The City of Cedar Rapids recently hired their first city staff member dedicated to economic development. The new Economic Development Liaison position provides the City with the opportunity to evaluate the current economic development climate and target key areas of improvement for the community. One significant concern facing Cedar Rapids employers and community leaders is the struggle to both attract and retain a quality workforce. Anecdotally, leaders believe this is because of a lack of quality housing, minimal nightlife, and a lack of shopping and other amenities.
This project evaluated the current workforce of Cedar Rapids and determined the gap between supply and demand for quality workers. Students sought to understand the reasons for both attracting and retaining new workers by holding focus groups and collecting data. A particular focus of the project was attracting and retaining young professionals (workers under 40). Students surveyed other cities with strong young professional workforce to propose steps that Cedar Rapids can take to become a more attractive place for young professionals to live.