Iowa City, North Liberty, Coralville sign pact not to poach businesses

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — Stronger together, that’s what Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty are calling themselves after signing an agreement not to poach businesses from one another.

Today, mayors from each city gathered together with the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) at Merge, to sign the agreement.

With the stroke of a pen, it’s official. Three area mayors agreed to share information when it comes to business development.

“We are trying to preserve and enlarge the businesses we have locally. The next step is if we have a business that is looking at moving, then we want to see, the next step, how we can keep them in the area,” said North Liberty Mayor, Terry Donahue.

The agreement states that cities participating won’t approach each other’s existing businesses with incentives, like grants or tax breaks, enticing them to relocate. It also states that developers looking to fill commercial spaces will agree to do the same.

“This will allow us to be able to not only sell that new business that wants to come to Coralville, on what we have to offer, but allows them to see what the whole region brings. It’s not one individual city in this, we all have something to offer,” said Coralville Mayor, John Lundell.

The mayors said this solidifies their efforts to work together, to strengthen and market the region as a whole, said Donahue, “As a conglomerate of communities can do mutual mass marketing, recruitment, because what effects one is going to help the other communities, irregardless.”

Mayor Lundell added, “There are strength in numbers, there is strength in functioning as a region.”

According to Iowa City Mayor, Jim Throgmorton the plan was sparked by past challenges, “The idea is at least five years old, and it has to do with some difficulties that we were collectively experiencing back then.”

Area businesses, like High Ground Cafe see the benefits of a partnership like this, as they have multiple locations within the cities.

“All the city’s want to kind of get on board to help each other grow. North Liberty, everybody is commuting down to Iowa City and Coralville, so were kind one big town in most people’s eyes so I would obviously agree with anything that would support that,” said High Grounds Cafe Owner, Wesley Ward.

When asked if this plan would interfere with the free market and businesses ability to choose they said this was more of a communication plan. It’ll give the cities an even playing field when it comes to attracting new business.

In practice this means the city administrators and managers will be responsible for communicating with one another and that they’ll still be able to broadly market their cities, as long as they don’t directly offer incentives.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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