Waterloo, IA: (319) 232-1156 | Cedar Falls, IA: (319) 266-3593

Tag Archives: Greater Cedar Valley Alliance &Chamber

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

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust Is Resigning

Dust Will Continue to Run Alliance & Chamber Operations and Assist the Executive Committee with the Search for His Replacement in Interim

Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Steve Dust, CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Cedar Valley of Iowa—Steve Dust, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber (GCVAC) CEO, announced he will be leaving the organization he helped bring together 14 years ago when he was recruited to the executive role of the area’s newly formed economic development entity. Dust made the announcement at the GCVAC’s regularly scheduled board of directors meeting today.

“I’m not retiring, I’m transitioning out of my role as CEO,” said Dust. “After thoughtful consideration, I’ve come to realize that the skills needed to unify, build and develop the Alliance & Chamber over the last 14 years are very different than the skills needed to move the Alliance & Chamber to the next level. Donita (Steve’s wife) and I have decided that the best way I could serve the organization that I’ve worked to create and advance, as well as pursue the type of work that I’m best at, and most interested in, would be to leave the Alliance & Chamber.”

Dust said he notified GCVAC’s executive committee of his decision last November and they worked together on a transition plan which may run through June 30, 2018. During this interim period, Dust will assist the executive committee with the search for his replacement, while continuing to manage day-to-day operations and conduct fundraising calls for the Alliance & Chamber’s ongoing campaign. He said he and his wife hope to stay in the Cedar Valley.

“I’m so very proud of the Cedar Valley and what we’ve built together, starting with merging the Cedar Falls and Waterloo chambers together, and then merging the chambers into the Alliance,” said Dust. “The Cedar Valley is now a recognized leader in regional collaboration and impactful economic development. And, the Cedar Valley is now known for its innovation and technology-based strategies, talent recruitment and retainment initiatives, and as the center of manufacturing in Iowa.”

Manufacturing Hub

According to Tim Hurley, TechWorks board chair, Dust was instrumental in re-establishing the Cedar Valley as the center of manufacturing, by securing funding for TechWorks and receiving legislative designation for TechWorks as the Manufacturing Hub.

“Steve pursued The Iowa Reinvestment District Program as a funding tool to execute the TechWorks vision,” said Hurley. “The program provides for new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues to be re-invested within urban renewal areas—and with Steve’s leadership we received $12 million in funding.”

TechWorks Campus is an advanced manufacturing, research & development, innovation, education, commercial and manufacturing center located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. The campus is comprised of 20 acres of development sites and 180,000 square feet of flex space for innovation and development.

The TechWorks Campus is home to many entities including the University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing Center and Design Lab, Hawkeye Community College Design Lab, the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub, John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum and the newly opened Courtyard by Marriott, soon to be joined by the John Deere Training Center and Blue Iguana Restaurant in what has been known as the Tech 2 building.

“Steve was honored by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry at its 2016 Advanced Manufacturing Conference largely for not only being a vocal advocate for TechWorks and the Cedar Valley, but for bringing Iowa business issues to the statehouse in Des Moines and to Washington,” said Hurley.  “And, Washington took notice of the Cedar Valley too.”

Technology Infrastructure

Dust created the Gigabit Valley concept, emphasizing that broadband is the infrastructure of the future. He worked with the City of Waterloo to conduct studies of business and institutional broadband use which led to the creation of the Waterloo Municipal Telecom Utility. Google also recognized Cedar Falls with a 2014 eCity Award which is given to the strongest online business community in each state – the digital capitals of America.

In 2015, President Obama visited the Cedar Valley to applaud broadband leadership.

“It was a very proud day when President Obama came to the Cedar Valley to recognize CFU and the City of Cedar Falls as Iowa’s first gigabit city—and a leading broadband city in the U.S.,” said Dust. “From gaming companies to the many IT firms that make up our economic base, we’re truly a region focused on innovation and technology.”

Talent Recruitment and Retention

Bob Smith, chairman of the GCVAC board and president of Lockard, noted several successful milestones under Steve’s leadership over the Alliance & Chamber’s first 14 years, including a regional alignment calling for one voice for the Cedar Valley and a well-known and well-marketed Cedar Valley economic area, supported by a strong economic base. According to Smith, with great progress toward these initial milestones achieved, the GCVAC shifted its focus in 2014 to developing and funding long-term programs for talent recruitment and retention.

“We emerged from a board planning session, knowing the Cedar Valley’s current and future growth was directly related to the GCVAC’s success as the connector between workforce needs and talent development, recruitment and retainment,” said Smith. “We needed to begin work right away to establish programs for lifelong learning, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, as well as enhance quality of life by developing attributes, including a strengthened retail and service sector. We must make the Cedar Valley an inviting place to enjoy life, enhance a career, operate a business and retire.

We saw Steve bring business, higher education and community leaders, as well as educators and students, together to collaborate in forming the Inclusion Partnership, #LivetheValley, #WorktheValley, Leader Valley Foundation and more. Steve has many talents including being a great builder, inclusive collaborator, and program and initiative developer—and the Alliance & Chamber board is most appreciative of his leadership.  We now need to find the next CEO for Steve to pass the baton to lead fundraising efforts, develop new funding mechanisms and champion our vision to make the greater Cedar Valley, even greater.”

About the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, not-for-profit corporation working to increase wealth and economic vitality through collaborative economic and community development throughout the Cedar Valley economic area. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

# # #

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


5 on Friday: Fuel for Thought December 15, 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: HowFactory.com – Manufacturer’s New Bestie

As a new part of 5 on Friday, I’m going to highlight a Cedar Valley product or firm from time to time. There’s no better place to start than HowFactory.

HowFactory should be the best friend of any process dependent enterprise. The brainchild of IT guru Trace Steffen, How Factory is blossoming into one of the Cedar Valley’s top new and scaling products. You may remember the HowFactory’s team won a 2016 Howard Brock Innovation Award from the Alliance & Chamber.

Trace and his team of knowledge documentation warriors describe HowFactory’s capabilities this way: HowFactory is the simple platform that allows users to manage the knowledge critical to your team’s success and growth. The company’s tagline: “We’re not your father’s How-To Manual.” I encourage you to take the HowFactory suggestion and sign up for a 14-day test drive of the platform at www.HowFactory.com. Give Trace and his team a call to get a better idea how to align your firm’s knowledge base with an exciting, visual way of communicating and monitoring. #CedarValleyMade

Start your 14 day free trial

TWO: What’s Next for 3D in Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing – 3D printing – is a big deal in the Cedar Valley. If you have not yet seen the Additive Manufacturing and Design Lab on the first floor of TechWorks Tech 1, you need to! We made a big deal in 2013 out of the first big sand casting machine that was delivered, but several more production scale printers and scanners have been delivered since then. The design lab is in Tech 1, too. This asset has brought business and attention to the Cedar Valley. What’s next for this technology? This article charts a probable course for industrial applications of 3D printing.

New frontier: Here’s where 3D printing is headed next in industrial manufacturing, Christine LaFave Grace, Plant Services (Putman Media), December 7, 2017

THREE: Pass-through Entities and the Tax Bill

This is an informative, brief piece on the potential impacts of the Fed Tax Reform on the important pass-through structure for business.

Pass-Through Rate In Focus As Congress Gears Up For Tax Vote, Patrick Gorman, Chief Executive, December 14, 2017

FOUR: Sales Growth Hacks

It’s all about knowing your customer.

10 Growth Hacking Strategies to Triple Your Sales, R.L. Adams, Entrepreneur, December 5, 2017

FIVE: George Friedman Forecasts 2018

There are many forecasts for 2018 from many different directions. Here’s one you need to read, from George Friedman of Geopolitical Futures. He’s one of the best informed, objective observers out there.

[PDF] 2018: A Year of Tenuous Stability, Geopolitical Futures, 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

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