CBJ Report: ICR Iowa unveiled as new regional brand

ICR Iowa unveiled as new regional brand

ICR Iowa unveiled as new regional brand

The Cedar Rapids Iowa City Corridor Development Corporation, the regional joint venture formed to work on workforce and business attraction initiatives, has unveiled ICR IOWA as the new brand for both the organization and the seven-county region previously known as Iowa's Creative Corridor.

ICR IOWA will serve not only as the name of the economic development organization, but also as a brand used to promote the region. A new website and marketing campaign focused on business and talent attraction will be launched this summer.

"We are excited to share ICR IOWA, a new brand imagined by a team of 17 creatives who live and work in our region," Jennifer Daly, president and CEO for ICR IOWA, said in a press release. “The ICR stands for Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, shortened to share that central 'C.' The team believes this brand will resonate both within and outside our region, allowing us to develop a stronger presence nationally and internationally for business and talent attraction.”

Ms. Daly added that her organization will be encouraging businesses, organizations and governmental bodies to use the brand in their own marketing, and that a toolkit with graphics and guidance on the usage will be made available soon. The organization is also working with Iowa-based retailer Raygun to develop new merchandise bearing the logo.

ICR IOWA marks the latest attempt at creating a regional brand that would be recognizable and attractive to those outside the Midwest. The Creative Corridor brand was launched in February of 2012, following a multi-year effort by community leaders, including then-Gazette CEO and President Chuck Peters, CBJ Publisher John Lohman and then-Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance CEO and President Dee Baird. Before that, the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids region had previously been known informally as Iowa's Technology Corridor.

In a recent Q&A with the Corridor Business Journal, Ms. Daly alluded to ongoing "hesitancy around the [Iowa's Creative Corridor" brand among local economic development professionals when she arrived to lead the joint venture last summer. In the release announcing the new name, she expressed hope that the simpler ICR brand will gain more traction outside Iowa.

"We know a simple idea can really take off and we have seen that happen in other regions including MSP, NYC, KC, DFW, DSM and others," Ms. Daly said of the new iteration.

Work begins on $35M Augusta Place project

Construction began yesterday on Augusta Place, a seven-story, $35 million mixed-use project that will bring townhomes, apartments and a new parking ramp to downtown Iowa City.

After nearly two months of installing utilities, work began Tuesday on footings for the project. Construction began on the west side of the project site just south of the former Unitarian Universalist Church building at 10 S. Gilbert St. Work will gradually move east toward Van Buren Street, according to John Yapp, a project manager for Allen Homes, and should be more noticeable in mid-April as it begins to go vertical.

The project represents the culmination of years of discussion with the city over redevelopment of a former municipal parking lot and dealings to acquire the historic church, which will be repurposed in the project. City leaders approved a development agreement for the parking lot north of City Hall and the site associated with the church in May of last year.

The project will include 26 two-story townhomes and nearly 100 apartments. The latter will be above a portion of the parking ramp on the south side of the development between Gilbert and Van Buren streets.

A building permit for the project pulled two weeks ago by developer Jesse Allen's Aspen Ventures estimates the cost of the construction covered at $25.7 million. Construction will take about 18 months and will be closely coordinated with the city. To see the full phasing plans on the project, click here.

Kaplan University to become Purdue Global

Kaplan University will officially become Purdue University Global after receiving final approval from the Higher Learning Commission, Purdue officials announced yesterday.

Purdue University, a Big 10 institution located in West Lafayette, Indiana, last April announced its decision to acquire Kaplan University from Kaplan Inc., and on Jan. 11 unveiled the institution's new name. The acquisition was approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Education, and only needed approval from the HLC, one of six regional accreditors in the country, to close.

"We are grateful for the Higher Learning Commission's decision to approve Purdue University's conversion of Kaplan University to Indiana's newest public institution of higher education, Purdue Global," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in a press release. "It opens a new era for our institution, with the opportunity to expand our land-grant mission to millions of adult students around the country. That opportunity brings with it the responsibility to provide the highest quality online education, not only to our new adult learners, but to all residential and online Boilermaker students."

Purdue Global will have its main campus in Indianapolis and is expected to launch officially in April. Betty Vandenbosch, currently president of Kaplan University (KU), will be the Purdue Global chancellor and will report to Mr. Daniels and the new institution's six-member board of trustees, composed of five Purdue University trustees and one external trustee.

The roughly 30,000 students enrolled at Kaplan University, including those at campuses in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Cedar Falls, will be "seamlessly" transitioned to Purdue Global, officials said in a statement. Those students will be able to complete their programs of study with their current instructors without interruption, but will earn a degree bearing the new institution's name. Over time, additional programs are expected to be added to the curriculum.

With the launch of the new institution, Purdue, which previously did not have a significant online undergraduate degree offering, will become one of the largest online degree-granting systems in higher education.

Kaplan traces its roots to the American Institute of Commerce (AIC), which opened its doors in 1937 in Davenport, Iowa, to provide training for underserved job seekers. It was acquired by Kaplan Inc., in 2001 and renamed Kaplan University in 2004.

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