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Welcome to Corridor2020, our entry point for those interested in the development of the area in Eastern Iowa surrounding Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.   If you are interesting in expanded networking with those interested in this topic, click on this NETWORKING LINK, and scroll down to the lower left of that homepage to sign up.

The concepts of regional development are well known, and we have been sporadically pursuing them for the last 25 years.  After the floods last year, our local municipalities and counties and economic development organizations turned inward, and understandably so.  The Corridor Business Alliance, comprised of the economic development organizations listed to the right, decided that more coordination was necessary. Gazette Communications and The Corridor Business Journal decided that a spotlight needed to shine on the regional development issues, and worked with the Corridor Business Alliance to create a Path to Regional Excellence event on November 3rd.  You can see the slides and the video from that event by clicking on the appropriate link.  Both The Gazette and the Corridor Business Journal commented on the event, and the need to get started on a more focused effort of regional development.

The concepts of regional development are very simple, but will take an agreed upon common purpose and significant work to implement:

1.  We are competing in a global economy.

2. The actors on this global stage  (individuals, companies, non-profits, etc.) do not really care about parochial political interests.  They care about easy access to talent, materials, transportation, culture, recreational opportunities, etc.

3. To stand out on this global stage, we need to have a critical mass of people and economic activity.  The natural boundaries of that critical mass in our area roughly align with the Kirkwood Community College service area and the Grant Wood AEA service area, as those areas, which are almost identical, define the labor shed and shopping patterns in our area.

For that critical mass of social and economic activity to stand out on that global stage, we need to have:

1.  An identity and brand that can easily differentiate us in the world, that is substantive and authentic, and that is internalized and articulated by those in the region.

2.  An infrastructure of information flow and decision making that reduces, if not eliminates, the friction of parochial interests.

3.  Powerful workforce development and education.

4.  An open and constructive entrepreneurial culture and support for innovative activities.

5. Diversity and inclusiveness.

Pat Baird, CEO of AEGON USA, outlined the necessity of this effort before the November 3rd event.  The Corridor Business Alliance continues to work to create the common purpose and action plan for the economic development aspects of regional development.  We need similar alliances of governmental leaders to work with the CBA on developing the infrastructure aspects of regional development, educators  and business leaders to develop the workforce aspects, and many of us to work on the culture, diversity and inclusiveness action plans.  The time to start is now.

What do you think?

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    1. Celebrate collectively. Use regional terms and
    invite your partners to share credit for good work and
    good outcomes.
    2. Publish jointly. Work cooperatively to produce
    full-region research data.
    3. Give a voice, not a vote. Bring representatives of
    separate government jurisdictions together for
    discussions of a specific issue, in settings that
    provide the opportunity for everyone to explore the issue.
    4. Keep saying it. Document and publicize those issues on which you have
    consensus within the region.
    5. Host a party. Invite staffs of elected and appointed officials of multiple levels of
    government, jurisdictions and departments. No agenda – no lavish dinner.
    Check lobbying rules in your state to be sure such a meeting is allowed.
    6. Show a positive public face. If someone in a regional coalition breaks the
    “compact,” deal with the disappointment, rejection, and betrayal privately while
    remaining positive in public.
    7. Practice regional cooperation. Find a big, long-term issue that can ONLY be
    handled on a regional basis (like watershed or attracting a future military
    establishment). Help people throughout the region work together on this non-
    threatening issue.
    8. Lead by example. Chambers in a region should be meeting together, plotting
    together, lobbying together, and establishing “early warning systems” to keep
    each other aware. Try intermingling boards in productive networks, and possibly
    even sharing back-office operations.
    9. Emphasize the incremental. If representatives of two entities within a region
    can talk and work together, support it. Don’t wait for some grand union of
    everybody under a single banner before you start to initiate regional strategies.
    10. Remain united. Resist efforts by state or federal agencies and legislators to
    separate and segregate the people of a region.

    Source: American Chamber of Commerce Executives

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