“It helps a very talented professional team do our jobs more effectively and increase the competitive stance of the Cedar Valley in a global economy.” This is how Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber describes his motivation for announcing recent promotions within that economic and community development corporation.
The announcement describes a realignment of existing staff. No new hires were made, and no compensation adjustments were included in the process, Dust emphasizes. “We did this to operate more efficiently as a combined economic development, redevelopment, and community development organization, he says. Team members who do similar things are grouped by related functions, yet it allows us to remain flexible to very quickly attack any opportunity or issue in our economic area.”
In the new alignment, Dust is supported by four vice presidents, including Lisa Skubal, CEcD, who was named Vice President of Economic Development. Lisa oversees all business expansion and recruitment programs, marketing and project management, talent recruitment and retention, and business and economic information gathering. “Lisa enjoys a statewide reputation as one of the best in our field. Her professional growth has given her the skills to lead the team that helps wealth creating businesses and institutions locate and expand in the Cedar Valley of Iowa,” explained Dust.
Dust also named Cary Darrah as Vice President of Community Development. “Cary was brought into the Alliance & Chamber structure to manage the TechWorks Campus redevelopment, in large part because of the marvelous job she did in Cedar Falls Main Street organization, said Dust. “She has the Campus on a good trajectory with The Green @ TechWorks project getting underway in Tech II, and several good manufacturing technology-related opportunities exploring space commitments in Tech I. As I looked at the skills necessary to deal with our Competitiveness and Amenities work, which includes things like networking and events, local issues management, improving our infrastructure for business growth, and Leader Valley educational programs, it matched up nicely with Cary’s organizational skills and interests,” concluded Dust.
“In many regards, the Alliance & Chamber is a growing, entrepreneurial small business,” explains Dust. “We’re growth-oriented, and focused on doing what’s expected of us by our customers and clients, our investor-members, and this team faces the same kind of challenges our investor-members do in handling all the human resources, IT, facilities, and administrative tasks, and holding each other accountable for the wise use of our talents and resources. We take this very seriously, and to oversee the administrative components of the Alliance & Chamber, we have elevated Sandi Sommerfelt to Vice President of Operations. Sandi was in a similar VP role at another business, and she’s demonstrated that she can effectively lead and keep us well organized.”
At the same time, the CFO role held by Sue Hansen, CPA, becomes a part-time position. “Sue has worked very hard to bring us to an even higher level of management reporting and compliance with changing requirements. Sue will remain focused on our financial reporting and major HR issues, where she also has deep experience and knowledge, while having more time for family pursuits and personal interests.” said Dust.
“As we looked at the goals we expect to accomplish for the Cedar Valley business community and economic area this fiscal year (which began on July 1), and the number of complex and sometimes new challenges we’ll face, it became obvious to the senior team a realignment was necessary to get it all done effectively. It also permits me to spend more time on strategic business development, regional issues, and investor relationships. We’ll still be stretched, but this arrangement of duties and leadership will help relieve that challenge”, claimed Dust.
Dust concludes, “I think the most important thing to communicate to our investor-members, the business community in general, and all of the partners we rely on in accomplishing our work is that there is a team of highly talented, motivated and enthusiastic economic and community development professionals working every day in the Alliance & Chamber to increase wealth and economic vitality in the Cedar Valley economic area.”
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, not-for-profit corporation whose investors include businesses, institutions, local governments and professionals dedicated to continuously improving the economic environment and quality of life in the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber works to increase wealth and economic vitality through collaborative economic and community development throughout the Cedar Valley economic area.