July 11, 2012
Cedar Valley of Iowa
Alliance Moves to Protect Talent and Value in Regional Economy
TechWorks Campus and The Green@TechWorks Continue to Progress
Despite PFG Troubles
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber(GCVAC) and our TechWorks Campus group are dismayed by the recent events surrounding Peregrine Financial Group (PFG) and PFGBest. The Wasendorf family has been engaged, highly supportive volunteers in both the Alliance & Chamber and TechWorks Campus. The Alliance & Chamber was deeply involved in helping move PFG’s headquarters to the Cedar Valley. The events of the week are tragic personally and to a community that had come to appreciate the economic and civic contributions of PFG and the Wasendorf family.
As events unfold and facts surrounding PFG continue to emerge, we want to assure the stakeholders and investors of the Alliance & Chamber and TechWorks Campus that this group is working to ensure our Cedar Valley economic progress continues unabated, even in light of a high-profile business failure.
- Talent: The talented people of PFG are important to the Cedar Valley. The sectors represented by their strengths are growing in the Cedar Valley, but we must act quickly to retain the talent pool here. We are contacting Cedar Valley businesses where similar skills are valued and needed, and working to match former PFG talent to firms where their talent may be required immediately. These talented people and their families can help ensure the technology-based products and financial services sectors continue to grow, hospitality choices are maintained, and these employees’ generous work in our civic life can continue.
- PFGBEST operations: As bleak as it appears three days into this personal and business tragedy, the Alliance & Chamber will work to keep PFG’s core operations in software, in whole or in part, located in the Cedar Valley. The intellectual property-based operations of PFGBest are a good match to our base. It is to the regional economy’s and Iowa’s benefit to work with firms to continue these operations here. That is our goal. We are working with the Iowa Economic Development Authority for their data and marketing support in this new, highly focused recovery plan.
- Scale: For a number of reasons, this has become a very high-profile event. Let’s keep this in perspective. Economically, PFG’s demise dents the strength of the Cedar Valley regional economy. What this is not is a situation where a firm faces demise a failing economy, such as when Rath Packing failed and left many relatively unskilled people unemployed some 30 years ago. When the firm located here a few years ago, analysts at the University of Northern Iowa helped us determine PFG’s economic impact is approximately $125million per year. The areas that will feel immediate impact include services, retail and non-profits, where reduced purchases purchases, and pledges and contributions made through Peregrine Charities, will be reduced or disappear. This does not count the contribution of time by talented people. These losses are important and will be painful to adjust to. In this organization, we are losing two board members and passionate advocates, and the loss of PFG’s investment is very significant to us. Nevertheless, many of these talented people have exceptional opportunity to move quickly to other, similar positions in the strong Cedar Valley economy. The voids left by the financial contributions will undoubtedly be filled over time by firms and individuals in the region who are strengthened by this talent and benefit from our local vitality as a business location.
- TechWorks Progress Unabated: The original plan for The Green@TechWorks Campus included a restaurant to be owned and operated by PFG’s chair, Russ Wasendorf Sr. The developer of The Green has secured the hotel operations firm, The Amin Group, to take over the restaurant and catering location(s) on the Campus. While the PFG/Green operation was deeply involved in the planning of the renewable energy system being developed on the campus, PFG was not involved in the financing of any component of the project. The energy generation and education component of the campus is under the ownership of the developer, FDP, and continues without delay. In summary and to point, the PFG events do not impact the schedule, progress or financing of any component of the TechWorks Campus.
- Russ Wasendorf Sr. served on the board of directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. His position will be filled as we elect a new board in the coming weeks. He also served on the GCVAC fundraising campaign committee.
- Russ Wasendorf Jr. served on the board of directors of TechWorks. We are confident his full attention will be required as the business winds down.
The events surrounding the Wasendorf family and PFG companies are tragic, at a personal level, and to the entire business community. This statement opened with the word, “dismayed.” Aren’t we all? However, in the spirit of Midwesterners, this will be recognized as a setback overcome by very strong commitment to progress, the typical ethic of hard work applied to productive endeavor, and the willingness to take failure in stride as a next step toward greater success of our Cedar Valley economy. In the face of this tragedy, we are pleased to say it is not an economic dilemma, as this area has faced in the past, but an opportunity to strengthen what we’ve started. As always, you are invited to accept the invitation to:
Be Part of Something Greater…The Cedar Valley of Iowa.
Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and TechWorks Campus: Steven Dust, CEO – call 319-232-1156
The Green@TechWorks – Financial District Properties (FDP): Bryce Henderson, CFO/COO – call 563-324-9898