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Welcome to Iowa's Creative Corridor

The University of Iowa has joined dozens of area organizations in a new initiative that looks to build a national and global profile for a seven-county stretch of Iowa by highlighting the region's innovation and creativity, past and present.

In early 2012, project partners announced a name for the region surrounding Cedar Rapids and Iowa City: Iowa’s Creative Corridor. This spring, they unveiled a campaign designed to build connections and community.

“Working collaboratively, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and surrounding communities have the potential to significantly enhance economic development throughout the region,” says David Hensley, UI interim associate vice president for economic development. “Leveraging the outstanding assets and talent located throughout the corridor is very important for long-term economic success.”

The Corridor Business Alliance launched the project in 2010, establishing a Regional Branding Task Force today chaired by Chuck Peters, president and CEO of the Gazette Company; John Lohman, publisher of the Corridor Business Journal; and Hensley.

The UI has been a partner from the start, contributing both leadership and funding.

“It’s an exciting collaboration,” Hensley says. “Innovation and creativity are what universities are all about, and a growing region will help us keep attracting talented students and faculty, and foster an ecosystem that will accelerate entrepreneurship and economic development throughout the corridor and the state of Iowa.”

North Star Destination Strategies assessed the region and proposed the name Iowa’s Creative Corridor to recognize the area’s traditional strengths in the arts, sciences, and technology. The branding task force subsequently brought on Seed Here Studio to develop an implementation plan.

The plan includes four initial programs, all showcased on the project’s website,

  • Creative Corridor Stories, weekly profiles of corridor residents who are developing ideas, building businesses, and inspiring others
  • Creative Corridor Digest, a weekly email presenting innovation events and news from the region
  • Creative Week, an Oct. 19-26 celebration of innovation, creativity, and people who create in the region
  • The We Create Here Campaign, an awareness-building campaign stickers, window clings, web buttons, T-shirts, and other materials

Initially, the project aims to build sense of place, access, opportunity, and belonging among people who live in the corridor region. Ultimately, organizers want to see these connections grow into ideas, inventions, and innovators that put eastern Iowa on the national stage.

“This isn’t an advertising campaign or a marketing campaign,” says Chuck Peters. “It’s a community-development, living-the-brand campaign.”

The project has enlisted more than 50 organizations and 1,500 individuals, including UI alumni like John Lohman, Seed Here Studio founders Andy Stoll and Amanda Styron, and Nick Westergaard of Brand Driven Digital.

“It’s exciting to see so many young alumni invest in the region and set out to make a difference,” Hensley says.

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