The Iowa flood of 2008 devastated Cedar Rapids. There was so much damage that the city was forced to rebuild many of its historic buildings and businesses from the ground-up, a project that is still ongoing five years later.
“It’s exciting to be here with the momentum we have right now,” says Jennifer Pickar, director of communications and marketing for the Cedar Rapids Area CVB (CRACVB). “We’ve been through a terrible event, stayed resilient and came out better than ever.”
A variety of new construction projects are under way in the “City of Five Seasons,” with an emphasis on generating more tourism revenue in the area, including expanded business from both regional and national meeting and event planners.
Perhaps the most notable addition to the downtown area is the Doubletree by Hilton Cedar Rapids Convention Complex at the U.S. Cellular Center, which celebrated its grand opening on May 31. The complex offers more than 80,000 square feet of combined exhibit and meeting space, making it the second-largest convention center in Iowa. Its design incorporates custom artwork and an abundance of windows to give it a fresh, modern look.
“The convention center is going to allow us to attract a lot of larger conventions and events we weren’t previously able to bid on, benefitting the community and its surrounding hotels,” says Angela Vande Wall, director of convention sales for the CRACVB.
Outside of the new convention center, Cedar Rapids offers a surprising amount of entertainment options at recently renovated venues such as the Paramount Theatre, Theatre Cedar Rapids and CSPS Hall, a historic brick building more than a century old that houses galleries and a theater.
Five years after the flood, Cedar Rapids has rebuilt itself into a desirable meeting destination, with future projects proving there is plenty for planners to get excited about.