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Tag Archives: Cedar Falls Utilities

TechWorks Campus Propels High-Speed Business Development with Startup Weekend Event

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) – TechWorks Campus, 360 Westfield Ave., Waterloo, will host Startup Weekend Cedar Valley November 20 -22, 2015. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event, during which groups of software developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to create a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening.

Launch Party Kick-Off

The event will kick-off with the Startup Weekend Launch Party, Friday evening at 5:00pm. The Launch Party is an opportunity for the participants of Startup Weekend to network with each other and established Cedar Valley business leaders. The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and Far Reach are launch party sponsors. Alliance & Chamber investors and the Cedar Valley business community are invited to attend.

There is no cost for the launch event, but registration is needed. Register by calling the Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156 or on-line at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com/calendar-of-events.php.

Following the launch event, entrepreneurs will give a one-minute pitch of their business idea. Attendees will vote to decide which ideas will be developed over the next two days.

Beginning at 7:00am Saturday, teams will form around each idea. Teams will go through the customer discovery process, prototyping and testing their business model. Local mentors will come in throughout the event to coach teams and provide expertise. Meals will be provided throughout the work day and end with an after party at 10:30pm. Teams will return on Sunday morning to finalize plans and prepare presentations. That evening, a panel of judges will award prizes to the most viable business.

Local Organizers

Startup Weekend Cedar Valley is being organized by a core group of young Cedar Valley entrepreneurs: Cody Caraway, Michael Caraway, Patrick Luensmann, Keevin O’Rourke, Valyn Reinig, and Bart Schmitz. Organizers believe the event has the opportunity to bring individuals who normally wouldn’t consider themselves entrepreneurs into the growing Cedar Valley startup ecosystem. Gold Sponsors for the event include the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, Scientific Games Interactive, and Cedar Falls Utilities. Veridian Credit Union and VGM Forbin are Silver Sponsors. The Center for Business, Growth, and Innovation and the Creative Life Research Center of the University of Northern Iowa, Visual Logic, and Martin Brothers are Bronze Sponsors.

“The average attendee will be exposed to what it’s like to be in a startup, the demands it brings, and also the correct way to create a business model,” says Michael Caraway, “This all translates into a more innovative, lean mindset that individuals can take back to their employers. Who knows, some may even take the leap to start their own business.”

Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Powered by Mediacom

Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions from Mediacom Business will provide 5 gigabit broadband to the TechWorks Campus for Startup Weekend Cedar Valley expanding the scope of potential business concepts and allowing teams to develop high bandwidth applications without limitation.

Why the TechWorks Campus

“The Techworks Campus is the historic location for industrial innovation in the Cedar Valley and a hub for Iowa’s latest production and design technologies,” says Steve Dust CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and President of the TechWorks Campus. “TechWork’s Industrial Technology Center is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to launch the next great Cedar Valley success stories.”

This is the second year for Startup Weekend in the Cedar Valley. To learn more about Startup Weekend Cedar Valley, or to register, go to www.swcv.co or message Michael Caraway by email, mike@monday-creations.com.

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Startup Weekend Cedar Valley

Startup Weekend Cedar Valley

 

 

 

 

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Business Education Series

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is hosting three seminars for business professionals during the month of May. The Business Education Series is a local link to information on timely issues that influence the business bottom line. May seminars will focus on simple office changes that save money and improve the work environment, data security to mitigate exposure, and employee wellness. These seminars will give attendees instant access to “do it now” business growth tools.  Each program will feature experts and a question and answer period.

The May 13 session “Solutions That Improve Your Business Environment Inside & Out” will be presented by Pete Olsen, Energy Services Manager at Cedar Falls Utilities, Dan Channer, Partner at StruXture Architects. The focus will be on energy efficiency, waste reduction, and water conservation. Additionally, Ellen Woods, Director of Sales at Integrated Interior Solutions Group Kirk Gross Company, will address creating an environment and culture in which employees can thrive.

The May 20 session on “Data Security” will be presented by Chris Fereday, President of PDCM Insurance, and Dave Wyant, Account Manager of Sales at Networking Solutions. They will present information to help area business leaders understand how to navigate the complexity of privacy/cyber liability exposure and provide valuable insight about how to mitigate exposures.

On May 27 the topic will be “Business Sense of Wellness.” Liz DeJoode, Wellness Consultant at PDCM Insurance, will speak on their approach to help employers win the battles against increasing healthcare costs. Additionally, learn from UnityPoint/Allen Hospital, Veridian Credit Union and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare on how they implement wellness programs on site.

Each seminar will take place at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in downtown Waterloo, IA, from 7:30-9:00 AM.  The cost is $25 per seminar for Alliance & Chamber investors and $45 per seminar for non-investors and includes breakfast. Please register one week in advance of each seminar by calling (319) 232-1156 or email bwubenna@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

The premier sponsor is PDCM Insurance and the gold sponsors are Around the Corner Productions and First National Bank.

The mission of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is to increase economic vitality and wealth by leading collaborative economic and community development. The Business Education Series is one of many initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber designed to sustain and strengthen businesses and organizations in the Cedar Valley Region of Iowa. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling Steve Dust, CEO at (319) 232-1156.

 

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President Barack Obama Hails Cedar Falls as US Leading Broadband City

Last week, President Barack Obama visited the Cedar Valley to highlight the City of Cedar Falls and Cedar Falls Utilities(CFU) as a leader in providing broadband service to the community.  The national and international media coverage of the President has shown a spotlight on the Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley.  The Alliance & Chamber congratulates the city and CFU for this pioneering work. We also recognize the efforts of other providers to bring high speed service to the entire Cedar Valley. Read the recent blog post by CFU General Manager Jim Krieg.

President Barack Obama’s visit last week was a proud and memorable day for Cedar Falls, and most certainly for CFU. It was an honor to extend Cedar Falls’ hospitality to our President, and to be held up as an example of community broadband success.

Because of the President’s visit, people from all over the place are asking about the secret sauce. What is it that makes community broadband successful in Cedar Falls?

The answer is in the name: community. In 1994, no provider offered high speed internet service in Cedar Falls, and the phone and cable companies then serving the town had no plans to upgrade their networks any time soon. Unwilling to wait, citizens led the charge to pass a referendum that founded our community broadband service and tasked CFU with designing, building and running it.

It was a bold move and not without risk. On Wednesday the President called it visionary and ahead of its time. The referendum ballot included a $3 million bond to fund construction costs. That bond was repaid over time as our business grew.

In fact, the business boomed. The same people who voted to form CFU’s Communications Utility made it a smashing success by signing up as customers. Because of that, community broadband in Cedar Falls is fully self-supporting as a fee-for-service business.

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Public Leaders Host 7 Habits Session in Step Toward Collaborative Service Cedar Valley

The Alliance & Chamber presented a 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE ® Local Government Informational Session On Thursday, February 13. The session was Hosted by Mayor Crews, Mayor Clark, and Board of Supervisors Chair White at the Cedar Falls Utilities headquarters.

The hosts and other public leaders initiated the informational session to take the next step in collaboration to better serve Cedar Valley residents. It also served as an opportunity to learn how the principles that are positively impacting our schools and businesses across the area can also be applied to the public’s service.

Covey facilitator Gary McGuey along with Leader Valley Program Directory Melissa Reade gave brief presentations about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Leader in Me, ways in which the utilization of The 7 Habits might enhance personal effectiveness, and encouraged the group to consider how these tools can assist our local governments to collaborate even more in service to Cedar Valley residents.

Approximately 50 representatives from the area governments and agencies were in attendance.

Cedar Falls Schools Making the World Their Classroom

Cedar Falls Schools Making the World Their Classroom

CEDAR FALLS, IA  The countdown is on for launching a project to expand classroom learning across town and across the globe for K-12 students at the Cedar Falls Community Schools.

Beginning in January, the schools’ digital learning initiative will put web-connected notebook computers in the hands of every high school student, opening up access to learning tools and experiences outside the classroom walls. For grades 3-6, one notebook will be available for every two students, and pre-K through grade 2 students will share iPads on a three-to-one basis. Notebooks will be distributed to all  junior high students at the beginning of the 2014 fall semester.

Plans to take digital learning tools to the next level as a “one-to-one” school have been in the works for about two years. Cedar Falls teachers, administrators, technical staff, school board members and parents have all been part of the planning effort through the District Technology Committee.

“Truly, the most important thing is that we aren’t doing this for the sake of having more technology in the classroom,” said Dr. Andy Pattee, Superintendent of Schools. “We are undertaking this very large initiative to help students learn and showcase their learning at greater levels, by providing much more access to tools for that than we’ve had in the past.”

“A lot of work by many, many people has been done over the past couple of years to be sure that we’re doing this the right way, focused on student learning and student achievement, with all the professional development behind it for our staff to insure that it’s implemented with fidelity in the classroom,” Pattee said.

At each school building, a team of teachers is offering peer training to help everyone get familiar with the new tools so they can be used effectively for better student outcomes.

The school’s technology staff have worked over the past three years to improve the district’s internal network and beef up wireless access points at every building to get ready for increased web traffic during the school day.

 

“Up to now, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes,” said district Information and Technology Services Supervisor Shane Paige. “In January we’ll start rolling out Chromebooks for every student at the high school, and within 10 months our integration will be complete at every building throughout the district.”

Paige explained that the Chromebook laptops the District is deploying are easily interchangeable between students. That’s because software applications and document storage are “in the cloud” and tied to the student’s unique user identity, rather than on the hardware.

A key piece of preparation is happening this week, as the Cedar Falls School District switches its primary internet connection to gigabit service from Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU).

“Early in the planning, we knew that if we were going to get the benefits of a cloud-based system, we had to have a rock-solid internet connection,” Paige said. “That’s really why we’re making the move to CFU, for the reliability and the local support that we can call on if we need it.”

The school system operates its wide area network over fiber optic cable that CFU installed several years ago at no cost to the district. The schools will maintain a back-up internet connection through the Iowa Communications Network, or ICN.

“Serving the schools in this way is a perfect example of why we upgraded our entire system to fiber-to-the-premises,” said CFU Network Manager Rob Houlihan. “It’s meant to be a community asset that supports innovation in business, in education and in local government in Cedar Falls.”

Earlier this year CFU completed a city-wide upgrade of its communications network, bringing a fiber optic connection to every home and business in Cedar Falls. In May, CFU added service plans at one gigabit per second to its full range of internet products for home and business users.

How will connecting students to the world change learning outcomes?

“Really the possibilities are endless when you focus on student learning and enable that with technology,” says Pattee. “The world is shrinking, and we all know that. Now, with technology we can open it up for collaboration that happens across town or across the world, and give students a broader range of classroom learning experiences that can happen instantaneously and seamlessly. That’s exciting for our teachers and our students.”

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CEDAR FALLS IS IOWA’S FIRST GIGABIT CITY

“CFU now offers  1-Gig service to every home and every business in the city making Cedar Falls Iowa’s first  ‘Gigabit City.’ There are fewer than 50, 1-Gig cities in the nation. Of those that claim 1-Gig service, most only deliver it to a small area of the city or a certain class of customer. CFU offers true, city wide, 1-Gig to everyone.

The Cedar Valley is well on its way to becoming Gigabit Valley! With CFU’s product in place, undoubtedly 1-Gig will soon be offered by providers in Waterloo and other Cedar Valley cities. The Cedar Valley is the place for tech led industry, business and services to grow bigger and stronger. We have the fiber to prove it!”  – Steve Dust, CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.

More information can be found at www.CFU.net

The following is CFU’s May 28th announcement

CFU launches state’s fastest internet service

CEDAR FALLS IS IOWA’S FIRST GIGABIT CITY

CEDAR FALLS, IA Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) launches internet service at 1 gigabit per second (GBPS) today, making Cedar Falls the first and only Iowa community on the nation’s short list of gigabit cities.

CFU’s gigabit service is available now at any Cedar Falls business or home. The service is delivered through CFU’s city-wide fiber optic network, completed earlier this year. About 400 rural Cedar Falls properties also have access to the service.

“We can turn up a customer’s gigabit service on the same day they ask for it, if not the same hour,” said CFU General Manager Jim Krieg. “The facilities are already in place, so we can activate the service remotely from our network operations center.”

Cedar Falls Community Services Manager Robert Seymour says the “gigabit city” label will put Cedar Falls on the map for a broader list of business prospects.

“This is a great tool for promoting Cedar Falls as a place to locate or expand a business,” says Seymour. “It’s an important part of the complete infrastructure package we bring to the table, and it means we can compete with the best broadband communities anywhere in the country.”

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CFU’s high-speed internet service dates back to 1996, years before similar service became available in most of Iowa. “Back then, a 10 megabit connection easily met the needs of a high-demand business user,” Krieg recalls. “The service we’re launching today is 100 times as fast.”

“One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is the transformation of broadband access from an innovation back in the ‘90s, to a convenience that people want, to an essential service for businesses and families,” Krieg said. “Today customers are looking for more than speed. They demand the highest reliability for their broadband connections, just as they do for electric or water or gas service.”

To meet that need, CFU designed its city-wide network and external internet connections with diverse fiber paths and back-up capacity. “Our network is set up to maintain service to customers even when something breaks,” says Network Manager Rob Houlihan. “Say there’s a fiber cut between here and Chicago that takes one of our upstream providers out of service. Our other transport paths and bandwidth sources handle the traffic, without disruption for the customers.”

Krieg notes that CFU serves more than 600 businesses and 11,000 home internet customers today, and most will not immediately upgrade to gigabit service. “With this launch, we’re upgrading our top business tier customers from 200 MBPS to gigabit service at the same price,” he said.

Bandwidth demand from CFU’s internet customers has grown rapidly, and more than doubled in 2012. “Experience shows that when we deliver more bandwidth, customers find innovative ways to use it,” Krieg says. “We expect demand for gigabit service to start small, but grow fast.”

CFU continues to offer a range of home and business internet plans, starting at $30/month. Speeds and pricing for all of CFU’s broadband services are online at www.cfu.net/internet.

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Cedar Falls Utilities provides broadband communications, electricity, water and natural gas services to homes and businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, population 39,000. The Utilities are owned by the City of Cedar Falls and operated for public benefit under the governance of a citizen Board of Trustees. The Municipal Communications Utility was formed in 1994 by a citizen referendum, and launched internet and television services in January, 1996.

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Media resources: Visit CFU’s online newsroom for video news release, broadcast quality video clips, still images, logos and sidebar copy.

About CFU

Cedar Falls Utilities provides internet, electricity, water, natural gas and cable television services to homes and businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, population 39,000. Electric and broadband services are also provided to an 85-square-mile area of rural Cedar Falls. The rural service area is located mostly in Black Hawk County, Iowa, with limited overlap to adjacent Grundy and Butler Counties.

Internet and video services are provided through the Municipal Communications Utility, founded by citizen referendum in 1994. In 1996 the Utility was among nation’s first providers of high speed internet service. In 2013, CFU completed a three-year network upgrade, bringing a fiber optic connection to every Cedar Falls home and business.

CFU’s combination of reliable and economical broadband, electricity, natural gas and water services gives growing and relocating companies a single source for essential services that are immediately available and ready for business.

CFU’s business units are the Cedar Falls Municipal Communications, Electric, Gas and Water Utilities. All four entities are owned by the City of Cedar Falls and operated for public benefit under the governance of a citizen Board of Trustees

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