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Price of Prestige

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Cedar Rapids officials, employees and residents are packing their bags for a trip to Colorado this weekend. Theyre going to Denver to make Cedar Rapids pitch to the National Civic League for why they City of Five Seasons should be an All-America City.

The citys presentation includes 39 people going to Denver. Add in a fee to be in the running and its quickly clear that the honor of being an All-America City doesnt come cheap.

"Well it's a very prestigious award, said the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President and C.E.O. Marilee Fowler. It's recognized all over the country that a city has received that."

But the price tag upfront could be steep.

To get 11 city employees and three City Council members to Denver, itll cost Cedar Rapids $18,000, which will come out of individual department budgets.

"The other 25 community members are supported by sponsorships, said Assistant City Manager Sandi Fowler. With those sponsorships, we've raised about $27,000 dollars from private industry."

That $27,000 also includes a delegation cost paid to the National Civic League. The trip isnt cheap, but the idea is that winning the award will bring it back with the impression itll make on potential employers.

"That shield, the All-America City shield, tells them that an independent organization looks at us and says, We overcome challenges, we're problem solvers, we make things happen in a community, said Sandi.

Sandi says the Dubuque City Manager told her that the award caught IBMs eye. Now, that company is the 4th largest employer in the area, creating more than 1,000 jobs.

Marilee lived in Evansville, Indiana when they became an All-America city. She says like Cedar Rapids, they also focused on downtown revitalization.

"But I think the story here in Cedar Rapids even more in-depth, said Marilee. It has so much more to offer with our accomplishments with the flood and how quickly we've turned it around." 

"Six short years, said Sandi. If you talk to other cities with natural disasters, what we've done in six short years really is phenomenal."

The city will make its pitch on Saturday, just one day after the six-year anniversary of the Cedar River cresting in 2008. The award presentation is on Sunday.

Cedar Rapids is one of 25 cities making the trip, hoping to be one of the 10 to win the award for 2014.
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