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Why Do Cedar Rapids Businesses Thrive?

Unmatched affordability, close proximity to major markets and excellent quality of life are just a few of the reasons companies choose to call Cedar Rapids home.

By Joe Morris on January 23, 2023

The Cedar Rapids economy is bustling, thanks to industries such as agribusiness, financial services and manufacturing.
Cedar Ridge

Businesses want a location where they can start strong, put down roots and grow over time. Cedar Rapids provides just that environment, thanks to a thriving business community, unmatched affordability, proximity to major markets and a standout quality of life.

Major companies in Cedar Rapids include General Mills, Pepsi Beverages Co., Eco Lips, Raining Rose and Quaker Oats Co., and with plenty of available sites for expansion and development, the region continues to greet new arrivals on a regular basis.

And on the engineering side, Select Structural Engineering LLC, JET Engineering Inc., Skyworks Solutions Inc. and West Plains Engineering Inc. are busy with highly visible, major projects involving transportation, infrastructure and electrical power.

Cedar Rapids businesses are within a one-day truck trip of 72 million North American consumers – a benefit of being close to interstate highways and an extensive network of short line, regional and Class I rail service. River and deep-water shipping options also are readily available, and air transportation is no problem either, with Eastern Iowa Airport nearby.

For article about Cedar Rapids businesses.
Nathan Lambrecht

History of Success in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids is also a longtime home to financial service providers such as GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp.

“We have a rich recruitment base of colleges and universities, housing availability and affordability, a growing airport and low crime,” says Matthew Doty, vice president of corporate communications for GreatAmerica, which has been in the city for 30 years.

“Cedar Rapids is a great place to raise a family. We have both regional and national museums, strong support of cultural, social and environmental nonprofits, and a downtown that’s connected to growing restaurant and shopping areas.”

Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery near Cedar Rapids, IA
Cedar Ridge

A Growing Industry

Legacy companies are joined by plenty of newcomers, including Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, which opened its doors in 2005 as the first distillery in Iowa since Prohibition. Since then, the enterprise, which was founded by Jeff and Laurie Quint, has been racking up awards and growing its offerings as a winery and distillery, says Jamie Siefken, executive vice president and general manager.

“We are producing award-winning wine and spirits, and are known for our whiskey,” Siefken says. “We are focused on laying down as many whiskey barrels a month as we can and building our distribution and partner networks across the Upper Midwest.”

Cedar Ridge uses Iowa corn for its whiskey – good news for local growers – and also has a rising profile as a tourism and venue destination, integrating it even further into the local economy.

“Our visitor center sees about 100,000 people a year, partly because people like to see the vineyard and the barrel sheds and grain bins,” Siefken says. “We’re also hosting around 50 weddings a year, as well as corporate events. We are really pleased with how everyone has embraced our products and the experience we provide at Cedar Ridge. We believe in creating jobs and expanding our economy, and are confident that we can continue to grow and help to continue the growth of our industry, in Iowa.”

Airport a Major Player in Region

Need to get people or products up and out? Look no further than Eastern Iowa Airport (CID), which is responsible for handling and shipping nearly 50% of Iowa’s cargo.

This fact is due to assets like superior geographic location, an increase in shipping demand and the fact that the airport has available land for current and future cargo expansion, says Marty Lenss, airport director.

While CID has seen record-breaking passenger numbers in the past, cargo growth has also seen a major increase in the last several years, in large part from the increased demand of e-commerce. UPS, FedEx and DHL all have a major presence at the facility, which has been working to meet demand by providing expansion opportunities for both people and cargo carriers.

In September 2018, CID received an $8.8 million Federal Aviation Administration discretionary grant to relocate and expand its cargo operation.

“Cargo has become a large part of CID’s overall operation,” Lenss says. “We relocated UPS and created an air cargo complex, including roadway and parking lot development to ensure easier accessibility. Currently UPS’ building is eight times larger than what they previously leased.”

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