More than 800 businesses in Cedar Rapids were impacted by flooding in June. While some of those businesses are closed for good, others are just starting to welcome back employees and customers. Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce President Lee Clancey says the downtown area received a big boost when Diamond V Mills, and it’s 200 employees, recently returned to 100 percent production.
"They were very, very hard hit by the flood. They lost both their headquarters and their production facility," Clancey said. "Their employees have just done unbelievable work to get that plant back into production." Hundreds of employees at Quaker Oats, meanwhile, are still in clean up mode.
"They’re a food grade industry, so they have to make sure that they have every single piece of dirt out of there. It has to be…floors you can eat on practically," Clancey said. The Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids is billed as the world’s largest cereal factory. One of the biggest pieces to the downtown puzzle was put in place last week when the Crowne Plaza Hotel reopened. The hotel has 250 rooms.
Clancey says the added hotel rooms are needed for all the clean up crews, contractors and volunteers in Cedar Rapids helping with flood recovery. "We have some contractors staying as far away as the Quad Cities," Clancey said. A number of bars, restaurants and coffee shops in downtown Cedar Rapids remain closed. Clancey says owners of those businesses are waiting for larger commercial businesses to move back downtown.
"Until that employee base gets back up to a critical mass, it would be somewhat foolish for them to get up and running ahead of that curve," Clancey said. The Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has launched a couple of programs designed to help flooded businesses.
Clancey says this week they delivered the first of 10 checks, worth $228,000, from a Job and Small Business Recovery Fund. Another effort, called "Adopt a Business," involves mostly non-impacted businesses helping impacted businesses recover.