CLIENT: Grow Cedar Valley, Deere & Co., Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments (INRCOG)

DATE: 2022

NEED: Talent attraction and retention studies have shown that quality of life is a top priority for talent attraction across the state and the region. Iowans score recreation as high priority, while entertainment options appear lacking.

The Cedar Valley River Experience is an ambitious initiative that brings two communities and their assets together to create a greater draw and wider positioning, proposing projects that fulfill a regional quality-of-life-oriented vision centered around the Cedar River. 

VISION AND GOALS: The Cedar Valley River Experience Vision focuses on enhancing and amplifying the Cedar Valley’s greatest asset–the Cedar River. The Vision’s goals are to: 

  • Link downtown Waterloo and downtown Cedar Falls by a durable natural asset – the Cedar River
  • Increase outdoor recreation opportunities and create new tourism opportunities to support the area’s hospitality and retail base
  • Increase the density of destinations linked by the river to put the Cedar Valley area on the map and distinguish it within the State of Iowa and the Midwest
  • Bring new business to the region and attract and retain workforce in the Cedar Valley
  • Transform the region into a competitive force for state and federal funding to implement the Vision’s key projects

OPPORTUNITIES: As a first step in regional collaboration and positioning, local leaders created the Cedar Valley River Experience Vision Steering Committee. Together they identified key multi- and cross-jurisdictional opportunities including:

  1. Celebrating the Water – Cedar Falls
  2. Promoting the Chain of Lakes 
  3. Celebrating the Waterloo River Basin District
  4. Continue Building a Strong Downtown Waterloo
  5. Linking Communities with Our Shared Brand and Key Economic Asset—the Cedar River
  6. Cross-utilization of Historic Downtowns
  7. Enhancing Regional Mobility

KEY PROJECTS: To advance these opportunities and generate momentum, these projects were given priority:

  • Whitewater Course
  • Multimodal Parking Center
  • Cedar Falls River Recreation Future Projects
  • Waterloo Marina Phase 2 and 3
  • Hard Court Tournament Center
  • Cattle Congress Master Plan
  • San Souci Campground Improvements
  • Cedar Falls Marina Expansion
  • River Road Parkway Expansion
  • Connector Projects
  • Cedar Valley Marketing and Promotion
  • Multi-jurisdictional Cedar River Valley Experience Capital Improvement Projects