Hiawatha Continues to Attract Businesses and Boost Economic Development
Hiawatha Economic Development
In 1950, businessman, author, and visionary Fay Clark spearheaded an effort to make Hiawatha, Iowa, the 17th incorporated town in Linn County. Back then small homes and trailers dotted the land. But Clark had big dreams for the town. No doubt he would be pleased with today’s progress and growth. More than 60 years later, Hiawatha has become a highly desirable location for many business owners.
The Hiawatha Economic Development Corporation—or HEDCO—is devoted to attracting new business and growing the economy. Hiawatha’s focus on Iowa economic development, coupled with its favorable tax structure—including incentives like tax increment financing (TIF)—make the town of more than 7,000 residents a very business-friendly environment. Using TIF as an incentive worked wonders in convincing World Class Industries to locate in Hiawatha, according to a 2012 article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Back in 1994, the company consolidated from four buildings into one Hiawatha headquarters building.
“It gave us back 50 percent of the taxes we would pay on the building weconstructed for the first eight and one-half years,” according to World Class Board Chairman Pat Cobb, in the article. With a goal of “continued growth and commitment to success,” the Hiawatha mayor and city council are thrilled that many companies continue to build or
relocate to Hiawatha.
Businesses seem to thrive in Hiawatha. In fact, out of 25 total businesses honored, six Hiawatha companies were recognized last year by the Corridor Business Journal as the fastest-growing businesses out of all Iowa economic development centers. They were ranked according to revenue growth and their contributions to the local economy. Those companies include:
- Compass Commercial Services
- Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc.
- Mobile Demand
- The Crystal Group Inc.
- Hawkeye Communications/Fandel Alarms
- CEC Communications Engineering Company
In its 2012 survey, Inc Magazine chose three Hiawatha businesses for their 5,000 list of the fastest-growing U.S. private companies. The companies were MobileDemand, Health Solutions, and Ready Wireless. According to www.city-data.com, the most common industries in Hiawatha include manufacturing (28%), administrative (12%) and construction (11%). However, a wide variety of businesses have chosen to make Hiawatha their home. Some have come because of proximity to Interstate 380, some by the availability of land and buildings and still others because securing a location was easier in Hiawatha than other locations.
In an effort to continue attracting strong businesses to Hiawatha, the city works to connect with area businesses by hosting quarterly HEDCO Summits, holding a State of the City Lunch, and working on a one-one-one basis as needed. These sessions bring together business leaders and allow city leaders to better understand their business needs and interests.