Work could get underway on a new convention center in downtown Cedar Rapids as soon as next year. The Urban Land Institute conducted a study that showed the convention center is a key piece in revitalizing the downtown area that was hit heavily by the flooding.

Patrick DePalma chaired the commission that’s been overseeing the project and says the center could help attract new businesses. "We’ve been looking at a very flexible space, something that could be used for meetings, for entertainment, for conventions, for exhibits, for home shows, something that could be used separately from the arena or in conjunction with the arena," DePalma says.

Estimates say a convention center could generate about $15-million a year.  DePalma says a grant to build the convention center and improve the U.S. Cellular Center arena could be announced in the coming months.

DePalma says,"I think this is very positive for the city of Cedar Rapids. I think it’s a good indication that the city is strong and we’re coming back from the flood and the future is pretty bright." DePalma says the study also looked at converting a downtown street into a promenade with sidewalk shops.