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Tag Archives: Governor Terry Brandstad

Waterloo Business Park Recognized as an Iowa Certified Site

Today, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds announced five additional
industrial sites to achieve certification through the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) certified site program. The City’s South Waterloo Business Park was among the five announced during Governor Branstad’s weekly press conference at the Capitol this
morning.

The South Waterloo Business Park totals 181 acres and is located immediately south of Highway 20 and generally bounded by Ansborough Avenue, Shaulis Road, and Kimball Avenue. Waterloo is one of only 17 sites certified in Iowa. In an effort to address the lack of project ready industrial sites, the Iowa Economic Development

In an effort to address the lack of project ready industrial sites, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) created the Iowa Certified Site Program in May 2012. Under the leadership of Director Debi Durham, IEDA retained nationally recognized site selection firm McCallum Sweeney Consulting to perform independent analysis of applicants on behalf of IEDA.

“These five additional sites give Iowa – and Waterloo – an advantage when it comes to growing our state’s economy,” said Gov. Branstad. “The Communities have gone through a rigorous process to become certified and should be proud of what they have accomplished. Each site being ‘development-ready’ means more projects coming to Iowa and, in turn, more jobs.

“We are extremely excited to have the South Waterloo Business Park certified as a ‘development ready site’ said Quentin Hart, Mayor, City of Waterloo. “In partnership with the Alliance & Chamber we have been marketing it as development ready site and now it has the official designation as being such by McCallum Sweeney Consultants and the Iowa Economic Development Authority”. Hart added.

“The South Waterloo Business Park is immediately located off U.S. Highway 20 and near I-380 well positioned for expanding companies to service east-west and north-south U.S. markets.” He said.

Site certification is one of the fastest growing trends in the site selection business, and by introducing certified sites to the market Iowa is better able to compete for large scale projects. By going through this rigorous process, developers — working closely with their local officials, utility partners and consultants — are better prepared to market their sites with specific site-related information and community data. All site due diligence is completed and resulting issues are mitigated, making the site “risk-free” and thus accelerating the development schedule.

With the help of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, the City completed the certification process within 18 months, once McCallum Sweeny Consulting invited Waterloo to complete the required due diligence on the Park. To be certified the Park had to meet eight criteria including the ability to provide at least 5 megawatts of electric energy, fiber optics, and 500,000 gallons of water per day of excess capacity at the site within a 6 month timeframe. The certification process required a close partnership between City planning officials, Waterloo Water Works, Waterloo Waste Water, MidAmerican Energy Co. and Mediacom Communications.

“The Alliance & Chamber continues to see an increased demand by site selection consultants and companies for shovel ready sites versus a traditional greenfield site”, said Steve Dust, President/CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. “The Certified Site designation essentially shortens a company’s schedule for new construction. This a location differentiator for the Park”, Dust added.

McCallum Sweeny Consultant will provide Waterloo and Alliance & Chamber officials with
recommendations for marketing and industry targets which will be incorporated in the Alliance & Chamber’s external marketing initiatives for the Cedar Valley. IEDA also undertakes special marketing initiatives to promote Iowa’s Certified Sites. The South Waterloo Business Park is well suited for companies engaged in light industrial, logistics/distribution, and data centers.

Companies interested in receiving more information on the South Waterloo Business Park should contact Noel Anderson or Adrienne Miller with the City of Waterloo at 319-291-4366 or Lisa Skubal at the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156.

Cedar Valley receives Healthy Hometown Founder award

Mayor Jon Crews and Sue Beach receive award on behalf of Cedar Valley Blue Zones

Mayor Jon Crews and Sue Beach receive award on behalf of Cedar Valley Blue Zones. Pictured with Gov. Terry Branstad and Ltn. Gov. Kim Reynolds

Healthiest State Initiative recognize communities’ efforts to improve health and well-being

DES MOINES, IA (Nov. 2, 2016) — The cities of Cedar Falls and Waterloo were presented a Healthy HometownSM POWERED BY Wellmark award at the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative Bringing it Home conference on Nov.1, 2016. The award recognizes the Cedar Valley for their dedication and accomplishments toward meaningful health improvement initiatives in their community.

“The Healthy Hometown Founder award celebrates the achievements made in the Cedar Valley,” said Jami Haberl, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative executive director. “Cedar Falls and Waterloo have been a model for other Iowa communities and is an encouraging example of what can be done when the citizens of a community join together to truly transform their environment.”

Some noteworthy achievements in Cedar Falls include:

  • Integrating brain breaks in the schools as well as removing pop machines and unhealthy food fundraisers.
  • Building a new pedestrian bridge that connected residential areas with retailers, schools and workplaces.
  • Achieving a 20 percent increase in volunteering among employees at John Deere PEC.
  • Passing land protection policies that pave the way for healthy eating via farmers’ markets and community gardens.

Some noteworthy accomplishments in Waterloo include:

  • Logging 3,428 miles by Orange Elementary students during their first year of promoting physical activity through classroom movement and recess.
  • Losing a combined 1,661 pounds in one year resulting in 56 employees moving from pre-diabetic to normal range at Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing.
  • Constructing a multi-million dollar Highway 63 corridor project’s first phase featuring an impressive two-mile stretch with wide sidewalks, landscaping trees, brick pavers, lighting and benches.
  • Creating 10 gardens thought out the city, four of which are school gardens.

Healthy Hometown program available for all Iowa communities

The Healthy Hometown program is available to all Iowa communities ready to take steps to make the healthy choice the easy choice and improve the overall well-being of their communities.

“One of the best parts of the Healthy Hometown program is the ability for Iowa communities to make improvements that are important to them,” said Laura Jackson, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative board president. “The program offers various levels of support — including assistance from experts if they choose — and guides them to existing resources so they can make their hometown an even better place to live.”

There are three ways communities or organizations can get started. The first is an online self-assessment tool for communities to review where they are at today and how they can connect with existing resources to make enhancements. In 2017, two additional options will be available to help communities put a plan in place for either a specific project or a complete community transformation.

More information about the Healthy Hometown program, including the assessment and resources, is available at: www.iowahealthieststate.com.

$12 million for the TechWorks Campus Reinvestment District

Economic Development Board approves Reinvestment District Funding for Waterloo

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board today met to approve funding for the City of Waterloo through the Iowa Reinvestment District program.

The board  approved the maximum benefit amount of $12 million for the TechWorks Campus Reinvestment District plan submitted by the City of Waterloo. 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 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.

In 2014, 10 municipalities submitted applications, with three receiving a score in excess of 70 points (out of 100). In June, 2014, the IEDA board approved provisional funding for the projects in the City of Des Moines, the City of Muscatine and the City of Waterloo. Final application materials fully meeting all of the program’s requirements are due prior to March 1, 2015.

The City of Waterloo submitted its final application on Jan. 23, 2015, and today the IEDA board acted to award the maximum $12 million benefit amount contingent on the receipt of a fully executed, amended development agreement between the City of Waterloo, Cedar Valley TechWorks and the developer.

The TechWorks district, located at the west end of downtown and made up of land donated by Deere & Company, would have a capital investment of $74.1 million and include 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.

Final applications for the cities of Des Moines and Muscatine have not yet been submitted to the IEDA board.

Broadband Access Topic of Summit

Broadband Access Topic of Summit 

In June, Alliance & Chamber Director of Business Services, Nate Clayberg attended the annual Connect Iowa Broadband Summit.  The conference was attended by community and school administrators, economic developers, communications industry executives, representatives from John Deere and Gov. Terry Branstad.

Data was presented at the conference that shows the main barriers for broadband adoption by Iowans are perceived lack of relevance, cost, and digital literacy.  In the survey 31% of those surveyed did not see relevance to being connected by broadband, and a third of those were rural residents of the state.  Cost was most relevant to low income families with children, and the minority population saw digital literacy as their biggest barrier to adopting broadband access. It was noted that 113,000 school-age children in Iowa still do not have broadband access at home.

John Deere Manager of Spectrum Advocacy Mark Lewellen gave the keynote presentation at the conference to show the importance of wireless broadband networks expansion in rural areas for the next level of farming in the U.S.  John Deere equipment currently comes with data modems installed as standard equipment, but he notes that feature is not as valuable if it cannot connect to a network.  He said with the growing demand for more food, fuel and feed to support a growing global population, efficiencies in agriculture production are a must to support this demand.  Deere’s FarmSight technology system is being designed to help farmers become more productive and profitable with precision agriculture techniques, but connecting to mobile broadband is key to making the system run effectively for their customers.  Watch “The Future of Farming is in Sight” 

The increased broadband demand in our rural areas, especially mobile access, will be a great driver to help our rural areas sustain and possibly grow population and businesses that require digital connection to the world for business and personal access.  This plays especially well for the rural school districts, many of which are offering one to one digital learning with tablets and laptops for students to use at school and at home.  Howard-Winneshiek School District Superintendent John Carver presented to the conference on how the school is using technology to connect across their 462 square mile district, the second largest in the state.  But he faces challenges in his smaller rural communities that have limited access for not only their school buildings but the homes of their students as well.  It makes it challenging for students to complete assignments with a weaker broadband infrastructure in those areas. Carver discussed a couple interesting requests he has to the state education department in regards to their one to one digital access. Can they eliminate snow days by having teachers connect with students on those days that personnel and pupils cannot make it to their school buildings? And why is there a state law against mobile broadband hotspots on school buses? A feature that would help Howard-Winn students that spend time on buses commuting from home to school. He is awaiting a response to these questions as it relates to an ever changing digital world.

  • The Cedar Valley is leading the way in broad accessibility and acceptance. In February of 2014, Governor Branstad recognized Black Hawk County as the fourth community to become a Certified Connected Community in the state and 20th in the nation.
  • In May of 2014 Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) announced 1-Gig service to every home and every business in the city making Cedar Falls Iowa’s first ‘Gigabit City.’ Mediacom also provides gigabit fiber accessible to the entire Cedar Valley Region.
  •  Learn more at  www.connectiowa.org

Branstad signs the Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act into law

May 27, 2014

– Gov. Terry E. Branstad today was joined by Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham as he signed the Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act into law.

“Across Iowa we’re seeing record-breaking economic development projects that have resulted in more Iowans working than ever before in our state’s history,” said Branstad. “The projects bring an increased demand for skilled tradespeople. The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act will ensure companies looking to expand or build in Iowa are met with a well-trained workforce.”

“Economic development projects across Iowa since 2011 have brought quality, good-paying jobs to our communities,” said Reynolds. “In order to continue to attract these companies, and the jobs they bring with them, we must have a highly-skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of our growing economy. The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act will expand funding for apprenticeship training, help reduce student debt and provide Iowans the skills needed for a successful career.”

The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act does the following:

  • Allow students to earn while they learn, rather than taking on significant student debt.  They provide the apprentice with focused, hands-on training and a paycheck from day one.
  • The Governor’s plan triples funding for apprenticeships while reforming and improving the state’s apprenticeship program.
  • With over $8.8 billion in capital investments incentivized by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, demand for a skilled workforce has increased all across our state.
  • Nationwide, there are registered apprenticeships for more than 1,000 occupations, with programs impacting 250,000 employers and approximately 450,000 apprentices. In Iowa in FY13, there were 662 registered apprenticeship programs, and over 8,100 registered apprentices.

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Economic Development Board Approves Cedar Valley Project

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board  awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to nine companies for job creation and expansion projects including a major project in the Cedar Valley. These awards will assist in the creation/retention of 484 jobs and will result in nearly $105 million in new capital investment for the state.

A proposed project includes an investment to expand tractor product laboratories at the John Deere Product Engineering Center in Cedar Falls. These investments will address the evolution of tractor size and power, and add test capabilities to help ensure that John Deere products meet customers’ expectations for productivity, reliability, efficiency and comfort. The project is expected to have a capital investment of $27.7 million and would retain 29 jobs at a qualifying wage of $18.84. The board awarded John Deere tax incentives through the HQJP to complete this project in Iowa.

 

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.

Veridian’s Angela Weekley Among Recipients of Governor’s 2013 Volunteer Awards

 

 

Waterloo, Iowa: Angela Weekley, Community Inclusion Manager for Veridian Credit Union, was among the recipients to receive a 2013 Governor’s Volunteer Award from Governor Branstad during a special recognition ceremony June 25th in Cedar Falls.

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards program was created in 1982 as a small program only available to state government agencies. The awards now provide all Iowa nonprofit, charitable and government organizations with a way to honor volunteers with state-level recognition.

“Volunteerism is an important part of the state’s future and well-being,” said Governor Branstad. “I am honored to have the opportunity to recognize the people of our great state who continue the tradition of neighbor-helping-neighbor and work tirelessly to improve their communities.”

Weekley’s award was derived from the Individual Award category for her work mentoring in Waterloo schools for TeamMates. The goal of TeamMate’s mentoring program is to see youth graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education

Veridian Credit Union, founded in 1934 in Waterloo, Iowa, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members. The credit union offers a full range of consumer financial services and employs more than 560 Iowans throughout 26 branches, including 13 in the Cedar Valley. For more information, visit www.veridiancu.org or call (800) 235-3228.

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Iowa Property Taxes Reduced for Commercial & Industiral Tax Payers

The persistence of Iowa commercial and industrial property owners finally paid dividends in a reduction in your property tax burden! After several tries over the last decade, the legislature and Governor came to agreement on the start to property tax reform, and provided modest tax reduction at the same time.
We appreciate those of you who contacted your legislators, encouraging them to finally act on an inequity in the tax system that has persisted – and has been an impediment to economic growth –  for far too long.

While not all was achieved that we were looking for – the rate of rollback is much less than the original proposal –  it is a start. Beyond this, it may provide the motivation for a reform of the entire system in years to come.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, through its Government Relations Committee and our director of governmental relations Steve Firman, collaborated with a coalition that included the Iowa Chamber Alliance, Iowa Association of Business & Industry, Professional Developers of Iowa, and Iowa Taxpayers Association to continually impress upon our elected officials the need for this change.

Conference Committee Report for SF 295 – Property Tax

 

Division I—Business Property Tax Credit (“Senate Plan” element)

  • Creates a Business Property Tax Credit for property taxes due and payable in fiscal  year 2015.
  • $50 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2015 to the Business Property Tax Credit  Fund
  • $100 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2016
  • $125 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2017
  • $125 million every year thereafter
  • Each person who wishes to file a claim will obtain a form from the County Assessor.
    The  form does not have to be filed again until the property is sold or transferred.
  • The state will use the money appropriated into the Business Property Tax Credit Fund to reimburse local governments the amount of credits issued.
  • When fully phased in, at least $145,000 of property value on every business would   be equal to the residential rollback
  • Total Fiscal impact to local governments is $16 million when fully phased in.

 

Division II —Property Tax Assessment Limitation and Replacement (“House Plan” element)

  • Assessment growth limitation moves from 4% to 3% on Ag and residential immediately.
  • Commercial and Industrial will assessed at 95% of valuation starting January 1, 2013; at 90% starting January 1, 2014; and is frozen at 90% thereafter.
  • The State will appropriate money for replacement of the lost revenue. Payments will be made by IDR to county treasurers:

FY 15 $78.8 million (includes multi-residential)

FY 16 $162.8 million (includes multi-residential)

FY 17 $154.1 million (does not include multi-residential and capped at this level

going forward)

 

Division III—Multi-residential Property Classification

  •  Creates a new property classification: Multi-residential
  •  Multi-residential will include apartments, nursing homes, assisted living facilities , and  certain other rental property
  •  The existing classifications are Residential, Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial
  •  Multi-residential properties will eventually equal the residential rollback after 10 years.
  •  Total fiscal impact to local governments is $85.3 million when fully phased in.

Assessment Year 2013 95%

Assessment Year 2014 90%

Assessment Year 2015 86%

Assessment Year 2016 82%

Assessment Year 2017 78%

Assessment Year 2018 75%

Assessment Year 2019 71%

Assessment year 2020 67%

Assessment year 2021 63%

Assessment year 2022 and thereafter: Residential rate

 

Division IV —Telecommunications Property

  • Determining the taxable value of each company stays the same
  • Each telephone company will receive a partial exemption from taxation on the value of the company’s property. This is phased in, with half in assessment year 2013 (FY 15), and the remainder being added in assessment year 2014 (FY 16)
  • Department of Revenue is directed to complete a comprehensive study of the telecommunications industry and report recommendations for change to the General Assembly

Assessed value        $0-$20M        $20-$55M        $55-$500M        >$500M

Exemption                    40%                    35%                    25%                     20%

 

Division V – Iowa Taxpayers Trust Fund Tax Credit

  •  Each year, beginning July 1, 2014, the balance of the Taxpayers Trust Fund exceeds $30 million a tax credit will be issued to Iowa taxpayers
  •  The tax credit will be issued to Iowans with a tax liability
  •  $60 million is the maximum amount that can flow into the taxpayer trust fund each year
  • $60 million equals a $27 credit per filer. $120 million would equal $54

 

Division VI -Property Assessment Appeal Board

  • Five year sunset – July 1, 2018, lower salaries, adding another appraiser to the   board (replacing the finance profession with state and local tax policy experience, allowing for a speedier hearing process.)

Division VII—Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit from 7% to 14% in tax year 2013; 15% in tax year 2014
  • The credit remains refundable.
  • The increase is effective retroactively to January 1, 2013.
  • Fiscal impact: $30.8 million in FY 14 , increasing to $34.5 in FY 15

 

The Business Case for Education Reform

By John Stineman, Executive Director, Iowa Chamber Alliance

The 2013 legislative session presents many opportunities for business —  property tax reform, economic development incentives, transportation infrastructure to name just a few issues that perennially top the agenda of Iowa’s businesses and economic development community.  Standing atop these important issues is education reform.

Education?

Yes, business considers education reform to be at least as important as the other core issues within our policy agendas.

The fact of the matter is that Iowa’s once vaunted public education system is no longer as competitive as it was just half a generation ago.

It’s not so much that Iowa has gone backward as much as it is that the rest of the country has improved at a far greater pace.  We used to be at or near the top and now dwell in the lower end of the middle of the pack.

From a strictly business perspective, we must address education reform because of Iowa’s growing skills gap.  Today in Iowa about 18% of available jobs are considered to be “low skill,” but about 38% of the available Iowa workforce is classified as “low skill.”  Middle skill job openings represent half of all open positions in Iowa, but only one-third of available workers are considered to be middle skill.

The skills gap is real, it is growing, and, unfortunately, our education system today is not geared to address it.

Beyond the immediate workforce needs, consider our education outcomes today.  36% of the “Class of 2012” that went on to higher or vocational education after high school required some sort of remedial education after high school.  This is stark evidence we are not systematically equipping our kids with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed after high school.

Of course, it’s not just about the skills gap or what kind of access employers need to qualified workers.

It’s about Iowa’s kids.  It’s about our kids and grandkids.

We’ve all chosen to live in Iowa, to raise our families here.  Making sure our kids have access to a quality education that will help prepare our kids to compete in a global economy and pursue their dreams is among our most important duties.

That’s why education reform is so important.

The reforms proposed by the Governor and now being vetted by the Iowa House of Representatives are a solid start on turning the tide for Iowa’s schools.  The reforms bring with them substantive changes that will fuel teacher leadership from mentor teachers and teacher leaders to drive innovation and energy into subject matter teachers.

The proposal elevates the profession of teaching – increasing first year pay and providing a longer student teaching period so new teachers can hit the ground running when given their own classroom.

The reform proposal expands online learning opportunities by bringing students from across Iowa together to learn online from Iowa teachers in districts that offer subjects not offered in other districts.

Teacher accountability is also important.  A statistic often cited at the Capitol is that 98% of Iowa teachers receive favorable reviews.  While there are many, many quality teachers across Iowa, it is simply not realistic to believe that only two in every 100 are in need of improvement.  Evaluations must include student performance as well as peer reviews and other measures.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance is supportive of the reforms proposed and interested in other ideas that will help improve Iowa’s schools as well.  We are hopeful partisan differences and political arguments can be set aside so that meaningful reform can be achieved.

There is simply too much at stake for us not to succeed in improving our schools.  It truly is the most important thing we can do this session.

For more information, please contact Iowa Chamber Alliance Executive Director, John Stineman, at (515) 226-1492 or john@iowachamberalliance.com.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is an active member of the Iowa Chamber Alliance. Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust is the current Chair of ICA board of directors. Steve Firman, Alliance & Chamber Director of Gov’t Relations is also on its board.

 

 

 

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