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Tag Archives: Iowa Business Council

What a Day!

By Steve Dust, President/CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

You have probably seen that commercial for an insurance company where, after a great day for a young woman receiving a new car and an equally dismal day for a man whose car tires have been stolen, both exclaim, “What a day!”

That’s how I felt on Tuesday, July 11 as spent four hours traveling to and from Des Moines to attend a three-hour meeting.

Usually, I wouldn’t attend a meeting outside the Cedar Valley on the day of an Alliance & Chamber board meeting, never mind our annual meeting. But I broke that rule for the Future Ready Iowa Alliance board meeting because it meets so infrequently, its planning work is nearing the end, and important implementation actions soon follow.

“What a day!” I repeated to myself the entire trip. Initially, I focused on missing hours of prep time for the Alliance & Chamber annual meeting. Then the people I encountered completely turned my day around.

  • Ben Allen, former University of Northern Iowa president and current interim Iowa State University president, was the first person I encountered. It was good to see an old friend and champion of the Cedar Valley. That was worth the trip, I thought.
  • Mike Ralston, President of Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and I walked in together. We always have a lot to compare notes on, but he emphasized that a recent ABI social media post attracted the largest number of views, interactions, and reposts his organization had experienced. The post featured the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presenting U.S. Rep Rod Blum with its Spirit of Enterprise Award; the Alliance & Chamber co-hosted the event at the TDS Automation/Doerfer plant in Waverly.
  • Hawkeye Community College President Linda Allen is one of eight on the board from various Cedar Valley sectors. As we were getting yet another cup of coffee, she talked to me about another potential partnership between Hawkeye and a local major employer, implemented at TechWorks Campus. She is pumped about the opportunity. (Now, all we need is money).
  • As the program began, Georgia Van Gundy, CEO of Iowa Business Council, gave a shout out to the Cedar Valley’s aggressive programming to retain, recruit, and prepare talent to fuel economic growth. Unexpected and appreciated. (IBC’s members are Iowa’s largest 20+/- employers, the three regent universities, and bankers’ association.)
  • While walking back to my table from the coffee urn, President Liang Chee Wee of Northeast Iowa Community College got up from his table to greet me with his characteristic smile. He told me, “I’m a fan of all you’re doing in the Cedar Valley!” That’s all of you: I just happened to be in the spot to catch the compliment.
  • It was good to see Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham simply because of health challenges she has been managing – with her typical “I’m not getting beat” approach, of course. But then she highly complimented the work of the Alliance & Chamber Economic Development team working on a particular project. I thanked her for taking extraordinary steps to ensure the opportunity to win.
  • Governor Kim Reynolds’ Deputy Chief of Staff Tim Albrecht is a recent graduate of ABI’s Leadership Iowa, the same class for which Leader Valley‘s Melissa Reade was a co-director. Tim thanked me for the time given Melissa to fulfill that role. She said, “Without Melissa there, it would not have been the amazing experience we had.” That is quite a compliment.
  • During the meeting, I sat with UNI Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Wohlpart. He has a goal to ensure the Future Ready Iowa initiatives to increase the percentage of Iowan’s with post-high school educational/career prep credentials are effectively implemented in the Cedar Valley economic area. Jim frequently moved our small-group discussion toward the need for local strategies to implement the statewide framework. His enthusiasm is contagious. I’m glad to have such a motivated leader making a difference for the workforce and employers of the Cedar Valley.

By the end of the meeting, I was saying, “What a day!” but for an entirely different reason than during my morning drive.

I had been reminded that the Cedar Valley generally, and our Alliance & Chamber especially, have many talented people effectively and proactively implementing meaningful projects to make our region even greater – and that effort recognized statewide.

Economic Indicators Continue To Improve


DES MOINES, IOWA – June 1, 2012.  Expected levels of sales, capital spending, and employment for Iowa’s largest employers have all improved as business leaders express a positive economic outlook for

the coming six months.  The 2012Q2 Iowa Business Council (IBC) Overall Economic Outlook Survey Index (OSI) rose to 68.3 – two points higher than three months ago (66.3) and three points ahead of this time last year (65.3).  This represents a historic high for the Outlook Survey Index, surpassing the previous OSI standard of 66.7 set in 2011Q1.  The 2012Q2 survey was completed by 20 of the corporate members of the Iowa Business Council during the second half of May, the results of which were released today.


The 2012Q2 Sales OSI is 73, two points higher than last quarter (71) and four points better than one year ago (69).  One hundred percent of the CEOs expect steady or increased sales over the next six months – substantially higher (20%), higher (50%), or no change (30%).  Zero percent of survey respondents expect sales levels to decrease – lower (0%) or substantially lower (0%).


The 2012Q2 Capital Spending OSI is 69, which is two points above last quarter (67) and five points higher than the 2011Q2 survey (64).  Ninety-five percent of IBC corporate members expect steady or increased capital spending levels through November 2012 – substantially higher (25%), higher (30%), or no change (40%).  Five percent of survey respondents expect capital spending, i.e., investments in facilities and equipment, to decrease – lower (5%) or substantially lower (0%).


The 2012Q2 Employment OSI is 63, two points ahead of three months ago (61) and the same as this time last year (63).  This result matches the Outlook Survey Index high for Employment of 63 first set in 2008Q1 and equaled again in 2011Q2.  Ninety percent expect hiring levels for the next six months to remain steady or grow – substantially higher (10%), higher (40%), or no change (40%).  Ten percent expect employment needs to decrease – lower (10%) or substantially lower (0%).


“Iowa business leaders are clearly experiencing an improving economy and have a positive outlook.  This bodes well for Iowa companies and their respective supply chains and employees,” said Stan Askren, the Chairman, President, and CEO of HNI Corporation in Muscatine, and 2012 Chair of the Iowa Business Council.


The Economic Outlook Survey is conducted quarterly by the Iowa Business Council to informIowabusinesses and Iowans about projected trends in the state’s economy, which may prove useful for business and economic planning purposes.


The Iowa Business Council (IBC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose 24 members are the top executives of 20 of the largest businesses in the state, the three Regent university presidents, and Iowa’s largest banking association.  Founded in 1985, the Council’s purpose is to focus the personal commitment of its members in active leadership roles on major initiatives that offer opportunity to enhance Iowa’s economic vitality and improve the lives of Iowans.  Council members identify economic issues, evaluate options, and assist in implementing solutions through collaborative public/private partnerships.  Collectively, these companies and institutions employ over a quarter million Iowans and have committed billions of dollars in capital investment to the state.  On an annual basis, several hundred million dollars in financial contributions and thousands of volunteer hours are directed to numerous charitable causes around Iowa.  IBC members also lead in technology innovation with billions of dollars spent and grants procured for research and development.  The Business Council focuses its efforts primarily in areas related to advanced technology, continuous process improvement, economic and workforce development, education excellence, health care and wellness, and operations continuity and security.  Its representation reaches across the state – from borders north and south to rivers east and west.  For more information, please visit the IBC Web site at www.iowabusinesscouncil.org.










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