Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, IA 09-28-07 Metro area's output grows By DAN GEARINO, Courier Des Moines Bureau DES MOINES --- The Waterloo-Cedar Falls area's gross domestic product grew by 2.7 percent from 2004 to 2005, a rate that ranks 189th out of 363 metropolitan areas in the nation. The figures were released this week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Commerce Department. "We've added more than 2,000 jobs to the Waterloo economy in the past several years," said Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley, "I'm pleased with the report because the numbers are a good yardstick to show how Waterloo and the Cedar Valley is progressing." Waterloo-Cedar Falls had a gross domestic product of $6.12 billion in 2005, up from $5.96 billion in 2004. "All of our economic development efforts are paying off in many ways," Hurley said. "I've been saying it's steady as we grows and that's exactly what this report from the Department of Commerce reflects." The Waterloo region has the fifth largest economy in the state out of nine metropolitan areas, behind Omaha-Council Bluffs, Des Moines, the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids. In terms of growth rate, the region ranks sixth, ahead of the Quad Cities, Sioux City and Ames. Steve Dust, an economic development executive with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance, said the numbers reflect a time when growth was slower than it is today. He expects greater growth over the next few years. "It begins to show the early stages of what we are seeing in the Cedar Valley, which is strong growth in terms of capital investment and internal expansion," he said. Looking at the specific sectors, more than half of the region's growth is attributable to the financial services industry, the report says. The fastestshrinking sector is natural resources and mining, though no sector had major losses. Gross domestic product is the sum of all the goods and services produced in an area. To be designated as a metropolitan area, a region must have a core urban area of at least 50,000 people. Iowa State University economist Peter Orazem said the report shows a continuation of long-term trends across Iowa. "The overall story is that cities in Iowa are growing relatively slowly compared to cities on the coasts and the south. That's been going on for a long time," he said. He said a region's gross domestic product tracks closely with income levels, so the report is in many ways a repeat of Census figures with similar findings. Des Moines had the fastest growing gross domestic product in Iowa, with 7.2 percent growth, which ranks 24th in the nation. The only other Iowa city to crack the top 100 was Cedar Rapids, with 5.6 percent growth, which ranks 57th. Nationwide, some of the most rapid growth was in Florida, while the slowest growth was in Louisiana. Courier staff writer Tim Jamison contributed to this article.