New to the Creative Corridor entrepreneurial community? Start here.
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:
- Vault Coworking & Collaboration Space (Cedar Rapids) – shares a building with Geonetric and the Iowa Startup Accelerator
- IC CoLab (Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty locations)
- Busy Coworking (Iowa City) – a smaller boutique space
- Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) and Thinc Collaboration Lab (Iowa City) – Owned and operated by the University of Iowa; BELL is exclusive to student startups
Coffee shops and bars entrepreneurs frequent:
- Brewhemia (Cedar Rapids – NewBo district)
- Early Bird (Cedar Rapids – downtown)
- Java House (Iowa City – multiple locations)
- Lion Bridge Brewery (Cedar Rapids)
- Clinton Street Social Club (Iowa City)
- Sanctuary Pub (Iowa City)
- The Mill (Iowa City)
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:
- Subscribe to the We Create Here newsletter and watch for the weekly Innovation Index
- Get the Creative Corridor Digest for a weekly rundown of local events
- The Welch Avenue Weekly gives the top three stories from across the state
- Join the Startup Iowa group on Facebook
- Follow Corridor Startups and the broader creative community on Twitter
- Silicon Prairie News covers entrepreneurship and technology in Iowa, Nebraska and the greater Kansas City metro