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Clancey: Corridor a Model For Nation
C.R. Chamber Leader Speaks at I.C. Dinner

Dave DeWitte

The Gazette

February 2, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

   IOWA CITY — When Iowa City’s leading business group asked the president of Cedar Rapids’ leading business group to speak at its annual dinner, you could be sure regionalism would be on the menu.
   Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of C o m m e r c e President Lee Clancey managed to transcend the obvious last night, urging Iowa C i t y A r e a Chamber of C o m m e r c e members to think creatively about ways to make the region a model for the nation.

   Clancey said the establishment of a regional identity in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Technology Corridor has reached a ‘‘tipping point’’ beyond which its residents regard themselves a part of a greater regional community just as people from outside view the area as one region.

   The former Cedar Rapids mayor provided her recipe for regional success in unabbreviated fashion.

   The recipe called for ample doses of educational excellence, creativity, entrepreneurship, and inclusiveness, along with an advantageous tax structure for business growth and funding support for research and business risk.

   Clancey stressed creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, saying the Corridor must establish a regional ‘‘brand’’ as recognizable as any consumer brand.

   The Sydney, Australia, bridge climb was offered as one example of creative risktaking aligned with a regional identity. Clancey said entrepreneurs in Sydney tried for years to convince local government to permit guided treks over the city’s 400-foottall Sydney Harbour Bridge.

   When the fears of risk and liability were finally overcome, the 363-day-per-year, 12-hour-per day bridge climb venture became an identifying feature of Sydney’s exciting spirit, bringing in tens of millions of dollars per year at more than $125 per climber.

   ‘‘We need to figure out how to work together to create a region without boundaries that engages our citizens intellectually, sparks creative thinking, and attracts young people,’’ Clancey said.

   Clancey quoted Rockwell Collins Chairman Clay Jones on establishing a better perspective of the region. She said half of the U.S., like Iowa, is an area of flat terrain with cold winters and no oceans. The Corridor should
stop apologizing, she said, and promote its unique advantages.

   Both the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area chambers lost their presidents to resignations in June. Nancy Q u e l l h o r s t , named president of the Iowa City chamber last week, said she envisions a chamber that leads community development. She called the Cedar Rapids chamber as ‘‘strong and willing partner.’’

   ‘‘Together, we rock!’’ she proclaimed.

   Past Chamber President Glenn Siders praised interim President Maggie Grosvenor Mowery for helping the chamber to close large divisions and showing the group how to rebuild.

   The dinner was the first held in the downtown hotel-Vetro & Conference Center.