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Tag Archives: government

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 HOST LEGISLATIVE FORUM FOR INVESTORS

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will host an Investor Legislative Forum to gain input from investors on legislative issues of importance to Cedar Valley businesses.  The Investor Legislative Forum will be held on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 8:00am to 9:00am at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo.  State level issues requiring action in the upcoming session will be presented at the session by Alliance & Chamber.

Prior to the start of each Iowa legislative session the Alliance & Chamber establishes a legislative agenda.  The Cedar Valley Legislative Agenda for Economic Progress contains actions that will improve the Cedar Valley business climate and quality of life, and address specific issues for business.  Throughout the year, the Alliance & Chamber tracks and brings to the attention of its investors’ issues that have an impact on their bottom line. Investors in the Alliance & Chamber are invited and encouraged to help shape the Agenda by participating in the Investor Legislative Forum.

There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated by contacting Sandi Sommerfelt at 319 -232-1156 or ssommerfelt@cedarvalleyalliance.com. The Alliance & Chamber offers this opportunity exclusively to its 800 investor businesses & organizations and community partners. Registration deadline is September 13, 2016.

The Alliance & Chamber provides One Voice for Cedar Valley businesses and institutions by advocating for economic growth policies and business climate improvement at the local, state and federal levels.  For more information on advocacy initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber, contact Steve Dust at 319-232-1156 or sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

Cedar Falls Mayoral Candidate Forum Recap

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber held a Cedar Falls Mayoral Candidates Forum on Friday, October 23st at the Cedar Falls Tourism Visitors Center to give investor businesses the opportunity to understand each candidate’s position on issues that affect the economy including business climate, workforce, and quality of life.

Specific topics raised included: University Avenue, the downtown waste water treatment facility, the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) as an economic development tool, a part-time vs. full-time mayor, and more.

“The Alliance & Chamber serves as the one voice for business in the region. We advocate for the concerns of business at the local, state, and national level. We provide opportunities for education on issues, interaction with officials, and encourage our investors to participate in the process,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber.

All three candidates participated in the Cedar Falls Forum including: businessman Jim Brown, incumbent Mayor Jon Crews, and retired railroad management employee Dave Halterman.

Each of the mayoral candidates made a brief opening statement. Moderator Steve Firman, Director of Alliance & Chamber Government Relations, then directed questions from the audience to the candidates.

In his opening statement Jim Brown shared his three-point platform of business development, good communication, and strong leadership. He pointed to his success launching a technology startup and in talent recruitment for John Deere as valuable experience that will help him market the city to new business and talent. Brown noted that the University Avenue project will likely move forward as approved by the current council.

Jon Crews bases his campaign on ‘facts and real numbers.’ He points to reduced residential and industrial tax rates, and quality of life and amenities as hallmarks of his tenure as mayor. Crews believes the use of roundabouts on University Avenue will reduce accidents and save lives.

Dave Halterman was a critic of the University Avenue reconstruction plan and outlined seven ways he believes the project could be handled more efficiently. He sees University Avenue as the ‘present and future of tourism and business development in Cedar Falls.” He believes the opportunity to increase the tax base is ‘bleak.’

Brown did not comment on the issue of the downtown location of the waste water plant. Crews commended the water treatment department for their efforts to mitigate the odor issue and noted that new development has continued despite the location of the plant. Halterman criticized the way EPA requirements for run-off into sanitary sewers are being addressed.

Brown supports the use of TIF. He believes it puts the City in a position of strength when negotiating with prospective businesses. Crews cited the City’s successful use of TIF and believes it should not be restricted. Halterman pointed out that residents should benefit from development in lower taxes or increased services.

Crews would support a part-time mayor position if the people voted for it, but believes a balance between strong elected officials and professional staff is best. Brown sees no reason to reorganize the structure of Cedar Falls government and believes the council should decide if the position of mayor should be reduced to part-time . Halterman voiced opposition to  a city manager position saying that the people have no recourse from the ballot box. He believes the mayor is the ‘elected CEO’ of the community.

A forum participant asked the candidates how they would make decisions when their own convictions differ from the opinions of constituents.

“If I can see something that save lives, save injuries, and saves tax payers money, then I think the elected officials need to vote their conscience.” responded Crews, “If you do what you think is right and you can sleep at night then that is what you should do.”

Halterman believes leadership should concede to constituents. “Anything else,” he stated, “is arrogance.”

“There is a responsibility of a leader to lead, to communicate, to let folks know where you stand, “said Brown. “ But you also have to respect the process, which in our city is the council. The council is the power behind the process. The decision makers have to come to a consensus. Consensus means you don’t get what you want, but you are both moving the ball forward”

Listen to a recording of the forum here.

For more information on the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and their Government Relations activities, go to www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or contact Steve Dust at sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling 319-232-1156.

Waterloo Mayoral Candidate Forum Recap

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber held a Waterloo Mayoral Candidates Forum on Wednesday, October 21st at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center to give investor businesses the opportunity to understand each candidate’s position on issues that affect the economy including business climate, workforce, and quality of life.

Forty-five business leaders and community members attended the forum. Specific topics raised included: the “ban the box’ proposal that would require employers and landlords to remove questions about felony convictions from initial applications, public safety, the Waterloo Regional Airport, University Avenue, the Hwy. 63/Logan Plaza corridor, and economic development tools and assets.

“The Alliance & Chamber serves as the one voice for business in the region. We advocate for the concerns of business at the local, state, and national level. We provide opportunities for education on issues, interaction with officials, and encourage our investors to participate in the process,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber. “These candidate forums are designed for our investors to become better informed during a very busy legislative and election year.”

All five candidates participated in the Waterloo Forum including: City Councilman Quentin Hart; former three-term mayor Tim Hurley; Black Hawk County Supervisor Frank Magsamen; business owner and member of the city’s Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission Leah Morrison; and business owner Wayne Nathem.

Each of the mayoral candidates made a brief opening statement. Moderator Mike Mc Crary Chair of the Alliance & Chamber Government Relations Committee, then directed questions from the audience to the candidates.

In his opening statement Quentin Hart –outlined his five point platform focused on safer streets, economic development, neighborhood empowerment, creating a positive image and a 2025 vision plan for the future. He sees University Avenue as an opportunity to grow business. He points to the completed projects along the Hwy. 63 corridor and stresses an equal approach to economic development and redevelopment throughout the city. Hart cites the level of education of our people as the city’s number one economic development asset.

Tim Hurley cast his vision for Waterloo as “a city where capital, people and business come and want to stay.” He would accomplish this through strong economic development, efficient delivery of city services, and improved city image. If elected Hurley would strive to negotiate a fair price with the DOT and others on the transfer of University Avenue and its modernization. While Hurley would not “mess with TIF” he would examine how its use in the Crossroads retail area. Waterloo’s legacy of making products and the work ethic of its population are on his list of economic development strengths.

Hart and Hurley both acknowledge the need for a full-time economic developer to increase business growth and expansion.

Frank Magsamen described his goal to hire a professional city manager as seen in many large Iowa communities, moving away from the current mayor-led form of government. He sees University Avenue as a long-term project requiring more study. Magsamen believes existing business expansion is the best opportunity for economic growth. He also suggests limiting Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to 10 years. He considers the quality and quantity of water as one of Waterloo’s key economic development strength.

Wayne Nathem says his military and business background prepared him to lead the city. He would examine each department to cut costs. Nathem is adamantly opposed to roundabouts citing they ‘increase response time for emergency vehicles. He is also opposed to bike lanes and feels pedestrians are not a major concern on University Ave. He suggests a stronger relationship with Iowa Economic Development Authority to increase new business investment in Waterloo.

The basis of Leah Morrison’s  message is in lowering taxes, lowering the levy rate, and limiting the use of TIF. She stresses the importance of having all stakeholders involved in University Avenue decision-making. Morrison suggests an “all hands on deck” approach to redevelop Logan Plaza, an area where she would support a generous use of TIF. She would like to position Waterloo as a convention hub which in turn would increase traffic at the airport.

All candidates agree that the mayor’s office should support and equip law enforcement and that collaboration of community organizations needs to increase to make Waterloo safer. Building trust between the people and law enforcement is a priority of all candidates.

Hurley is the lone candidate who opposes the current ‘ban the box’ proposal stating that process should slow down in order to hear from the business and professional community.

(Read more on this in Tim Jamison’s Courier article here)

Investors have the opportunity to meet the Cedar Falls candidates in a similar forum on Friday, Oct. 23, at 7:30am at the Cedar Falls Visitors Center.

For more information on the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and their Government Relations activities, go to www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or contact Steve Dust at sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling 319-232-1156.

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Three Reinvestment District Projects receive provisional funding approvals

The Iowa Reinvestment District Program is designed to assist communities in developing transformative projects that will improve the quality of life, create and enhance unique opportunities and substantially benefit the community, region and state. The program provides for up to $100 million in new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues to be “reinvested” within approved districts. Districts cannot exceed 25 acres in size and must be in an Enterprise Zone or Urban Renewal Area.

Iowa Reinvestment District plans must include tax revenues generated by “new retail establishments” and “new lessors”.  New retail establishments cannot exceed 50 percent of the total proposed capital investment. At least one of the new proposed projects within the district must reach a total capital investment of $10 million. And, the total amount of new tax revenues to be remitted to the municipality cannot exceed 35 percent of the total cost of all proposed projects in the district plan.

Three of the 10 applicants received a score in excess of 70 points (out of 100) and presented their projects to the Due Diligence Committee in May. The IEDA board today, upon the recommendation of the Due Diligence Committee, decided on provisional funding for the projects in the city of Des Moines, the city of Muscatine and the city of Waterloo.

The provisional funding decisions are designed to provide practical feedback for municipalities interested in creating a reinvestment district but are not final or binding. Following the provisional approval, final application materials fully meeting all of the program’s requirements are due prior to March 1, 2015. Applicants may amend any part of the pre-application to represent any change to the proposed projects within the district. The final application will be re-scored in the same manner as the pre-application, if changes are made. The board’s final funding decision may be different from the provisional funding decision based on the final application.

The city of Des Moines was provisionally approved for a maximum of $36,487,400 in funding for its proposed district in the city’s downtown. The Des Moines plan proposes a total capital investment of $178.5 million and includes building a convention headquarters hotel, investing in infrastructure and amenities to support new visitors, redeveloping important downtown sites, preserving significant architecture, improving walk-ability throughout downtown, and connecting important amenities such as the Iowa Events Center, Principal Riverwalk, the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines and Cowles Commons, the East Village, Court Avenue and Western Gateway Park.

The Muscatine Reinvestment District received provisional funding approval of $10 million maximum for its $41.1 million capital investment. This district includes one major project, the Riverview Suites Development, consisting of three elements: the construction of a new hotel, the remodel of a vacant building into a conference and events center, and the construction of a parking ramp.

The city of Waterloo was provisionally approved for $12 million maximum for the TechWorks district, located at the west end of downtown and made up of land donated by Deere & Company. The district has a capital investment of $74.1 million and includes three projects. The first is a mixed-use development including a business-class hotel, industrial incubator, private sector lab and manufacturing maker-space and John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum.  The second project area includes commercial out-lots such as a restaurants and retailers that complement other project areas. The third project area includes a marina for boat storage, boat sales, fuel sales and a riverfront restaurant.

Full application materials for these three projects will be available within 10 days for public viewing at www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/CommunityDevelopment/ReinvestmentDistrict. Applications for subsequent Reinvestment Districts will be accepted from March 1-15, 2015.

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Download a spreadsheet of today’s awards:
http://iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/UserDocs/documents/IEDA/june14awards.pdf

Cedar Valley Investor Report

The Cedar Valley Investor Report gives a snap shot of the activities of the Alliance & Chamber, news from our investors, and informative articles selected for their relevance to economic growth in the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Valley Investor Report

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.

Top Leaders Attend Cedar Valley Legislative Event

The Alliance & Chamber Government Relations Committee hosted the 2014 Cedar Valley Legislative Reception on Tuesday, February 11th in Des Moines. The reception offers investors the unique opportunity  to speak with policy makers face to face in a casual environment.

In spite of the House being in debate until almost 6:15 pm and other competing functions,  those in attendance from the Cedar Valley were among some of the most important players at the State House: the Governor; the Lt. Governor; Debi Durham and her right hand man, Tim Whipple from the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (who said this was his #1 priority event for the evening); the Senators from Black Hawk, Bill Dotzler  and Jeff Danielson, who was the first to arrive and one of the last to leave; Senate President Pam Jochum; and House Assistant Majority Leader Walt Rogers. In all, 10 Senators and four Representatives were in attendance.   President Mark Kittrell and Communications & Marketing Director, Tonja Richards represented the Iowa Innovation Corporation with whom we are working on the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Alliance & Chamber Investors to attend Cedar Valley Legislative Reception

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will host its annual Cedar Valley Legislative Reception on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 from 5:00-7:00 PM, in the Terrace Ballroom, Renaissance Savery Hotel, 401 Locust St., Des Moines.

Investors in the Alliance & Chamber are invited to attend and share the story of the Cedar Valley and discuss issues of importance to Cedar Valley businesses with Legislators and other key administration officials. Legislators from 12 Iowa counties, along with the Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds, Debi Durham, Director of Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), and Ed Wallace, Director of Iowa Workforce Development are expected to attend.

There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated  by calling the Alliance & Chamber at (319)232-1156.

The Alliance & Chamber encourages voters to say “Yes” on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber encourage the voters of Black Hawk County communities to renew  the one-cent Local Option Sales Tax on the ballot on Tuesday, November 5th.

 

Since 1991, the communities of Black Hawk County, with voter approval, have collected a one percent sales and service tax on qualified purchases. Waterloo and Cedar Falls have consistently used the revenues from this sales tax for the construction and repair of streets. Both cities have again pledged to use the revenues in a similar manner if the tax is reauthorized. Other cities have also used the revenues for key attributes, while others have reduced property tax burdens.

 

The sales tax has produced notable results. For instance, in Cedar Falls and Waterloo alone, since the tax program’s implementation, hundreds of miles of streets have been reconstructed, overlaid, or seal-coated; and many railroad crossings have been replaced.

 

The sales tax is imposed by local governments on goods and services sold within Black Hawk County. Out-of-county purchases generate an estimated 35% of the tax revenue.

 

The Alliance & Chamber encourages government at all levels to monitor operations continuously to discover ways to reduce property tax, sales and service tax, and other fees that are ostensibly taxes imposed on business and residents. However, we recognize that the revenues from this sales and service tax are used for key infrastructure for economic growth and a satisfactory quality of life, and there are established oversight committees established to review the proposed uses of the tax revenue.

 

Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber endorses the renewal of the one-cent Local Option Sales and Service Tax in Black Hawk County. The Alliance & Chamber encourages voters to say “Yes” on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

Approved by the Board of Directors, during its regular meeting on October 1, 2013.

___________________________

Steven J. Dust

CEO

 

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