A good vibe, opportunity and friendly culture attract key industries.
Like a good monetary fund, the insurance and finance industry keeps growing strong in Cedar Rapids.
Some of the top employers in the sector are Transamerica, GreatAmerica Financial Services and Toyota Financial Services, and these companies alone employ nearly 5,000 people combined. City officials point out that Cedar Rapids has an insurance-friendly tax environment, and thousands of professionals – many of whom graduated from local colleges – have grown the industry into the success it is today.
Ron Corbett is a former mayor of Cedar Rapids who served from 2009 through 2017, during which time he pushed for the city to get more involved in economic development. Today, he works for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance as its business retention and expansion strategist.
“Over the years, Cedar Rapids has done a tremendous job in diversifying its economy, and a lot stems from the mid-1980s when Iowa had a farm crisis and lost a lot of its population,â€ Corbett says. “It took several decades to recover, but Cedar Rapids put together a plan to diversify, and we’re seeing the fruits of that effort right now. One area that is certainly growing here is the financial services industry.”
Corbett says it is prestigious for Cedar Rapids to house big-name companies like Transamerica, GreatAmerica Financial Services and Toyota Financial Services as well as GEICO and UFG Insurance (formerly United Fire Group).
“Those kinds of companies anchoring that sector of our local economy is nice to see, and it’s also good news that many college students are staying in Cedar Rapids after graduation and getting into the insurance and financial sector,â€ he says. “This city has a good vibe and a reputation as a place with opportunities for all age groups, and many millennials are looking at Cedar Rapids as home after graduation, instead of moving to bigger cities and experiencing all their high costs of living.”
Every Reason to Stay
One young professional who enjoys working in the financial sector in Cedar Rapids is Maddie Stastny, a human resources specialist with Toyota Financial Services. Stastny is a Cedar Rapids native who graduated from Mount Mercy University in 2015 with a business administration degree in human resources with a minor in psychology.
“I’m kind of a unique story because a lot of kids in high school don’t really know what they want to do with their lives, but I knew what I wanted by my junior year of high school,â€ she says. “I realized I wanted to be in human resources. For what reason? Mainly, because I once heard someone talk about their job in human resources and thought it was the best field to enter.”
Stastny first worked with Premier Escrow and then Mercy Medical Center before a former college classmate who was employed at Toyota Financial Services told her great things about the company.
“Toyota is a big name, but even though I lived in Cedar Rapids my whole life, I had no idea that it was even here,â€ Stastny says. “So I did research on the company and saw that they have a good working environment as well as a diversity/volunteering culture, which I value. I was eventually hired in 2017 and celebrated my two-year anniversary in September 2019. I still, honestly, look forward to going to the office every single day. It’s primarily because I work with such an excellent group of people.”
Away from the office, Stastny enjoys recreational league slow-pitch softball and Uptown Friday Nights events presented by the Cedar Rapids Jaycees.
“I can see myself being at Toyota Financial Services for a very long time, which a lot of people can’t say about their jobs,â€ she says.
“And let me also say something complimentary about where I live, which is the city of Marion, about five miles from Cedar Rapids. Marion also is a beautiful community with a lot to do and like.”
Well Educated, Hardworking People
On the executive side of the industry, Tony Golobic is chairman/ CEO at GreatAmerica Financial Services that today is a $2.3 billion company with 600 employees – 550 of whom are located in its Cedar Rapids headquarters.
“Cedar Rapids’ size has a number of advantages; it is big enough to offer a lively cultural life and other amenities and yet small enough to be friendly,â€ Golobic says. “But its greatest advantage is very well educated, hardworking people with strong values who have become our greatest competitive advantage.”
Golobic says more than 50% of GreatAmerica employees are college graduates, with many from the Cedar Rapids region.
“Our employees look forward to coming to work because they can make a difference for themselves, their careers, their co-workers, their customers and their community,â€ he says. “We are a caring company that has one rule: Do the right thing, the right thing for everyone involved.”