• Stable and diverse economy
• Proximity to Des Moines and Iowa City
• Opportunity to practice smart growth
• Recovery from the 2008 floods
• Largely vacant downtown
• Slow residential recovery
“Cedar Rapids is still rebuilding from the 2008 floods, which damaged 10 square miles of our city—displacing thousands of residents, destroying more than 4,000 homes,” notes Kari Stillman, vice president of marketing and communications for the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Cedar Rapids is the seat of Linn County, which, flood notwithstanding, produced 24.9 million bushels of corn in 2010.
POPULATION & JOB GROWTH
Current population: 126,326. Total employment: 6.2%. Jobs have grown steadily since 2006, an average of 2% growth each year.
“Cedar Rapids’ economy is expected to grow by 30% over the next three years,” Stillman says. The metro area is expected to see employment expand 14.2% over the same period according to research firm Moody’s Analytics at economy.com. The impact of corn and ethanol production on the region’s growth can’t be overstated. “We’re the largest processor of corn in the world,” says Dee Baird, president of development for the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
”The residential market is slowly recovering, but the sale of large single-family homes is soft,” says James Novak, AIA, principal and architect for local firm Novak Design Group. “We currently have an interesting affordable housing project under construction … adjacent to the New Bohemia arts district.”
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE MARKET
Office space goes for under $6 (Class C) to over $14/s.f. in the central business district, with overall vacancy around 12% downtown. Industrial space moves at an average of $3.50/s.f., with an approximately 10% vacancy rate.
“We still have flood-damaged buildings that aren’t occupied,” says Scott E. Olson, AIA, a registered architect and commercial real estate broker for Skogman Commercial Real Estate at the Penthouse. “Rockwell Collins will occupy 82,000 s.f. when they relocate downtown this spring. That will bring the vacancy rate down by 2%.”
“It will be some of the most incredible years in our city’s history,” declares Daniel Thies, AIA, president of local firm OPN Architects. “With the reinvention of our city there is time for the economy to perhaps get righted in many ways.”