Many people know Iowa for its cornfields and quadrennial visits by presidential hopefuls. But a $107 million industrial property deal in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, signals that corporations are giving smaller cities a serious look. The facility is a 278,000-square-foot build-to-suit that opened in November 2022 and is home to BAE Systems’ Navigation and Sensor Systems business.
“We’re seeing a lot of industrial,” says David Wilson, CCIM, Vice President of real estate development at Ryan Companies, in Cedar Rapids. And Iowa is a bellwether for small towns attracting industrial development, he says, “especially if they have a network available through transportation.”
He points to two towns in Iowa that “have just exploded with industrial growth.” One is Dyersville, a town of 4,000 people, where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. The other is Peosta, which has 1,900 people. “Both are on Highway 20, and that transportation network, which extends to Chicago and Sioux City, has been critical. Plus, the two towns have invested in industrial parks and created great incentives for tenants to locate there,” he adds.
“Iowa is a bellwether for small towns attracting industrial development, especially if they have a network available through transportation.”
-David Wilson, CCIM, Vice President of real estate development, Ryan Companies, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Wilson, a key player in the project, attributes his company’s winning the project to several factors, including:
- Company strength and location: The company has experience with projects of this size and nature and offices in both Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.
- Labor pool: “Iowa has the highest concentration of agricultural engineers of any state,” Wilson says. It’s also home to three state colleges and many trade schools.
- Export and transport capabilities: “Our exporting is very strong because of our advanced manufacturing and ability to ship by water, rail, air and highway,” he says.
Adapted from the Commercial Investment Real Estate podcast episode “The Potential for Big Deals in Smaller Markets.”