Cedar Rapids is among 11 Iowa communities announced today as finalists in the Blue Zones Project.

The 11 finalist communities are Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Davenport, Mason City, Muscatine, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Spencer, Waterloo.

In late February, the Blue Zones Project Team will begin visiting the 11 finalist communities in a series of site visits, which are similar to a job interview. The communities will learn more about what it means to become a Blue Zones Community, while the Blue Zones Project Team will have the opportunity to better understand each community’s readiness.

Site visits conclude in March and the first round of demonstration sites will be announced in May. For more information on the Blue Zones Project, visit www.bluezonesproject.com.

Because of the interest in the program from so many communities, the program has been expanded and a second group of Iowa communities with populations of 10,000 or less will be announced in May.

“To meet the demand and diverse needs, we have developed opportunities for both large and small communities — leading to the same destination of becoming a Blue Zones Community,” said Wellmark Executive Vice President Laura Jackson.

The project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by author Dan Buettner. Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives.

In the first application round in November, 84 communities indicated an interest in becoming Blue Zones Project demonstration sites. Of these 84 communities, 58 were asked to submit a comprehensive application. In January, 54 communities submitted their applications to continue their journey to become a demonstration site.