CBJ Report: Corridor officials, businesses bullish on Coralville arena's future

A rendering of a proposed arena to be built in the Iowa River Landing in Coralville.

Every week, the Corridor Business Journal shares stories it's working on with CBS2/FOX28. Here are some of their top stories that will appear in Monday's edition of the CBJ.

Corridor officials, businesses bullish on arena's future

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth predicts the $46 million Iowa Arena project will be a "game changer" for the region and Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the ability to host large-scale events from hockey to big-name concerts could bring in millions in new tourism revenue annually to area hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

The 6,200-seat arena, set to break ground early next year and open in August 2019, was a main topic of discussion at the Coralville Economic Development Holiday luncheon Dec. 19, generating plenty of enthusiasm from a number of speakers including Coralville City Engineer Dan Holderness, who outlined a $7.8-million roads project to improve access to the arena and the surrounding Iowa River Landing area, and concert manager Dave DeWaard, whose Basis Entertainment coordinates events and concerts like Forest City's annual Tree Town Festival and 2016's Back Porch Revival headlined by Blake Shelton.

"[Concert goers] are going to Omaha, they're going to Des Moines, they're going to Chicago and guess what? They all have to come through here to get there," Mr. DeWaard said, adding that the 55,000 attendees for Back Porch Revival proved there was demand and support for big concerts in the Corridor. "You have everything you need here to make this a permanent stop."

In his remarks, Mr. Schamberger agreed, pointing out that Carver Hawkeve Arena, once a major touring stop, hadn't hosted a large concert event since the early 2000s.

"This community needs and will do very well in the concert market," he said, adding that the venue would also host large sporting events from hockey matches to gymnastics, and youth sports. Negotiations are underway, he added, to make the arena the new home of University of Iowa women's volleyball.

"This stuff is big business," he said, citing the 2016 USA Olympic Wrestling Trials held in Iowa City, which brought in $5.6 million in tourism income as well as projections indicating youth sports tournaments held in the arena complex alone could fill up to 4,300 hotel rooms a day.

Mr. Schamberger said the arena complex, which includes a field house, practice arena and turf area would spur $185 million in additional development, including two new hotels, a large block of retail, residential units and both the Antique Car Museum and the Johnson County Historical Society Museum.

The sports and entertainment complex is being funded by $12 million in state reinvestment funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, a projected $13.5 million in naming rights and sponsorships, $10 million in corporate giving, $5.5 million from property sales to private owners and $5 million in tax credits.

Lura McBride is 2017's Most Influential Person in the Corridor

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the CBJ's annual Most Influential poll, and a continuation of the one constant that has held true over the years: It helps to lead a big organization.

This year's Most Influential Person in the Corridor, Lura McBride, is president and CEO of Van Meter Inc., which ranked as the second-largest privately held company in the Corridor in 2016. The Cedar Rapids-based electrical distributor counts 15 locations and more than 450 employees company-wide, and was this year named one of the Top 25 electrical distributors in a Modern Distribution Management magazine ranking, which was based on revenue.

Ms. McBride has been a visible force in building one of the Corridor's best corporate cultures - a fact exemplified by the company's four appearances on the CBJ's Coolest Places to Work list - and in pushing forward educational and women's development initiatives with organizations like Iowa BIG and Iowa Women Lead Change.

"My leadership style is very much about empowering and motivating and lifting others up, versus maybe the old carrot-and-stick model of leadership," she told the CBJ. "I build my influence through deep relationships and shared understandings with others. "

Ms. McBride follows in the footsteps of other leaders of major Corridor organizations in taking the Most Influential title, including last year's winner, Nancy Kasparek, division president of U.S. Bank in Cedar Rapids; former University of Iowa Presidents David Skorton and Sally Mason; retired Rockwell Collins Chairman and CEO Clay Jones; and outgoing Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who topped the list twice in 2010 and 2013, and appears at No. 5 this year.

Iowa is best state for middle class, new study finds

A new study from financial website GOBankingRates says Iowa is the best state in the nation for the middle class.

The study's authors analyzed income, higher education and housing trends in the state, including changes in median household incomes over 15 years, five-year changes in tuition and the median home list price.

Iowa ranked high on almost all the metrics analyzed, according to the website, including a median household income of $75,953.

"Iowa has a high median household income of middle-class families, and a relatively low drop in median household income change between 1999 and 2014," the report's authors wrote. "On the higher education front, Iowa has a high college graduation rate and low in-state tuition and fees. It also has one of the lowest percentage increases in college tuition cost over the last five years."

It also cited the state's relative housing affordability, with a median home listing price of only $169,900, and its high ownership rate.

Four of the top five states in the study were located in the Midwest. South Dakota ranked No. 2, Nebraska ranked No. 4 and North Dakota was No. 5. See the full results here.

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