Focus Groups

Following the Think-Tank, a series of industry and county Focus Groups were held across the region.

The purpose of the Focus Groups was to validate the preferred future, and to gather strategic ideas on how to implement the vision. Below is a synopsis of the key themes and strategic ideas that emerged from the Focus Groups. The 4 common themes that emerged repeatedly were the need for better regional storytelling, workforce/workplace transformation, regionalism, and the region’s significant educational assets.

County Focus Groups

Tell our story better to the outside world; for workforce development and businesses.

Workforce (shortage):
Address the shortage by building affordable housing; become more welcoming; create a systems-wide onboarding procedure to incorporate diverse populations and new residents into the region; attract and retain employees.

Workplace / Business attraction:
Market existing spaces to employers; emphasize location; promote opportunities to repurpose existing spaces.

This is one of the best assets of the region – incorporate innovation into education and provide a broader set of educational options.

The importance of creating a more cohesive region.

Recreational opportunities:
Emphasize the opportunities here; recognize high level priorities to attract and build quality of life in the region.

Infrastructure development/Built environment:
Build connectivity, walkability, broadband to support/attract new growth and changing demographic.

Industry Focus Groups

We need to market as a region and advertise ECI assets more, especially quality of life. Develop the storyline that attracts youth.

Workforce / Workplace:
Develop the infrastructure to support workforce including new populations – housing, amenities, work options (remote work). Work to attract people and businesses.

Develop K-12 programs with career development/options. Leverage University’s spin-out capacity, venture capital, geographical connections.

The importance of creating a more cohesive region.

Research and development:
Bring in mid-size companies to test theories/R&D in food. Build on Cedar Rapids food production capacity. Tie Universities to the R & D programs. Become a test bed for tech companies.

Land stewardship – move to regenerative economy/not extractive.

Schedule of Focus Groups

October 20, 2021
Jones County, Monticello City Council Chambers, 9:00am-11:00am

October 21, 2021
Washington County, Washington Public Library, 9:30am-11:30am
Benton & Iowa Counties, Fireside Winery, 2:00pm-4:00pm

October 22, 2022
Food & Bio-Processing, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 8:00am-9:30am
Insurance & Finance, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 10:30am-12:00pm
Engineering & Automation, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 1:30pm-3:00pm

October 25
Main Street & Small Business, Location TBD, 9:00am-10:30am
Education Technology & Services, MERGE Iowa City, 12:00pm-1:30pm
Bio-Technology & Medical Technology, BioVentures Center, 2:30pm-4:00pm

October 26
Jones County, Lawrence Community Center, 9:00am-11:00am

November 15
Linn County, Location TBD, 8:00am-10:00am
Linn County, Virtual Session, 1:00pm-3:00pm


For more information about ECICOG’s CEDS Project, visit or contact:

Karen M. Kurt, Executive Director ECICOG
East Central Iowa Council of Governments
Phone: (319) 365-9941 Ext. 122