|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||1||$800,000|
Iowa City hosts a large young adult population due to its proximity to the University of Iowa. While Iowa City is highly ranked in education among U.S. college towns, the American Institute for Economic Research shows that Iowa City ranks lower for innovation. With access to a highly educated young population and a desire to retain that potential locally, Iowa City has turned towards increasing opportunities for entrepreneurship in technology.
In June 2016, the EDA granted $800,000 in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) to help fund the MERGE Space. MERGE is a partnership between ICAD, the University of Iowa Office for Research and Economic Development, and Iowa City that will support local entrepreneurs by bringing together coders, developers, engineers, 3-D designers, program writers and entrepreneurs.
The MERGE project will renovate the Iowa City Public Library into a non-traditional tech incubator with a prototype lab (the IC CoLab) and co-working space to support local tech entrepreneurs. The goal is to bring innovation into Iowa City and promote collaboration among the entrepreneurs to create new products and solutions. Renovations are scheduled to be completed by late 2017. The new facility will build an entrepreneurial ecosystem and keep young professionals in the region, furthering ICAD’s ability to grow tech companies. By providing the space for entrepreneurs to grow together, the MERGE project is expected to increase the viability of Iowa City’s tech sector and provide new economic growth in the region.