Creating a Regional Plan

“In this new age, we need to think together, to cooperate across city lines and county lines and state lines, looking beyond old rivalries to find common cause in a regional answer to the challenge of globalization.” ~Richard Longworth, Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Iowa City Area Development Group, September 2010.

“You got chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Or
How to create a comprehensive regional development strategy

If you believe the old candy bar commercial (and why shouldn’t you?), you can appreciate that, sometimes, the best product might just be the result of the ingredients bumping into each other in the hallway.

The East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) is a public, regional planning agency serving Benton, Iowa Johnson, Jones, Linn, and Washington Counties. ECICOG is also designated by the federal Department of Commerce – Economic Development Administration as the Economic Development District for the six-county region. As such, ECICOG is required to prepare and update a regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy every five years. Think of them as the peanut butter.

The Corridor Business Alliance (CBA) was formed by local and regional organizations in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area that were interested in discussing a regional approach to economic development. The vision of the CBA is “to create a vital regional economy through the creation and growth of business.” One of the group’s objectives toward achieving that vision is the creation of a regional economic development plan. Think of them as the chocolate.

Recently, ECICOG and the CBA agreed to combine their efforts to implement a coordinated, public planning process in order to create a comprehensive regional development strategy. While this didn’t literally occur through some random collision, each organization had embarked on their own process before recognizing the similarities in desired outcomes and the benefits of combining forces—the candy bar.

The centerpiece of the process is a regional economic development summit, sponsored by and to be held at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, on April 7, 2011. Prior to the summit, ECICOG will hold county meetings to provide information on the planning process and to seek preliminary input on the planning document (see schedule below).

As the Region 10 Regional Planning Affiliation, ECICOG is also responsible for the region’s long-range transportation plan for a seven-county region including Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington Counties (excluding the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids metropolitan areas). As part of the coordinated planning process, ECICOG will integrate the elements of the long-range transportation plan into the comprehensive regional development strategy to create a unified planning document. The plan will be completed by June 30, 2011.

For additional information, contact Doug Elliott (ext. 122) or doug.elliott@ecicog.org.

Save the dates!
In cooperation with the Corridor Business Alliance, ECICOG is conducting a public planning process to create a comprehensive regional development strategy. Public officials, business and nonprofit representatives, and interested members of the public are encouraged to attend one or more of the meetings/events below in order to participate in this exciting planning process.

Informational Planning Meetings:

February 8
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Monticello Renaissance Center
220 East First Street
Monticello
Presented in cooperation with the Jones County Economic Development Commission

February 16
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Kirkwood Community College
200 West Street
Williamsburg
Presented in cooperation with the Iowa County Economic Development Commission

February 22
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Washington Public Library
115 W Washington St.
Washington
Presented in cooperation with the Washington Economic Development Group

February 23
6:00 – 7:00 pm
Blairstown Community Center
305 Locust St NW
Blairstown
Presented in cooperation with the Benton Economic Development Group

Regional Economic Development Summit
(Watch for registration and agenda details!)

April 7
8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Hotel at Kirkwood Center
7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW
Cedar Rapids
Sponsored by Kirkwood Community College