Benchmark Report


As part of the planning work, a benchmark analysis was conducted to understand how the region is evolving and changing.

This benchmarking analysis is part of the Envision East Central Iowa comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) planning project.

This report is the companion report to the Envision East Central Iowa Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Report. It explores the past and current state of demographic and socio-economic indicators and industry sectors in the six counties of East Central Iowa and compares innovation indicators with the peer cities highlighted in the region’s 2019 Annual Scorecard. Most data in this report are sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s StatsAmerica Innovation Intelligence website at (


This report helps provide a contextual foundation for the Envision East Central Iowa planning work. The planning process identified a desire for an ambitious future, driven by an innovation focus and building human capacity in the region. This benchmark report explores metrics around socio-economic indicators, innovation capacity, and core industry sectors and clusters.

  • THE REGIONAL POPULATION IS GROWING AND CHANGING – The East Central Iowa region has reached a critical population mass of nearly half a million people. The forecasts are that the regional population will continue to grow at a steady pace. While the region is still predominately white (84%), there is a relatively rapid expansion in the diversity of the population. Over the last 20 years, the region has changed from being about 70% urbanized to 80% urbanized.

  • SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS SHOW POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES – The East Central Iowa region performs comparably in the terms of socio-economic indicators, relative to Iowa and US. However, there are some indications that disparity gaps are growing, and household prosperity may be challenged. The region’s higher education facilities are an outstanding strength that provide residents with access to world class education. Economic concentration is occurring in the two urbanized counties (Johnson and Linn), and their relative share of the GDP is increasing significantly.

  • STRONG RELATIVE PERFORMANCE ON ‘INNOVATION INTELLIGENCE INDEX’ – The Envision East Central Iowa planning process has placed a high priority of on creating an innovation focus to address future approaches to development, and to tackle workforce and social evolution. Overall, East Central Iowa measures comparably well in innovation capacity relative to other economic development districts. This region ranks 56 out of 393 Economic Development Districts (within the US) on the overall Innovation Intelligence Index.

  • THE REGIONAL ECONOMY GROWING AND CHANGING – The region has outperformed the US and Iowa in relative GDP growth between 2000 and 2020. However, the full impacts of the pandemic and the medium-term rate of recovery are still to play out. There is a transition occurring in the regional economy, as the pivot occurs to technology driven clusters and industries. The relative employment is declining in the Food / Bioprocessing, manufacturing and logistics and transportation clusters, and there are strong relative employment increases in Engineering and automation, and Education and technology services clusters.

    Etiam magna arcu, ullamcorper ut pulvinar et, ornare sit amet ligula. Aliquam vitae bibendum lorem. Cras id dui lectus. Pellentesque nec felis tristique urna lacinia sollicitudin ac ac ex. Maecenas mattis faucibus condimentum. Curabitur imperdiet felis at est posuere bibendum. Sed quis nulla tellus.


    63739 street lorem ipsum City, Country


    +12 (0) 345 678 9


    [email protected]