The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

About those Chicago billboards

The Iowa Department of Economic Development has been advertising Iowa, as a place to live, in Chicago since the 1980s.

The department ran an ad on billboards along I-294, I-90, I-290 and I-94 in May, June and July of 2007. Those are all, of course, major interstates that can have apoplexy-inducing traffic.

Here’s the ad:

This advertisement ran on billboards along interstates in Chicago in 2007.

This advertisement ran on billboards along interstates in Chicago in 2007.

The Iowa Department of Economic Development calls this “workforce recruitment,” an effort to reach University of Iowa graduates or native Iowans living in Chicago, get them to come back and raise their families here.

It’s really a far cry from the local myth that Iowa has been running Section 8 ads in south Chicago for years, but as Steve Rackis, the guy who oversees Section 8 in Iowa City, points out, everyone drives on the interstate, and everyone likes the idea of a safe, quiet place with good schools and no traffic.

So certainly, some low-income black people have seen these ads and responded by moving to Iowa. I spoke with a such a family earlier this week.

More on this later. The Section 8 story continues to evolve. Would love to keep getting your thoughts.


Filed under: Cedar Rapids City Council, Iowa City, Public Safety

7 Responses

  1. concerned_citizen says:

    How about “Come to Iowa, we don’t check for out of state warrants!”

  2. any word on school enrollments from the chicago area to here ? i would love to see those numbers for the past 10 years for the entire district. i think that would tell more of the story.

  3. Sue says:

    So, I have a stupid question. I moved to the area from Chicago. My husband and I both found jobs, so we relocated here and purchased a home here. We both pay taxes (income and property) and neither of us has been in jail, assaulted someone, stolen anything or sold drugs.

    Is the problem that we took jobs away from native-born Iowans? Or is it just that we weren’t born here? I have to say that it’s been difficult to get to know people here since we aren’t from here.

    • Brian says:

      Sue, I hope you don’t feel slighted. It’s unfortunate that you’ve been linked together with the “bad group” from Chicago. I myself am not originally from Iowa, I went to college in Cedar Rapids and stayed after finding a job. While originally from the Northeast, and not Chicago, I feel your pain in feeling a little slighted because I’m not native-born.

      My hope is it will change, but you never know.

  4. adambelz says:

    Sue! Let’s have a beer! Or you could come to The Gazette and we could have a bad cup of coffee. I like people from Chicago, and I know a lot of other people in Cedar Rapids who do too.


  5. Brady Dorman says:

    It’s unfortunate that a minority of somewhat misinformed, but particularly vocal citizens can drive rumors like this that ultimately create false stereotypes and just make the relatively minor problems we actually have worse.

  6. OT says:

    Obviously, the type of people like Sue and Brian that migrate to this area truly in search of a slower, professional atmosphere to further their career are not the focus of this situation. For you to even think that our focus on this sitation in this community has anything to do with seemingly good people like yourselves is almost silly. We welcome you, need more of you, and love to keep you here for a very long time.
    Here’s how our situation got to be the way it is (not all of it, but primarily):
    – It only takes a couple of people/families to establish themselves here, and for lack of a better term, open the flood gates. A working, contributing member of society may relocate here, and unfortunately less driven, less ambitious members come along and feign taking advantage of a better opportunity. The indulgent lifestyle that they have presented to them on a daily basis through television and music is desired, however this is when the drive and ambition are required, and those who get desperate or conditioned enough turn to illegal means to obtain what they want.
    – Some of our own less desirable individuals in the community (young females in particular) will aid and enable the situation by engaging in relationships with transients or people squatting between city to city. From the article, it emphasizes that Chicagoans are not the majority of our section 8 cases, but young, single parent, females are, and have become the prey of these types of people we are talking about. They hang in packs (typically because of the govt housing), and have the same type of lower values and standards. Not quantifying all young ladies on assistance, but I hope you can follow me. It only takes a few apples to spoil the bunch, and these apples tend to be in that demographic. It’s not like 50-60 people are getting shot and killed, it’s a handful, and it’s this demo.
    Sorry for the novel. Couldn’t help myself.

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