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Meet MedQ: 10 Things to Know About This Unique Medical District

Here, you can go to the dentist, see a specialist, get adjusted by a chiropractor – the list goes on and on for this downtown district of health care providers in Cedar Rapids, IA

By Val Hunt Beerbower on December 6, 2021

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, IA
Mercy Medical Center

While Cedar Rapids has many unique qualities – it’s home to the largest cereal mill in the world – one area of the region houses something that might just tip the “distinct scale.”

Say hello to The MedQuarter Regional Medical District, a self-supporting area of downtown that offers quick, convenient access to a myriad of health care and medical programs, plus a few extra surprises.

To give you a better idea of all this area provides, we have the top 10 things you need to know. Let’s dive in!

1. The Nickname

The first thing to get straight is The MedQuarter Regional Medical District is known as “The MedQ.” It’s a collection of health care organizations and companies concentrated within a 55-block medical district in the city’s core.

2. The Premise

The MedQ is a community revitalization partnership that promotes a dynamic urban medical community to improve quality of life and advocate for new businesses and jobs. Funded by a Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, The MedQ can enhance and supplement city services.

3. The Big Cheese

Iowa native Phil Wasta has been The MedQ executive director for over six years. Before becoming its first executive director, this University of Iowa graduate was vice president of Tallgrass Business Resources.

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, IA
St. Luke’s Hospital

4. The One-Stop Shop

The MedQ is home to Mercy Medical Center, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa and more than 100 other health care providers. “I’m impressed by this competitive health care environment we have within Cedar Rapids,” Wasta says. “That competition raises the bar constantly because they each challenge one another to perform better, which is a win for the community and the region.”

5. The Supporting Cast

Not only is The MedQ home to hundreds of options for treating one’s health, but other businesses have a presence here, too. “We have cultural attractions, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, retailers, restaurants – there are many other types of businesses within the district, making The MedQ an extremely convenient location for visitors and employees alike,” Wasta says.

6. The Accelerator

Not only is The MedQ a successful site for existing businesses in the health care industry, but it’s also working on spinning out new ones. The MedQ is collaborating with NewBoCo/Iowa Startup Accelerator to design, implement and execute a qualified mentor network that has the expertise required to attract, retain and grow early-stage companies in health-related fields in Iowa. “NewBoCo’s focus is on creating an ecosystem dedicated to supporting startup businesses,” Wasta says. “Some startups that are health care-related have already come to the table.”

7. The Infrastructure

More than $2 million has been invested in upgrades to The MedQ’s infrastructure. The Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District partners with the City of Cedar Rapids to make improvements, from subgrade to streetscape.

8. The Incentives

The MedQ is all about improvement, right down to the buildings themselves. The Facade Improvement Grant Program is intended to encourage property and business owners within The MedQ to renovate their building fronts and other exteriors plainly visible to the public. Since the launch of the program in 2016, over $70,000 has been awarded. There’s also a revolving loan fund administered by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments to provide business creation and expansion assistance for small businesses located within The MedQ.

Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, IA
John Beyer

9. The People

Today, the district sees roughly 6,000 employees coming and going to their places of employment as well as the guests of the health care organizations and surrounding small businesses.

10. The Future

The MedQ continues to grow. Newer additions to this area include Artisan’s Sanctuary, a performance studio, gallery and workspace for artists, along with new retailers, a law firm and a new restaurant. Of course, medical providers are also on the move, including Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa’s new 100,000-square-foot Medical Pavilion II expansion project, which opened in February 2020, as well as a new medical device business that supports other health care businesses. “The pandemic was hurtful, but we’re seeing a resurgence in our downtown,” Wasta says.

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