Guest Columnist

Corbett: Cedar Rapids remains open for business

Mays Island on the Cedar River showing the Veterans Memorial Building, Linn County Courthouse, and Linn County Jail in an aerial photograph in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Mays Island on the Cedar River showing the Veterans Memorial Building, Linn County Courthouse, and Linn County Jail in an aerial photograph in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

“A rising tide lifts all boats” is one phrase often used to describe economic development projects — both with existing business expansion and new business attraction. Growth projects create jobs and bring capital investment, ultimately flowing more dollars into our economy. Every project is cause for celebration.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19 the Cedar Rapids City Council has an opportunity to extend an already fantastic year of being open for business, as economic development packages for several local expansion projects are slated for review and potential approval on the Council agenda. These projects cover a wide variety of industry in our community, including small business and large agribusiness. With each new job and every dollar of capital investment, opportunities expand for Cedar Rapids workers and families and a larger tax base keeps taxes on homes lower.

Combined, these projects will comprise a significant percentage of the jobs and capital expenditures added by Cedar Rapids interstate commerce companies in 2019. It will be truly a banner day for the City Council.

The Economic Alliance compiles and celebrates expansion projects in our metro area cities and throughout the region’s business community that will total almost $1 billion by 2020. Listing them all together in our “Building to a Billion” report makes for an impressive list and shows the health of our economy. In 2019 alone, we list information on 35 economic development projects in the Cedar Rapids metro that include $588.5 million in capital investment.

Existing businesses represent some of our largest potential for economic growth. Business expansion projects can mean building out an existing location, creating new jobs within a current facility or building a second location in the area. Driving around the Cedar Rapids metro, it’s impossible to not see signs of growth like construction sites and renderings for new or enhanced buildings. Great things can happen when we are open for business. Success breeds success and can contribute to a positive cycle of growth and attraction to our business community.

The world of economic development is competitive. Given the chance, other regions would jump at the chance to court our area’s largest employers. Our region has a high-quality workforce, available land for development, excellent schools, the list goes on. But we’re hardly the only region in the nation to tout those qualities. A business-friendly climate is always a factor when businesses select where to expand.

We encourage City Council to finish the year strong with the approval of these projects set before them on Tuesday. Let’s keep the ball rolling toward certainty in an ever-changing environment and stay open for business.

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Ron Corbett is business retention and expansion strategist for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and is a former mayor of Cedar Rapids.

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