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What a Day!

By Steve Dust, President/CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

You have probably seen that commercial for an insurance company where, after a great day for a young woman receiving a new car and an equally dismal day for a man whose car tires have been stolen, both exclaim, “What a day!”

That’s how I felt on Tuesday, July 11 as spent four hours traveling to and from Des Moines to attend a three-hour meeting.

Usually, I wouldn’t attend a meeting outside the Cedar Valley on the day of an Alliance & Chamber board meeting, never mind our annual meeting. But I broke that rule for the Future Ready Iowa Alliance board meeting because it meets so infrequently, its planning work is nearing the end, and important implementation actions soon follow.

“What a day!” I repeated to myself the entire trip. Initially, I focused on missing hours of prep time for the Alliance & Chamber annual meeting. Then the people I encountered completely turned my day around.

  • Ben Allen, former University of Northern Iowa president and current interim Iowa State University president, was the first person I encountered. It was good to see an old friend and champion of the Cedar Valley. That was worth the trip, I thought.
  • Mike Ralston, President of Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and I walked in together. We always have a lot to compare notes on, but he emphasized that a recent ABI social media post attracted the largest number of views, interactions, and reposts his organization had experienced. The post featured the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presenting U.S. Rep Rod Blum with its Spirit of Enterprise Award; the Alliance & Chamber co-hosted the event at the TDS Automation/Doerfer plant in Waverly.
  • Hawkeye Community College President Linda Allen is one of eight on the board from various Cedar Valley sectors. As we were getting yet another cup of coffee, she talked to me about another potential partnership between Hawkeye and a local major employer, implemented at TechWorks Campus. She is pumped about the opportunity. (Now, all we need is money).
  • As the program began, Georgia Van Gundy, CEO of Iowa Business Council, gave a shout out to the Cedar Valley’s aggressive programming to retain, recruit, and prepare talent to fuel economic growth. Unexpected and appreciated. (IBC’s members are Iowa’s largest 20+/- employers, the three regent universities, and bankers’ association.)
  • While walking back to my table from the coffee urn, President Liang Chee Wee of Northeast Iowa Community College got up from his table to greet me with his characteristic smile. He told me, “I’m a fan of all you’re doing in the Cedar Valley!” That’s all of you: I just happened to be in the spot to catch the compliment.
  • It was good to see Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham simply because of health challenges she has been managing – with her typical “I’m not getting beat” approach, of course. But then she highly complimented the work of the Alliance & Chamber Economic Development team working on a particular project. I thanked her for taking extraordinary steps to ensure the opportunity to win.
  • Governor Kim Reynolds’ Deputy Chief of Staff Tim Albrecht is a recent graduate of ABI’s Leadership Iowa, the same class for which Leader Valley‘s Melissa Reade was a co-director. Tim thanked me for the time given Melissa to fulfill that role. She said, “Without Melissa there, it would not have been the amazing experience we had.” That is quite a compliment.
  • During the meeting, I sat with UNI Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Wohlpart. He has a goal to ensure the Future Ready Iowa initiatives to increase the percentage of Iowan’s with post-high school educational/career prep credentials are effectively implemented in the Cedar Valley economic area. Jim frequently moved our small-group discussion toward the need for local strategies to implement the statewide framework. His enthusiasm is contagious. I’m glad to have such a motivated leader making a difference for the workforce and employers of the Cedar Valley.

By the end of the meeting, I was saying, “What a day!” but for an entirely different reason than during my morning drive.

I had been reminded that the Cedar Valley generally, and our Alliance & Chamber especially, have many talented people effectively and proactively implementing meaningful projects to make our region even greater – and that effort recognized statewide.

Letter of Support for Convention Center, Hotel Agreement

In a letter to Mayor Quentin Hart and Waterloo Council Members, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust outlines several reasons why the city should approve an agreement with developer Leslie Hospitality Company. “This agreement is beneficial to the city’s taxpayers, and should be seen as enabling a significant benefit to the Cedar Valley economy and your city’s image,” Dust writes.

Waterloo City Council members approved selling the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center to Leslie Hospitality Company on July 17.

Read Dust’s letter of support.

Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric & Fireplaces: New Name, More Services

Dalton Plumbing, Heating & Cooling has added electrical services to its repertoire and changed its name to Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric & Fireplaces to reflect its new “one-stop-shop” approach to home comfort.

As of Jan. 18, the locally-owned firm, which specializes in servicing residential, as well as commercial, customers in a 30-mile radius around Waterloo-Cedar Falls, launched a comprehensive suite of electrical services.

Joe Boyle, who founded his own electrical services firm in Cedar Falls since 2001, has folded the company into Dalton to head up its new department.

Boyle, a Waterloo native, also comes to Dalton from Cedar Rapids-based Point Builders LLC, for which he was project superintendent. He also was with Halvorson Trane in Cedar Rapids, where he was a building automation systems technician and project foreman. Since 2001, Boyle has owned Liberty Electric, a commercial and residential electrical contractor business in Cedar Falls.

“Joe’s got a vast amount of experience, too, with automated systems; he’s been in the heating, venting and air-conditioning business; he ran projects for a contractor here in Cedar Falls, so he’s used to scheduling and managing jobs,” said Dave Krejchi, owner of Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric & Fireplaces.

Dalton’s expansion of services is a value-added proposition for customers, Krejchi said.

“This helps us take better care of our customers by keeping our electrical services in-house – to do a better job of getting the job done directly in a timely manner with our own staff,” Krejchi said.

Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric & Fireplaces, which is located in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, now can answer the three most basic needs of all residential and consumer customers, Krejchi said.

“The biggest thing is to be able to do maintenance on a whole home,” he said. “The three things that go wrong is plumbing, heating/cooling and electrical, and now we’ll be a full one-stop shop.”

Now, Dalton can examine all home systems to ensure each is running properly.

Boyle’s department will have full access to all other Dalton technicians.

“His staff is my staff – dispatchers, accounting, you name it,” Krejchi said. “We have a team of people here to help our customers. We’ll be doing installations and updating and, then, do service work.”

Commercial and residential customers will love Dalton’s expanded repertoire of services, Boyle said.

“Customer service is always what it’s about, and Dave already had a good, established company with an excellent reputation,” Boyle said. “We’ll supply any needs the customer has with this diversification.”

For years, Dalton has operated comprehensive apprenticeships in all its service areas, and the company will add an electrical apprenticeship program, Krejchi said.

The result is that customers can get quick, expert service, no matter what the issue may be.

“You may have a bad outlet or need to upgrade a lighting system, or you may want to switch to more energy-efficient lighting, run outdoor lighting, maybe upgrade your electrical service, or you may have 100-amp service and need 200-amp service,” Krejchi said. “Maybe you want to go from fuses to circuit breakers. Electrical is a whole other field, and we now can take care of that for you in-house.”

Dalton also offers emergency services 24 hours a day, as it has since Chuck Dalton started the firm in 1959.

Dalton’s services include a 100% satisfaction guarantee and financing options.

To reach Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric & Fireplaces, call (319) 266–3513. More information is at www.daltonphc.com.

UNI Announces New SBDC Director

The following information was submitted by our investor, the University of Northern Iowa.

The Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa is excited to announce that Amy Dutton has joined our team as the new Small Business Development Center Regional Director for the UNI center.

Originally from rural western New York state, Dutton moved to the Cedar Valley in 1996 and quickly settled in. Prior to becoming UNI’s SBDC Regional Director, Amy was the Community Outreach Manager for Lutheran Services in Iowa where she worked throughout Black Hawk and Grundy counties to promote LSI programs. Her experience also includes time at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, College Square Mall and Martin Brothers, as well as current board positions on the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau Board and Cedar Valley Society for Human Resources Management Board.

We are excited to have Amy bring her knowledge, skill and passion for small business and entrepreneurship to our region.  Amy knows what it takes to succeed in today’s marketplace and is eager to share her experiences in building strong, vibrant and sustainable businesses.

As the Regional SBDC Director, Amy will provide one-on-one business consulting and assist entrepreneurs and small business owners in building and strengthening their businesses.  She will also be working alongside regional and state business service providers to build a more vibrant and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Fayette, Grundy, Howard and Tama counties.

The SBDC services include startup assistance, business planning, accounting, human resources, marketing, sales, information on local and statewide resources, and much more.  More information on the SBDC program can be found at http://www.iowasbdc.org/regional-center/waterloo-cedar-falls/.

We are also pleased to announce that Dan Beenken has been promoted to the position of Director of Advance Iowa, the Center for Business Growth and Innovation’s holistic consulting program.  Dan, who previously served in the role of SBDC Director, is responsible for helping Iowa’s Second Stage businesses become more sustainable, profitable and prosperous.

You can contact Amy at amy.dutton@uni.edu or by phone at (3189) 273-4328.  Feel free to share her contact information with any and all small business clients you think would benefit from her services.

Steve Dust receives ABI’s Advocacy in Action Award

The Alliance & Chamber congratulates Steve Dust on being honored with the 2016 Advocacy in Action Award by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry is pleased to present its 2016 Advocacy in Action award to Steve Dust for his work to advance ABI’s public policy agenda. The award was presented during the Advanced Manufacturing Conference on Oct. 4.

Dust is the president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. Dust has been a chief advocate and architect of the new Cedar Valley TechWorks campus, a 30-acre advanced manufacturing, research and development, innovation, education, commercial and manufacturing center in downtown Waterloo.

The Advocacy in Action award was created in 2014 to recognize ABI members’ commitment to ABI advocacy efforts.

Dust serves on the ABI Board of Directors and has been a vocal advocate for Iowa business issues. He frequently meets with area legislators and members of Iowa’s congressional delegation about issues important to companies in the Cedar Valley. In addition to his leadership at the Alliance, he takes part in ABI’s public policy committee process, hosts ABI members at his facility, attends ABI’s biennial Washington D.C. fly-in and many other ABI public policy events. He is a platinum level contributor to ABI’s Iowa Industry PAC.

“Steve Dust is the epitome of an advocate,” ABI President Mike Ralston said. “He tirelessly represents the greater Cedar Valley, his investors and all Iowa businesses to make Iowa a better place to live and work. We are grateful for Steve’s leadership and appreciate his collaboration with ABI.”

Dust ABI award 2016

GREATER CEDAR VALLEY ALLIANCE & CHAMBER TO HOLD FORUM ON WORKFORCE ISSUES

The Alliance & Chamber will host a forum to engage area business and institutions to address talent and workforce challenges in the Cedar Valley.  Addressing Workforce: Beyond the Numbers is for employers, educators, and workforce partners to be held Thursday, September 29th from 7:30 -11:30am at the National Cattle Congress Pavilion, Waterloo.

Recent data compiled by the Alliance & Chamber projects that businesses in the Cedar Valley will need 12,000 additional workers in the next 10 years while, at the same time, the working-age population is expected to decrease.

During the forum, business leaders from a cross-section of industries will facilitate three separate discussion tracks. Human resource professionals, business managers from all industries, education leaders, and service providers who support business with workforce needs are encouraged to participate in the most relevant discussion track.

The three tracks include:

  1. Labor Force Participation (utilizing our existing population)
  2. Training & Education (training the future workforce)
  3. Talent Attraction & Retention (attracting new & retaining existing workforce)

The interactive format will provide opportunities for new connections, partnerships, peer-to-peer learning and a deeper understanding of how to collaborate in addressing our workforce needs for today and the future.

A light breakfast will be served at 7:30am.  The event is free. Registration is requested through the Alliance & Chamber website www.cedarvalleyalliance.com by September 16.

For more information on this event and the Talent Solutions initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber contact Danny Laudick by calling 319-232-1156 or by email to dlaudick@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

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Manpower Receive 2016 Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Award

Cedar Valley Manpower team celebrate their accomplishments.

Cedar Valley Manpower team celebrate their accomplishments.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016.

Manpower creates customized programs to recruit and develop a workforce reflective of the Cedar Valley through effective partnerships with local agencies.

Access2Ability partnership with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) provides job opportunities for those with a disability.

Collaboration with Iowa Workforce Development is putting formerly incarcerated candidates to work.  Department of Correction facilities have placed reformed job seekers from the Work Release program into jobs.

Manpower staff serves on the Refugee Resource committee led by Catholic Charities. The goal is to help integrate refugees from Myanmar into the Cedar Valley.  The Manpower team developed job opportunities and overcame language barriers by creating work teams of 3-4 refugees, with one member serving as translator.

Manpower provides job preparation advice to students at Waterloo West High and college students through Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s Leadership Iowa University program.

Regional Director Kathy Joblinski is an active member of the Alliance & Chamber’s Chamber Council, its Diversity & Inclusion Partnership, and she is also a member of the Chamber Council’s Workforce Committee.

View the video produced by Pyke Studios here.

View a video of the entire event, including acceptance speeches, produced by Cedar Falls Cable is here.

 

 

HowFactory Receives 2016 Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Harold Brock Innovation Award

Co-founder Trace Steffan accepts the Harold Brock Innovation Award.

Co-founder Trace Steffan accepts the Harold Brock Innovation Award.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016. Howfactory received the Harold Brock Innovation Award.

HowFactory, a Cedar Valley startup business has developed software to better create, manage, and distribute knowledge documents, standard operating procedures, training, and other key documents for industrial manufacturing and other companies. The idea co-founder Trace Steffan started toying with in his home office in 2012 has become one of the fastest growing and most acclaimed tech startups in Iowa.

After developing their business model at the Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2014, HowFactory received a $50,000 investment from Built by IowaHowFactory was the first Iowa company to be selected to the national Tech Crunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield.  In 2015, HowFactory swept the Dream Big Grow Here awards at Entrefest , then was named the Silicon Prairie News’ New Startup of the Year.

HowFactory is a vital member of the Cedar Valley startup ecosystem. HowFactory is a founding member of Millrace, the Cedar Valley’s first subscription based tech co-working space. The firm supports and routinely participates in One Million Cups, Startup Weekend, and a host of other initiatives to nurture innovation in the Cedar Valley.

View the video here.

Jim & Cecelia Mudd Honored with 2016 Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Legacy Award

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016.  Jim and Cecelia Mudd received the Legacy Award.

“Servant Leaders” Jim and Cecelia Mudd have a true American success story. The couple has built a strong business from the ground up while remaining true to their values. The Mudds believe in Friends, Family, and Faith made visible through their generous contribution of time, money, and wisdom to countless charitable organizations, especially those serving the underprivileged throughout the Cedar Valley and beyond.

Cecelia started her career as an airline flight attendant, and later worked alongside Jim in radio and at Mudd Advertising. She has been an active volunteer and supporter of the Sartori Festival of Trees, EPI, PEO, Catholic Daughters, and the American Heart Association Go Red Luncheon. Cecelia taught their children the value of hard work through helping with their paper routes and de-tasseling corn.

Jim is an unabashed promoter of free enterprise, personal responsibility, and civic involvement.

A graduate of Brescia University, Jim studied broadcasting at Northwestern University, spending 21 years in radio before starting Jim Mudd and Associates in the basement of their home in 1981. Today Mudd Advertising is a global marketing firm, serving over 3,500 clients primarily in the automotive industry. Clients also include Bridgestone Tires as well as 50 John Deere retailers.  Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Mudd employs 165 with offices around the country.

Jim maintains a personal friendship with Ken Blanchard and served on the board of Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus, and incorporates his Gung Ho principles into daily business culture and practice at Mudd Advertising.

Jim has served on the Western Home board of directors, as co-chair of the Cedar Falls Library Capital Campaign, United Way Annual Campaign and others. He is currently a member of the University of Northern Iowa Foundation board. Together the Mudds support 80 different Cedar Valley organizations, including St. Patrick Church, UNI and countless others.

View the Video here.

 

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – The VGM Group

 

CEO Mike Mallaro accepts the Business of the Year Award.

CEO Mike Mallaro accepts the Business of the Year Award.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016. The VGM Group received the Business of the Year Award for companies with 51+ employees.  PDCM Insurance sponsors this award.

View the presentation video about the VGM Group, produced by Pyke Studios,  here.

With 25 years of success, The VGM Group includes more than 20 business units. The most recent $20m expansion adds 70,000 square feet of new offices to the San Marnan Ave. corporate campus and will be home to 300 employees.  The $2m renovation of the Alexandra Drive location accommodates growth of new tech based jobs.

VGM is a 100% owned by its 650+ employees through Employee Stock Ownership Plan “ESOP”, keeping wealth in the Cedar Valley and creating an employee focused culture and unique employment brand. VGM is one of Iowa’s 2015 Top Workplace in the Large Company category selected through an independent survey by Workplace Dynamics.

VGM’s annual Heartland Conference contributed an economic benefit of $1.1 million in the Cedar Valley in 2015 alone.

To help develop, strengthen, and retain talent in the company and the Cedar Valley, VGM participates in Iowa’s STEM Student Internship Program and has developed an internal professional development program for emerging leaders with in their company.

 

View a video of the entire event, including acceptance speeches, produced by Cedar Falls Cable is here.

 

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