For almost two years, I’ve been the Director of Talent Attraction for ICR Iowa. It’s my dream job, because I get to tell the world why Iowa City-Cedar Rapids (ICR) is the best place to live, and there’s nothing I love more than bragging about Iowa. Our team has told the story of ICR in many different ways, to thousands of people around the country and the world. We’ve used videos, pictures, stories and articles. We talk about restaurants, theaters, festivals, sports, and schools. Big city living, we say. All the great amenities with none of the hassle, we boast. And it’s all true.

At least it was until this past week, when many of our beloved businesses and attractions were forced to close or cancel for the foreseeable future to keep the community safe.

So what is there left to be proud of — to brag about — when everything changes overnight? Why am I proud to live in ICR, even now, during this unprecedented and difficult time?

I’m proud of our people.

We’re creating Facebook groups to let each other know which restaurants are offering drive up services — and we are showing up to buy. Our college students are creating a network of errand-runners to help those that may be immunocompromised. We’re ordering books, clothes and jewelry online from local retailers to help get them through. Our musicians, artists and chefs are offering free virtual classes to anyone who needs a little extra motivation to pass the hours.

I’m proud of our businesses.

We’re converting a whiskey distillery and a lip balm factory into hand sanitizer manufacturers. We’re pivoting a business model to create over 5 million CDC-approved COVID-19 tests. We’re creating family-style menu options for curbside pickup and waiving fees on a local food-delivery platform. We’re setting up a network of over forty 3D printers to manufacture medical face shields.

I’m proud of our spirit.

I’m proud of our teachers, delivering learning materials online because they love and miss their students. I’m proud of my friends, scheduling virtual happy hours so we can see each other. I’m proud of our health care, grocery, and postal workers, and all other essential personnel. I’m proud to call them my friends, my family, and my community. My people. Not you or me. Us.

There are lots of great cities out there. Cities with great restaurants and theaters. Cities with great people. But what I have seen from the ICR community in the face of the adversity we’re facing right now underscores what I’ve been saying all along: this place is special. We’re nimble. We’re smart. We’re creative. And we’re the most loving people on the planet.

My job is to attract talented candidates and passionate people to ICR Iowa, and this is a difficult time to think about moving anywhere. But whenever this is behind us — and it will be behind us — I will have a new chapter in the story I tell. A chapter about resilience and love and innovation. Proof that if you’re here, we will fiercely take care of you. Proof that even when you strip everything else away, ICR reveals itself to be what it always was and always will be: the best place in the world to live.

Written by Tim Carty, Director of Talent Attraction for ICR IOWA

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