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Planning For Econ. Growth In The Corridor

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KGAN/KFXA) On Friday economic development leaders in Linn and Johnson Counties released the results of a new survey that details workforce needs in the Creative Corridor. They will use the information obtained from the study combined with future focus groups to boost workforce development throughout the Corridor.

Overall, Dennis Jordan, the VP of Economic Development with the Metro Economic Alliance said that things in the Creative Corridor are looking pretty good.

Of the 400 metros in the United States, only a quarter of them, less than one hundred, are at or above the employment levels pre-recession. The Corridor is one of those communities. Jordan explained

Thus, the combined forces of economic development leaders at Kirkwood Community College, Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) and the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance are working to keep it that way. The group put together a regional workforce study to plan for future industrial growth. Jordan said most employers ask three questions

1) What is the availability of your workforce?
2)  What is the affordability of your workforce?
3)  What is the capability of your workforce?

And while we have adequate tools to address availability and affordability, its a little bit more difficult to address capability, Jordan said.

So the new study is helping answer that question as well as identifying key business growth area.

 Growth opportunities really come down to the number of jobs and capital investment in the area of economic development whether thats with existing companies or new companies, Jordan said.

Jordan said the most surprising part of the study was how many areas are emerging and growing in the Corridor. The study identified five key areas of business that are either emerging or growing. That list starts with financial and customer services like those provided at Transamerica. Another growing area is food processing, manufacturing and engineering. That includes places like Quaker Oats. Industrial biotechnology also made the list including businesses like Cargill. Jobs dealing with medical devices and services are growing at small companies and at local hospitals. Lastly, software and IT development, computer modeling and simulation at places like Rockwell or Go Daddy are also increasing.

Certainly, were looking for opportunities to support existing companies  in growing the number of jobs, and increasing the amount of capital investment, but were also looking to draw in outside employers that are looking for a region to locate, Jordan said.

The study also identified the five industries that employ a large percentage of the regions workforce. Those areas are called foundational. They include durable goods, educational testing and support services, electronics engineering and manufacturing, non-durable goods and production advanced manufacturing.

The next step for the group will be to sit down with area employers in focus groups to share findings and talk about ways to support the industry as whole. They will also put together programing that can make that happen. The group will additionally work with educators to determine what skills employees will need to prepare for future success.



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