hope a new report will help Cedar Rapids build on its legacy of food and agricultural-related production.

Representatives of both released a study — titled the “Cedar Rapids Food and Bioprocessors Manufacturing Report” — Wednesday, which laid out what companies, such as Quaker Oats and Cargill, make in the city. The report, essentially an inventory of the grains processed in Cedar Rapids and how it is done, is intended to give the city and business a tool for potential future expansion, leaders said at a news conference.

“We believe the report will really be helpful for this city as they’re focused on retaining and growing businesses in Cedar Rapids. It gives a sense of what the opportunities might be,” Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen said.

By showing what is made in the city, Cedar Rapids and businesses can identify ways to boost production, add new products or attract new companies that benefit from the existing industry, said Joe Colletti, interim dean of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. For instance, byproducts from an existing company’s waste stream could be used by another to produce something else.

“The report really addresses these questions of ‘well, what else can we do? What existing technology could we change and tweak in some way to actually add more value to co-products? Or what new technology can we bring into the market?’” Colletti said.

Colletti said food and bioprocessing companies in Cedar Rapids generate $4.8 billion for the economy annually and employ about 5,000 people. Companies in those industries that have a Cedar Rapids presence include Quaker Oats, General Mills, Ingredion, Diamond V, Cargill and Archers Daniel Midland, among others.

“That’s a tremendous impact for this economy, for the state of Iowa,” he said.

The report is a result of a partnership Cedar Rapids and the university first formed in 2015.

“The partnership with Iowa State University allows us to leverage the expertise we have in our own backyard and assist industries in fostering growth and ultimately creating new jobs in our community,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said Wednesday.

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The city and Iowa State leaders pointed to the report as one of the bigger accomplishments of their partnership. They also created a staff position in 2015 to serve as a liaison between Cedar Rapids and the university. The position is currently vacant, but the city and university are reworking a job description to hire for the post.

Cedar Rapids and Iowa State share in the cost of the position’s salary, with Cedar Rapids contributing about 25 percent, Pomeranz said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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