The Steering Committee of the Regional Vision Rising process released the Regional Assessment of Iowa’s Creative Corridor today. The data is based on comprehensive qualitative and quantitative information and gathered through focus groups and survey responses from 2,200 local participants earlier this year. The Assessment revealed a region that has performed well against state and national averages for many key economic and demographic indicators. It also assessed that Iowa’s Creative Corridor holds its own against some of the top comparison regions in the Midwest, including Des Moines, Madison, WI, and Fort Collins, CO. The Corridor’s performance during the Great Recession in the late 2000s was among the strongest in the country, buffered by the region’s stable, diverse economy and well-established anchor institutions and companies.
The Regional Assessment also indicated that while there were certain local variations, the Creative Corridor largely demonstrated notably low rates of poverty and competitive, growing levels of individual and household incomes. Wages were competitive and rose faster than the Corridor’s comparison areas, potentially because of what was identified as the region’s principal challenge, a tight labor market with low rates of unemployment and high labor force participation percentages. In fact, the Creative Corridor’s labor force growth has not kept pace with the region’s population and employment increases. Challenges to retain and attract talent, especially young professionals, were cited by respondents to the Regional Assessment’s public input process as key local concerns.
J. Mac Holladay, founder and CEO of Market Street Services, the firm contracted to facilitate the Creative Corridor’s strategic visioning process, commented, “I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the Creative Corridor has performed in recent years, especially during the Great Recession. It’s a testament to your tremendous assets in the region and how you’ve been able to leverage them.”
The full assessment is available here for more information.
The Regional Assessment is Phase Two in the Regional Vision Rising process, a comprehensive, inclusive and forward-seeking effort to create a regional strategy for Iowa’s Creative Corridor. Assessment information will contribute to the vision planning process and assist in prioritizing regional needs. The Regional Vision Rising process began in February 2016 and will take approximately seven months. At the end of the months-long effort, the Creative Corridor will have a consensus-based, achievable roadmap to guide the area’s path to short and long-term economic growth. Market Street Services, Inc., a community and economic development consulting firm, is facilitating the process.
Creative Corridor Regional Vision is supported through resources from the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Corridor Alliance, East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, Iowa City Area Development Group, Kirkwood Community College, Marion Chamber of Commerce, MEDCO, MedQuarter, University of Iowa and United Way of East Central Iowa. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance is providing staff support to the process.