A Love Letter to Iowa’s Large Technology Community of the Year
As I write this ode to my hometown, it has been just over two weeks since Cedar Rapids, Iowa was named Large Technology Community of the Year by the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) at its 2018 Prometheus Awards ceremony.
The press release from TAI states,
“Cedar Rapids is a leader in technology industries ranging from telecommunications to manufacturing to alternative energy. The community boasts Iowa’s first tech accelerator, the Iowa Startup Accelerator. Cedar Rapids is home to Iowa’s largest tech employer, Rockwell Collins, seven Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing companies and many recognizable brands including Fortune 500 companies across aerospace, defense, food and beverage, packaging, recycling, biosciences, logistics, equipment design, information technology, and renewable energy industries. Cedar Rapids also hosts Iowa’s first girls-only code camp, led by female developers and engineers and Iowa’s premier adult code school, DeltaV Code School. Cedar Rapids brings a strong density of high-quality tech and advanced manufacturing employers and talent leading to several spinoffs and startup companies. Collaboration is possible in Cedar Rapids as leaders are willing to mentor and cultivate the next tech leaders. Kirkwood Community College partnerships abound with tech leaders to develop curriculum for workforce-ready students.”
Iowa as a whole has been getting a lot of really good press in recent years (1, 2, 3), but it’s good to see Cedar Rapids making strides in this key area of growth. CR has always possessed a subtle air of progressiveness, but it’s nice to be officially recognized for embracing the future and nurturing technological advancements across so many industries.
It’s cool that the rest of the state – and hopefully even the country – can see that there’s more to this manufacturing town than some questionable smells. This is a community that celebrates innovation, the entrepreneurial spirit, and determination; and we deserve to be acknowledged for our scrappiness.
So, let’s talk about a few of the really cool tech things going on in the CR area right now:
Arguably one of the coolest organizations around, the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative is a nonprofit with the mission to accelerate world-changing ideas. The organization launched the Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2014 and has helped hundreds of new startups since its inception.
NewBoCo also offers educational opportunities for everyone from K-12 students to those looking for professional development in areas of engineering or entrepreneurship. May we suggest looking into their new innovation series, the Intrapreneur Academy?
Iowa’s 2-day entrepreneur conference/festival for business owners, startup founders, corporate innovators, and community champions is moving up I-380 from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids. The event is put on by those same hard-working folks at NewBoCo in conjunction with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.
While this event is not targeted specifically to the tech industry, it is safe to assume that a large piece of the proverbial attendance pie will be comprised of innovators in the tech space.
Crystal Group is a manufacturer of rugged computer hardware for defense and industry markets. Their newest product line, however, is specifically designed for the Autonomous Vehicle industry, putting Cedar Rapids at the forefront of the push toward self-driving vehicles.
The Crystal Group RACE0161 high-performance, rugged computer is specifically designed to help engineers shorten development time, bringing autonomous vehicle innovations to market ahead of their competitors.
We can’t forget the company that put Cedar Rapids on the technology map. As a leader in the field of aviation technology, Collins Aerospace (formerly Rockwell-Collins) got its start in Cedar Rapids as Collins Radio Company before being acquired by Rockwell International (and then later UTC).
Today, they remain on the cutting edge of avionics and are one of the largest employers in the Cedar Rapids area.
And of course, a little shameless self-promotion of CCR after our win of this year’s IT Service Provider of the Year Prometheus Award.
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