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Author Archives: AllianceChamber

In the Media: Ashley Furniture warehouse opens in Cedar Falls

“There’s a new neighbor in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park — a 153,000-square-foot neighbor.

Furniture Mart USA of Sioux Falls, S.D., has opened its new $7.2 million Ashley Furniture distribution center at 2615 Capital Way, between Bossard-IIP and the Target Distribution Center..

Stewart said city officials have been ‘very responsive’ with assistance through the start-up process, and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber has assisted in recruiting employees.”

Read the entire article here: Ashley Furniture warehouse opens in Cedar Falls, Pat Kinney, The Courier, January 17, 2018

In the Media: Steve Dust to leave Greater Cedar Valley Alliance after 14 years

“‘I’m not retiring,'” Dust said. ‘I think what made me successful here, to the extent that I was, was my experience and skills in helping organizations find that vision, refine it, and create the organization and build the organization. That’s what I’ve done. That’s what I enjoy and that’s what I’m successful with.’

‘Just as I arrived at a time when the community was trying to come together to create the Cedar Valley, now we have another generation of leadership that’s emerging,’ Dust said. ‘There’s a whole raft of new business owners and senior manager who are going to be making decisions about what this economy is going to be.'”

Steve Dust to leave Greater Cedar Valley Alliance after 14 years, Pat Kinney, The Courier, January 16, 2018

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust Is Resigning

Dust Will Continue to Run Alliance & Chamber Operations and Assist the Executive Committee with the Search for His Replacement in Interim

Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Steve Dust, CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Cedar Valley of Iowa—Steve Dust, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber (GCVAC) CEO, announced he will be leaving the organization he helped bring together 14 years ago when he was recruited to the executive role of the area’s newly formed economic development entity. Dust made the announcement at the GCVAC’s regularly scheduled board of directors meeting today.

“I’m not retiring, I’m transitioning out of my role as CEO,” said Dust. “After thoughtful consideration, I’ve come to realize that the skills needed to unify, build and develop the Alliance & Chamber over the last 14 years are very different than the skills needed to move the Alliance & Chamber to the next level. Donita (Steve’s wife) and I have decided that the best way I could serve the organization that I’ve worked to create and advance, as well as pursue the type of work that I’m best at, and most interested in, would be to leave the Alliance & Chamber.”

Dust said he notified GCVAC’s executive committee of his decision last November and they worked together on a transition plan which may run through June 30, 2018. During this interim period, Dust will assist the executive committee with the search for his replacement, while continuing to manage day-to-day operations and conduct fundraising calls for the Alliance & Chamber’s ongoing campaign. He said he and his wife hope to stay in the Cedar Valley.

“I’m so very proud of the Cedar Valley and what we’ve built together, starting with merging the Cedar Falls and Waterloo chambers together, and then merging the chambers into the Alliance,” said Dust. “The Cedar Valley is now a recognized leader in regional collaboration and impactful economic development. And, the Cedar Valley is now known for its innovation and technology-based strategies, talent recruitment and retainment initiatives, and as the center of manufacturing in Iowa.”

Manufacturing Hub

According to Tim Hurley, TechWorks board chair, Dust was instrumental in re-establishing the Cedar Valley as the center of manufacturing, by securing funding for TechWorks and receiving legislative designation for TechWorks as the Manufacturing Hub.

“Steve pursued The Iowa Reinvestment District Program as a funding tool to execute the TechWorks vision,” said Hurley. “The program provides for new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues to be re-invested within urban renewal areas—and with Steve’s leadership we received $12 million in funding.”

TechWorks Campus is an advanced manufacturing, research & development, innovation, education, commercial and manufacturing center located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. The campus is comprised of 20 acres of development sites and 180,000 square feet of flex space for innovation and development.

The TechWorks Campus is home to many entities including the University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing Center and Design Lab, Hawkeye Community College Design Lab, the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub, John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum and the newly opened Courtyard by Marriott, soon to be joined by the John Deere Training Center and Blue Iguana Restaurant in what has been known as the Tech 2 building.

“Steve was honored by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry at its 2016 Advanced Manufacturing Conference largely for not only being a vocal advocate for TechWorks and the Cedar Valley, but for bringing Iowa business issues to the statehouse in Des Moines and to Washington,” said Hurley.  “And, Washington took notice of the Cedar Valley too.”

Technology Infrastructure

Dust created the Gigabit Valley concept, emphasizing that broadband is the infrastructure of the future. He worked with the City of Waterloo to conduct studies of business and institutional broadband use which led to the creation of the Waterloo Municipal Telecom Utility. Google also recognized Cedar Falls with a 2014 eCity Award which is given to the strongest online business community in each state – the digital capitals of America.

In 2015, President Obama visited the Cedar Valley to applaud broadband leadership.

“It was a very proud day when President Obama came to the Cedar Valley to recognize CFU and the City of Cedar Falls as Iowa’s first gigabit city—and a leading broadband city in the U.S.,” said Dust. “From gaming companies to the many IT firms that make up our economic base, we’re truly a region focused on innovation and technology.”

Talent Recruitment and Retention

Bob Smith, chairman of the GCVAC board and president of Lockard, noted several successful milestones under Steve’s leadership over the Alliance & Chamber’s first 14 years, including a regional alignment calling for one voice for the Cedar Valley and a well-known and well-marketed Cedar Valley economic area, supported by a strong economic base. According to Smith, with great progress toward these initial milestones achieved, the GCVAC shifted its focus in 2014 to developing and funding long-term programs for talent recruitment and retention.

“We emerged from a board planning session, knowing the Cedar Valley’s current and future growth was directly related to the GCVAC’s success as the connector between workforce needs and talent development, recruitment and retainment,” said Smith. “We needed to begin work right away to establish programs for lifelong learning, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, as well as enhance quality of life by developing attributes, including a strengthened retail and service sector. We must make the Cedar Valley an inviting place to enjoy life, enhance a career, operate a business and retire.

We saw Steve bring business, higher education and community leaders, as well as educators and students, together to collaborate in forming the Inclusion Partnership, #LivetheValley, #WorktheValley, Leader Valley Foundation and more. Steve has many talents including being a great builder, inclusive collaborator, and program and initiative developer—and the Alliance & Chamber board is most appreciative of his leadership.  We now need to find the next CEO for Steve to pass the baton to lead fundraising efforts, develop new funding mechanisms and champion our vision to make the greater Cedar Valley, even greater.”

About the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, not-for-profit corporation working to increase wealth and economic vitality through collaborative economic and community development throughout the Cedar Valley economic area. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

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5 ON FRIDAY: FUEL FOR THOUGHT January 12, 2017

by Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

5 on Friday is a two-way street: please send me recommendations on books, reports, articles, blogs, videos, or anything you’re reading or watching that impacts business and the economy.


ONE: Deere Prospectus

Manufacturing dominates the Cedar Valley economy. John Deere dominates Cedar Valley manufacturing in many ways. As a publicly traded firm, there is a great deal of information available about John Deere and its performance in the global market. Today, the company released its 2018 Proxy Statement. It is important reading even if I can’t say it’s fun reading. There are other informative documents published on the website.

Deere & Company, Proxy Statement Pursuant to Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, January 12, 2018

TWO: MidAmerican Energy News

Many Cedar Valley businesses benefit from low electric and natural gas energy rates – both directly and through other utilities, and at high reliability levels – delivered by MidAmerican Energy. As you likely know, MidAmerican is part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which is, of course, part of Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett). There were big changes in top leadership at Berkshire Hathaway this week when Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s CEO Greg Abel was elevated to Vice-Chair of Berkshire Hathaway. Bill Fehrman, who many of you have met as CEO of MidAmerican Energy, has been elevated to CEO of Berkshire Energy, and Adam Wright is now CEO of MidAmerican Energy. We look forward to having a meeting of customers soon to meet the new leader of MidAmerican. Here’s info about Buffett naming Greg and another fellow as vice-chairs of Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire Hathaway Names Abel And Jain As Vice Chairmen As Buffett Succession Plans Sharpen, Antoine Gara, Forbes, January 10, 2018

Here’s a link to the MidAmerican Energy news release on Bill Fehrman and Adam Wright assuming new roles.

New Leadership for MidAmerican Energy Company, MidAmerican Energy News, January 11, 2018

THREE: Predictions for Manufacturing

Even the newest Cedar Valley resident knows that manufacturing plays a dominant role in our region’s economy. Courtesy of International Data Corporation (IDC) research firm, here are some high-level predictions for that sector well beyond 2018.

Top 10 Worldwide Manufacturing Predictions, Kimberly Knickle, IDC Community, November 8, 2017

FOUR: One More set of Predictions in Tech for 2018

The CEO of a tech support firm that helps business owners and leaders design technology adoption has set out a few one-year predictions, mostly on tech we already know about.

Top 10 Tech Trend Predictions For 2018 From A Tech CEO, Heinan Landa, Chief Executive, January 5, 2018

FIVE: When Should a CEO Tweet?

The nation’s CEO’s predilection to communicate via Twitter notwithstanding for a moment, there is always a question about when owners/CEOs/senior managers should use social media to communicate about controversy. Here’s some good guidance.

When Should a CEO Tweet about a Controversy? Strategy+Business, Eric J. McNulty, January 4, 2018

In the Media: Skubal on Sears Closing

“… Lisa Skubal says the closing doesn’t necessarily speak for the local economy.

‘We certainly don’t want to see something like Sears close, regardless of the size,’ said Skubal. ‘But it becomes something we can’t control. They have to do what’s in their best interest. But when we see other businesses in that area develop and grow-the business model isn’t the same for every company. We’re seeing that by growth of new retail establishments in and around that area and in the Cedar Valley.'”

Lisa Skubal is Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.

Sears to close in Waterloo, Written by Elizabeth Amanieh, KWWL Reporter, KWWL, January 4, 2018

In the Media: Courtyard by Marriott opens on TechWorks Campus

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “It’s a seven-year commitment coming full circle,” since the hotel project first was conceived in 2010. “First it was one step forward, two steps back; then two steps forward and one step back; then just full steam ahead. It’s been an interesting progression. And we couldn’t find a better developer or better hotel partners.”

Cary Darrah, President of TechWorks Campus and Vice President of Community Development for the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, is quoted in this article about the opening of Courtyard by Marriott Waterloo Cedar Falls.

Courtyard by Marriott opens in former Deere building, Pat Kinney, The Courier, December 19, 2017


In the Media: Dust comments on possible ALO runway closing

“Steve Dust, an airport board member and director of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, said he believes the airport property could be attractive to new employers.

‘We’ve got 300 acres around our airport that’s been planned for industrial development,” Dust said. ‘One of the things that’s becoming more and more important again is rail service.”

Potential Waterloo runway closure draws fire, Tim Jamison, The Courier, December 21, 2017

Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees