New to the Creative Corridor entrepreneurial community? Start here.


We even have a local site dedicated to photographing startup life - startupstockphotos.com.

We even have a local site dedicated to photographing startup life – startupstockphotos.com.

About the Corridor:

Iowa City and Cedar Rapids are known for the Iowa Hawkeyes, massive flooding, Czech and Slovak history and international literary acclaim. (You might also know us for the world’s largest cereal mill, if that’s your thing).

These two cities, and the seven counties that surround them – known as Iowa’s Creative Corridor – also have plenty of innovation clout. It’s rumored that Cedar Rapids has the highest concentration of engineers per capita, thanks to big companies like Rockwell Collins and the smaller spinouts they produce. The University of Iowa is known as a top-tier research university, especially in health and medicine, and its undergraduate entrepreneurship program is ranked among the nation’s best. Cedar Rapids is home to the Iowa Startup Accelerator, the first such program in the state, and vibrant coworking spaces are across the region are welcoming new startups all the time.

Overall, the startup community mirrors the bigger trend of “Iowa nice,” as people make an effort to be welcoming, encouraging and helpful. Looking to get more involved in the startup and entrepreneur scene? Start here.

Easy ways to get involved:

  • Attend 1 Million Cups Iowa City/Cedar Rapids. You’ll be introduced to a new startup each week and meet tons of people, with just a 1-hour time commitment. If you have an idea for a new business, this is a great audience to pitch to, too.
  • Check out open coffee. These unstructured meetups happen throughout the Corridor (bi-weekly in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, semi-regularly in other counties). You never know if you’ll end up talking about avionics, education, or organic food, but you’ll probably meet someone new and interesting.
  • Find like-minded folks at a meetup. Whether you’re a tech chick, a vegan, a social adventurer or all of the above, you  can find a topic-based group to spark your interest by searching meetup.com. Our region has dozens of active groups.
  • Spend a day coworking. Choose a place from the list below (most offer a free trial day for newcomers) to rub elbows with active entrepreneurs, freelancers and creative types.
  • Dive in with Startup Weekend. The three-day commitment might seem intense, but Startup Weekend will give you a totally new appreciation for the power of startup communities. Watch the websites for Cedar Rapids and Iowa City for the next big event.
  • Mark your calendar for EntreFEST. The statewide conference brings together high-growth startups, small businesses and corporate innovators. It travels around Iowa, but has landed in the Corridor for 2013, 2014 and 2015. Watch entrefest.com for details.

Places and spaces:

Coworking:

Startup Stock Photos - by Sculpt, of course.

Startup Stock Photos – by Sculpt, of course.

Coffee shops and bars entrepreneurs frequent:

Creative and inspiring spaces:

  • Cherry Building (Cedar Rapids) – historic building that houses small businesses and artists’ studios
  • NewBo City Market (Cedar Rapids) – home to new food and restaurant upstarts
  • CSPS (Cedar Rapids) – arts and music venue
  • Public Space One (Iowa City) – supporter of grassroots art and culture movements

Stay in touch:

Thanks! 

This guide was heavily inspired by similar guides for BoulderKansas CityAustin and Des Moines.

Thanks to Josh Krakauer, Eric Bailey and Andy Stoll for additions and suggestions.

Something amiss? Email me (sarah.binder@sourcemedia.net).