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Tag Archives: Greater Cedar Valley Alliance &Chamber


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.


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 November 10, 2017

ONE: Cedar Valley Brags

We have a lot to brag about in our Cedar Valley. We see it every day, and we love it when others recognize us. Here is a link to the web page where we collect those bragging points. But we don’t find them all. If you find a brag, we should be sharing with our talented workforce, business, and influencer targets, send it to us. We’ll add them to the list.

Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber website, Brags & Rankings

TWO: Computer Science in K-12 by 2019

This year, the Iowa legislature mandated the Iowa Department of Education complete a plan to offer instruction by July 1, 2019in the fundamentals of computer science in elementary schools, exploratory computer science in middle school, and at least one high-quality computer science course in high schools. The report linked below was issued November 1. Do you have comments on this? Let me know by email so I can collect your views, add mine, and send it along to the Iowa Department of Education and Governor’s Special Assistant for Education.

Computer Science Education Work Group, State of Iowa Department of Education, November 1, 2017

THREE: Eldorado Resorts

One of our newest Cedar Valley corporate names is Eldorado Resorts, Inc. (ERI). Eldorado purchased the Isle Hotel Waterloo along with other Isle of Capri assets this year. I’m still learning about the company, and its vision for the industry and the Waterloo property, specifically. Here’s a link to their October investor presentation.

Investor Presentation October 2017, Eldorado Resorts

FOUR: Iowa Taxes

The closer the calendar gets to January, the more we’ll read and hear about the priorities of associations and legislators about priorities for the 2018 session. Tax reform in many forms will be discussed, whether or not any (useful) action is taken. The Tax Foundation, a national think tank researches taxes of all classes at the federal and state level. One of the interesting takeaways is that their State Business Tax System Ranking places Iowa’s overall tax system as 40th in the nation, and our business tax system as 49th in the US. That isn’t good. Below is a link to their recommendations for Iowa. Follow the link below for details.

Iowa Tax Reform Options: Building a Tax System for the 21st Century, Tax Foundation, May 5, 2016

FIVE: International Trade in Solar Panels

The rules of the road for international trade and commerce is at the forefront – NAFTA, Brexit, and all that. But international trade impacts us at a granular level: the Cedar Valley exports a lot of ag commodities as well as equipment from tractors to winches, and we import components, ingredients, and more. But the rules of trade aren’t straightforward. Here’s an article that shows how complex, if not plainly goofy, the rules of trade get contorted. And there are a couple of links within the item that are good reads, too. (There’s advertising at the end that will allow you to sign up for the newsletter if you wish.)

Tariffs on Your Roof, Patrick Watson, Connecting the Dots(Mauldin Economics), November 7, 2017


5 on Friday: Fuel for Thought November 3, 2017

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

Fuel for Thought What's Steve Dust Reading this Week? November 3, 2017






One: Cedar Valley in Top 100 Places to Start a Biz

The website How to Start an LLC has ranked U.S. metros where it’s easiest to start a business, according to their matrix. The criteria, plus the entire list, is available at this link.

Top Cities to Start a Business, How to Start an LLC, 2017

Two: Your Comment Needed — Future Ready Iowa

I recently linked the Future Ready Iowa Alliance board’s website in this space. The recommendations to achieve 70 percent of the Iowa workforce holding post-secondary credentials are listed there. Your comments are needed. Are the goals on the right track?

Comment on the page at this link: Future Ready Iowa Alliance Final Recommendations

Three: Iowa’s Leading Indicators

The Iowa Department of Revenue publishes a monthly report. Spoiler alert for September: Industrials are good, Ag, not so good.

Iowa Leading Indicators Index September 2017 Report, Iowa Department of Revenue, September 2017

Four: Which Cities Are Attracting Tech Talent?

We’re learning how to attract talented people, as well as businesses to the Cedar Valley. This is an article that features some attributes of (much larger) places where tech-specific talent is willing to go. It’s a slide show, see button at top of web site.

5 U.S. Cities Luring Tech Talent Away From Silicon Valley, Entrepreneur, October 31, 2017

Five: What is a Smart City?

And in the vein of “what does it take,” the talent equation fundamentally depends on quality of place. This is a long think piece by someone paid to think about how to connect a complex system – a city – to meaningful data and information. The role of data, ignored as a frill by many, is essential to the city’s ability to thrive as a service deliverer and keeper of place. For those who volunteer countless hours over many years to improve their cities, and those in city government in any way, this is a good article to crunch through.

The Search for a Theory of Cities, Colin Harrison, Meeting of the Minds, November 2, 2017

Succession Planning Workshop is Nov. 9

RSVP by Nov 2 to Learn to Transition Leadership, Ownership of Business

Speakers will answer questions such as:

  • Who will take over when I leave?
  • What does business transition look like?
  • How do I plan for succession?

CEDAR VALLEY OF IOWA, October 10, 2017 – Learn the process of identifying and developing new leaders of your business to replace yourself or other leaders who retire leave at an Advance Iowa Succession Planning Workshop on November 9 in Waterloo.

The workshop will be from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. on November 9 at Waterloo Center for the Arts, Rotary Room, 225 Commercial Street, Waterloo. It is an event of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.

The workshop is designed for owners and partners of small- to medium-size companies who are considering retirement or selling their business within the next five to 10 years.

The idea is to get them to start thinking of an exit strategy, said Lisa Skubal, Vice President for Economic Development, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. The transition doesn’t only affect owners and senior leadership, it also affects employees.

Lisa Skubal, Vice President of Economic Development, headshot

Lisa Skubal

“It takes years to be able to plan out what that succession plan is,” Skubal said. “We want those businesses to continue to grow and thrive where they are in the Cedar Valley.”

Because almost every seat was filled in at a similar April workshop, the Alliance & Chamber scheduled this second session.

“We introduce those opportunities and give them the resources so they start having those conversations,” Skubal said.

Speakers will answer questions such as

  • Who will take over when I leave?
  • What does business transition look like?
  • How do I plan for succession?

Speakers are Paul Kinghorn, Director of the Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa, and Dan Beenken, Program Director and Lead Consultant for Advance Iowa.

Register for the workshop by November 2 online at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com, by emailing info@cedarvalleyalliance.com, or by calling the Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156.

About Advance Iowa

Advance Iowa is the State of Iowa’s comprehensive consulting program designed to work with mid-sized companies to enhance their growth. It is often lonely at the top for business owners, we are here to be a third party sounding board and trusted advisor. Advance Iowa assists firms in overcoming their obstacles and helps to identify new opportunities. Advance Iowa is a program at the Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa. Learn more at www.advanceiowa.com or call 319-273-4322.

About Paul Kinghorn

Paul Kinghorn, Advance Iowa, headshopt

Paul Kinghorn, Advance Iowa

Paul Kinghorn is the Director of the Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa. Kinghorn has held ownership and key management positions within public and private organizations including a variety of startups and early stage business ventures. He has experienced the complexities inherent in commercializing technology and innovation and in bringing improvement into organizations and has over 20 years’ experience consulting with businesses of various sizes in all aspects of their operations. Paul has an interest and passion in the areas of ideation, startup development, strategy, leadership development and process efficiency particularly as each pertains to enhancing sustainability and maximizing shareholder value. Kinghorn received his bachelor’s degree from Franklin University and MBA from Ohio University.

About Dan Beenken

Dan Beenken, Advance Iowa, Headshot

Dan Beenken, Advance Iowa

Dan Beenken serves as the Program Director and Lead Consultant for Advance Iowa. Prior to his current roles, his experience was in the asset management, venture capital and investment banking industries, most recently in business development and product management for RBC Dain Rauscher. Beenken has extensive experience working with early-stage firms on capital formation and exit strategies. He has also served as a business consultant at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and entrepreneurial management from Iowa State University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business.

7 Habits Cedar Valley Two-Day Workshop Helps Businesses Achieve Results

Leadership Training Event is November 28-29 in Cedar Falls

WATERLOO, IOWA (October 27, 2017) – Principles and practices taught during the 7 Habits Cedar Valley two-day leadership workshop help businesses and organizations achieve and sustain superior results by increasing the effectiveness of individual employees.

7 Habits Cedar Valley will be held 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm. on November 28 and 29 at Cedar Falls Public Works, 2200 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls. Lunch and snacks are provided both days.

Participants will gain hands-on experience, applying sound principles that yield higher productivity, improved communication, strengthened relationships, increased influence, and laser-like focus on critical priorities.

7 Habits Cedar Valley is sponsored by Leader Valley, a talent development initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. The workshop is based on Dr. Stephen Covey’s best-seller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Cost is $375 for one Alliance & Chamber investor or $1,875 for a table of six. Non-investors pay $450 for one participants or $2,700 for a table of six.

Reservation deadline is November 15. Reserve your seat online at cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling 319-232-1156.

Alliance & Chamber Hosts Business After Hours November 9 at Renovated Community Bank & Trust

RSVP by Nov. 1

WATERLOO, IOWA (October 26, 2017) – Investors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber can tour the recently renovated Community Bank & Trust building in downtown Waterloo during Business After Hours on November 9.

The event will be 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on November 9 at Community Bank & Trust, 422 Commercial Street, Waterloo.

Business After Hours is an opportunity for investors to network and experience various business locations throughout the Cedar Valley. Attendees learn special information and insight about the sponsoring business while socializing and enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Each event attracts more than 125 investors.

There is no cost to attend the event. Investors may RSVP by November 1 by contacting Bette Wubbena at bwubbena@cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling 319-232-1156.

Premier Sponsor is Community Bank & Trust. Gold Sponsors are CenturyLink and KWWL.

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

Letter of Support for Convention Center, Hotel Agreement

In a letter to Mayor Quentin Hart and Waterloo Council Members, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust outlines several reasons why the city should approve an agreement with developer Leslie Hospitality Company. “This agreement is beneficial to the city’s taxpayers, and should be seen as enabling a significant benefit to the Cedar Valley economy and your city’s image,” Dust writes.

Waterloo City Council members approved selling the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center to Leslie Hospitality Company on July 17.

Read Dust’s letter of support.

Jim Schaefer joins the Alliance & Chamber as Director of Investor Relations

Cedar Valley of Iowa (April 12, 2017) – The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is pleased
that Jim Schaefer has joined its’ professional team as Director of Investor Relations.

The Director of Investor Relations is primarily responsible for investor-member recruitment and retention.

“Jim is a strong advocate for the Cedar Valley,” says Steve Dust, Alliance & Chamber CEO, “He brings 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in business-to-business transactions, as well as a history of volunteering to make the Cedar Valley a stronger place.  Jim will be an integral part of delivering value to our existing and not-yet investors, and all businesses and institutions in the Cedar Valley economic area.”

Most recently, Schaefer was a Regional Territory Manager at Professional Office Services, Inc. (POS). He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, earning his B.A. in Political Science.  He resides in Waterloo with his wife, Kristin, and three children.  He will begin his work with the Alliance & Chamber on April 17, 2017.

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 or by calling Steve Dust, CEO at (319) 232-1156.

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