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Tag Archives: Economic Development

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

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

5 on Friday: Fuel for Thought December 8, 2017

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

Remember 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: Chicago Fed on the Midwest Economy

The most recent Midwest Economy Index, from the Chicago Federal Reserve, measures nonfarm business activity in the Fed District’s multi-state area of the Upper Midwest.

Midwest Economy Index (MEI), Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, November 30, 2017

TWO: What NAFTA Means to Iowa

A still-hot topic is whether the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will survive, and, if so, in what form. This is a simple infographic that shows what NAFTA means to states. Spoiler alert: nearly half of all exports are headed for NAFTA nations. Tariffs would be damaging to our manufacturers and producers. Iowa is No. 7.

Which States Would Be Hit Hardest by Withdrawing from NAFTA?, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, November 17, 2017

THREE: The Reconciliation on the Federal Tax Reduction Bill

There’s a lot of discussion now about what a tax reform/reduction should look like. Each of us must decide our view on business tax, and then again how it impacts us at home. This is a good article about what the reconciliation process will look like as the Senate and House meet to smooth differences to the final bill.

Tax Package Next Steps: Reconciling Differences, Wells Fargo Economics, December 4, 2017

Four and Five: What Does A Blockchain Do? 

The final two links of the day are about something called blockchain, a “distributed electronic ledger that uses software algorithms to record transactions with reliability and anonymity.” We see it starting in transactions of various kinds that require collaboration among parties, whether distance is an issue or not. I’ve been learning about it as a part of our emphasis on technology in our Greater Cedar Valley 2021 business development plan. Two of the better items I’ve read include the following. The IBM article is a detailed primer.

FOUR: Strategist’s Guide to Blockchain, John Plansky, Tim O’Donnell, and Kimberly Richards, Strategy+Business, January 11, 2016

FIVE: Blockchain for Dummies, Manav Gupta, IBM Limited Edition, 2017

In the Media: Waterloo renews contract to fund Alliance & Chamber

The City of Waterloo approved a new contract with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber: $28,500 plus $56,500 in incentive payments.

“Lisa Skubal, GCVAC vice president of economic development, said those efforts landed $37 million in projects and 246 new jobs in the first six months of the fiscal year, primarily from expansions at Crystal Distribution Services and Tyson Fresh Meats…

Skubal said the city’s internal economic development staff is ‘transaction oriented’ and willing to work with prospects to get deals done. The challenge was Waterloo’s high property tax rate.

Alliance and Chamber CEO Steve Dust said the city is generally able to cover the property tax discrepancy through additional incentives to businesses.

‘You burn through incentives overcoming the property tax issue,’ he said.

Dust said one of the biggest issues on the horizon involves talent development, which is why the GCVAC is working on programs to recruit and train the work force businesses need to thrive locally.”

Waterloo renews GVCA contract, Tim Jamison, The Courier, November 28, 2017


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


Remember: 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: Standard Distribution Announces Next Project

I can never say “thank you” often enough to the risk-taking capitalists in the Cedar Valley who see a need and fill it with a product or service. This week, I pass along the announcement of another new industrial sector investment by Standard Distribution. Thank you.

Standard Distribution planning large expansion at airport, Tim Jamison, The Courier, November 18, 2017

TWO: The Geopolitics of Thanksgiving

You thought it was about making it through a very bad year and Europeans building alliances with the indigenous people of North America. You were kind of right. This is a lengthy, but fascinating look at the global context in which that first Thanksgiving took place. It’s an eye-opening history lesson, courtesy of Stratfor.

Thanksgiving and Puritan Geopolitics in the Americas, Starfor, November 24, 2017

THREE: Classroom Tech Advances

Here’s a great look at how technology startups are impacting education. So, if the Cedar Valley has the University of Northern Iowa — the highly ranked institution that teaches to be teachers — how do we capture economic development value from this trend?

A Silicon Valley startup is quietly taking over U.S. classrooms, Kia Kokalitcheva , Axios, November 22, 2017

FOUR: Your 2018 Reading List?

If you’re looking for books to read during holiday travel or just to stock up for 2018, here’s what the Gates-Bezos-Buffets of the world are reading.

9 Recommended Books That Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett Think You Should Read, Marcel Schwantes

FIVE: Another Good News Source

Here’s another media source that I’ve included in my bundle, and I thought I’d refer it to you.


5 on Friday: Fuel for Thought, November 17, 2017

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


Remember: 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: Logistics Disruptors

Logistics is a big business in the Cedar Valley. Companies move materials in and products out to fulfill the needs of businesses and consumers — all over the globe. Just last night, Tesla unveiled an electric/battery-powered semi-transport. The PDF attached is a good, high-level research summary on the disruptors in the logistics space. These are things the Cedar Valley must pay attention to, from the perspective of current and future economic activity, and tax base for local government.

[PDF] THE TOP 5 DISRUPTIVE Trends Shaping Transportation and Logistics.September 2017, The Business Insider Research Team, September 2017

TWO: Will Iowa Grads Stay?

Here’s an overview of how Iowa is doing when it comes to keeping our grads at home. Use the Data Tool provided on this page to dig deeper into your industry.

Iowa College Student Retention, Iowa Workforce Development, 2017 Report

THREE: Economic Inclusion

This an excellent and well-documented, but lengthy, report from Brookings on how economic inclusion across sectors benefits the firm and the worker, as well as the overall regional economy.

A key point early in the report: One reason for this is that faster metro-level growth creates the tight labor markets that make broad-based wage gains more likely. One study found that a 10 percent increase in metropolitan employment raises average real earnings per person by around 4 percent. These gains are greater in percentage terms for African-Americans, lower-income individuals, and workers with less education.

Opportunity for growth: How reducing barriers to economic inclusion can benefit workers, firms, and local economies, Joseph Parilla, Brookings Institution, Thursday, September 28, 2017

FOUR: State of New Economy Index

Although this particular ranking only puts Iowa in the middle of the pack of states, you should be pleased with the progress made at the state level to accommodate the New Economy. This progress isn’t necessarily picked up in the Index.

The Index measures new economy activity, regardless of the particular focus of a regional or state economy. However, a defining trend of this era is the degree to which all have become more reliant on innovation as new technologies have become critical drivers of productivity and competitiveness.

The publisher of the Index, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), is one of the most credible and knowledgeable voices in tech and innovation policy and practice.

The Index measures the degree to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, IT-driven, and innovation-based. The report then discusses overarching strategic issues facing states, examines the role of large and small businesses in driving growth, and finally discusses a number of innovative models around the nation to spur workforce training and technology commercialization.

This message aligns very nicely with the second of three goals for our Greater Cedar Valley 2021 economic development initiative: Target Technology for Growth, recognizing that it’s the best allocation of our scarce talent resource, moving us farther, faster in creating wealth and economic vitality in the Cedar Valley.

The 2017 State New Economy Index: Benchmarking Economic Transformation in the States, Robert D. Atkinson and J. John Wu, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, November 2017

FIVE: Irvine CA’s proposal to Amazon

I’ve become more curious about Irvine, California because our youngest son, Andrew, and his spouse, Emily, moved there this week. (She’s a data scientist with a United Healthcare-related firm.) Irvine has been known as the safest city in the nation since the early 1990’s.

Irvine is the home and playpen for billionaire Donald Bren, the wealthiest real estate developer in the nation. Starting as Irvine Ranch, then becoming The Irvine Company, it owns about 20 percent of Orange County. Recently, Bren proposed to Jeff Bezos that Irvine become the location of the new, second Amazon headquarters. Bren offers to bankroll the entire $5 billion project, building initial building space available immediately then constructing new space as necessary. The expected 50,000 employees would fit well in this city that is near, but not adjacent to, Los Angeles, where the mean income level is already above that anticipated for Amazon’s new employees (over $100,000).

The richest real estate developer in the US wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offering to pay for the insanely sought-after HQ2, by Tanza Loudenback. Business Insider, Oct. 19, 2017

In the Media: Cutting historic preservation tax credits

“There are a lot of buildings that would continue to sit empty or would have been demolished by now had that tax credit not been available to make the project economically sound,” said Steve Dust, president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber. “And that’s repeated all over Iowa.”

Steve Dust is quoted in an article by Erin Murphy, State house reporter for The Courier/Lee Enterprises, about Iowa projects helped by federal historic preservation tax credits and the possible effect on Iowa projects if Congress’ tax reform proposal is approved.

Cutting historic tax credits could cripple economic development, officials warn, Erin Murphy, The Courier, November 13, 2017

5 on Friday: Fuel for Thought

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

image Fuel for thought graphic What's Steve Dust Reading this Week? October 20, 2017

John Deere Waterloo TV ad

John Deere has begun showing a terrific 30-second ad on TV in the Cedar Valley area. You have to watch it. Send it along to your colleagues and friends.

Building the best large tractors :30 TV spot

And here’s a nearly eight-minute version

Building the best large tractors

When Should The Firm Adopt Additive Manufacturing

The University of Northern Iowa’s amazing Additive Manufacturing Center and Design Lab in our TechWorks Tech 1 building continues to expand in size, industrial production scale equipment, and Iowa clients served. We know that additive manufacturing in the industrial setting will be an important growth sector for the Cedar Valley, in terms of our firms’ investment in the technology, as well as the opportunity to recruit the makers of the equipment. I am trying to learn more about how the firm makes that investment decision, as well as be better informed about the technology. Here’s a good article with a process and opinion on how the evaluation should be structured.

Courtesy of Supply Chain Management Review.

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Additive Manufacturing? André Kieviet and Suraj M. Alexander, Supply Chain Management Review, October 16, 2017

Zappos Hsieh on Business Organization

Zappos’ top guy has been famous for risks and successes in e-commerce and flaming failures. Still, he has more than1,500 employees in one of the attention-grabbing e-commerce firms. And he’s a damned good organizational thinker. Here’s an interview he did with the McKinsey firm to make sense out of his “holocracy” approach to organizational management. It is a good, and thought-provoking read.

Safe enough to try: An interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, McKinsey Quarterly, October 2017

China Strategy

This week, China commenced a session of its National Congress of the Communist Party. This Congress is held every five years. George Friedman, one of the best, objective observers of global geo-political/economic issues, republished a report with his analysis of the “grand strategy” employed by China. This nation that has seen extraordinary economic activity and growth, according to Friedman, may be operating in a different strategic framework than we might think.

In China, a Strategy Born of Weakness, Geopolitical Futures, October 18, 2017

Surviving the Merger

We haven’t merged again, but many of your firms are acquiring new operations or creating strategic partnerships of various kinds. No matter how small, these moves require thoughtful communications to all involved to ease anxieties about the post-agreement workplace. This is a good Harvard Business Review article on the topic that would be a good tool for individuals engaged in your growth program.

Surviving M&A: How to thrive amid the turmoil, Harvard Business Review, by Mitchell Lee Marks, Philip Mirvis, and Ron Ashkenas, March-April 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