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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

Winnebago Completes Acquisition of Grand Design

The following information was submitted by our investor Winnebago Industries which has facilities in the Cedar Valley, located in Waverly, Iowa.

11/08/16 — Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WGO) today announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Grand Design RV, LLC (“Grand Design”), a manufacturer of towable recreation vehicles (RVs), for approximately $500 million in cash and Winnebago shares. The Company also entered into a seven-year $300 million term loan and five-year asset based lending facility for up to $125 million arranged by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

“We are pleased to complete this transformative transaction. The acquisition of Grand Design positions Winnebago Industries as an immediately stronger player in the RV market and will provide long-term value for our shareholders,” said Michael Happe, Winnebago’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited to welcome Grand Design into our portfolio and look forward to working with their talented team to exceed the expectations of our collective dealers and end customers.”

J.P. Morgan acted as financial advisor to Winnebago and Lindquist & Vennum LLP acted as legal counsel. Baird acted as financial advisor to Grand Design and Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP acted as legal counsel.

About Winnebago

Winnebago is a leading U.S. manufacturer of recreation vehicles, which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities. The Company builds quality motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheel products. Winnebago has received the Quality Circle Award from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association every year since 1996. Winnebago has multiple facilities in Iowa, Indiana, Oregon and Minnesota. The Company’s common stock is listed on the New York and Chicago Stock Exchanges and traded under the symbol WGO. Options for the Company’s common stock are traded on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. For access to Winnebago’s investor relations material or to add your name to an automatic email list for Company news releases, visit http://investor.wgo.net.

About Grand Design

Grand Design was founded in 2012 and is one of the fastest-growing RV companies in the industry. Since its founding, Grand Design has shipped 26,850 units and has sold over 22,250 units at retail. Grand Design manufactures the market leading Reflection fifth wheel and travel trailer, flagship Solitude extended stay fifth wheel, luxury Momentum toy hauler and lightweight Imagine travel trailer product lines.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from these statements, including, but not limited to increases in interest rates, availability of credit, low consumer confidence, availability of labor, significant increase in repurchase obligations, inadequate liquidity or capital resources, availability and price of fuel, a slowdown in the economy, increased material and component costs, availability of chassis and other key component parts, sales order cancellations, slower than anticipated sales of new or existing products, new product introductions by competitors, the effect of global tensions, integration of operations relating to mergers and acquisitions activities, any unexpected expenses related to ERP, risks relating to the integration of our acquisition of Grand Design including; risks inherent in the achievement of cost synergies and the timing thereof; risks related to the disruption of the transaction to Winnebago and Grand Design and its management; the effect of announcement of the transaction on Grand Design’s ability to retain and hire key personnel and maintain relationships with customers, suppliers and other third parties, risk related to compliance with debt covenants and leverage ratios, risks related to integration of the two companies and other factors. Additional information concerning certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from that projected or suggested is contained in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the last 12 months, copies of which are available from the SEC or from the Company upon request. The Company disclaims any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward looking statements contained in this release or to reflect any changes in the Company’s expectations after the date of this release or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based, except as required by law.

Cedar Valley Honored at Iowa Tourism Conference

The following was submitted by our Affiliate agencies, the Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau and Cedar Falls Tourism. These organizations in collaboration as Cedar Valley Tourism, and with the Alliance & Chamber to promote and maintain high-quality amenities that benefit visitors and residents alike.

Representatives from the Grout Museum District and Cedar Falls Community Main Street were honored at the Iowa Tourism Conference, held in Davenport.

Downtown Cedar Falls was honored as the state’s Outstanding Retail Experience and the Grout Museum’s Iowa Veterans Museum was honored as Iowa’s Outstanding Attraction and for Outstanding Marketing Collaboration.

Distinct features leading to the Main Street award include friendly store owners serving up memorable experiences from 30+ unique shops and boutiques and 20+ bars, cafes and restaurants. The charm of the area, endless events and creative strategies employed the Community Main Street to position the district as a great get away destination were also noted.

The Grout Museum District’s 365 & Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War exhibit enabled the Grout to capture the Attraction of the Year Award for the second time in five years. The Outstanding Marketing Collaboration was awarded for the partnership that was developed between the Grout and the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier for their Vietnam Veteran’s Profile features. The Grout provided content to reporters from the Voices of Iowa interview collection and the Courier featured 50 area Vietnam veterans, one each day, during the fall of 2015,  within the duration of the 365 & Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War exhibit. The features helped shine a light on the stories of the men and women who proudly served our county during one of the most controversial wars in history and also helped spread awareness about a powerful exhibit that educated the public and helped heal those who lived through it 50 years ago.

Tourism is an $8 billion industry in Iowa, employing 67,400 people statewide and generating more than $466.7 million in state taxes.  In Black Hawk County alone, visitors spent $351.7 million dollars.

 

cvtourism

Keith Rahe, Travel Federation of Iowa; Carol Lilly,  and Jessica Palmer, Cedar Falls Main Street; Kim Manning, Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau; Shawna Lode, Iowa Tourism Office.

GREATER CEDAR VALLEY ALLIANCE & CHAMBER TO HOLD FORUM ON WORKFORCE ISSUES

The Alliance & Chamber will host a forum to engage area business and institutions to address talent and workforce challenges in the Cedar Valley.  Addressing Workforce: Beyond the Numbers is for employers, educators, service organizations and other workforce partners to be held Thursday, September 29th from 7:30 -11:30am at the National Cattle Congress Pavilion, Waterloo.

Recent data compiled by the Alliance & Chamber projects that businesses in the Cedar Valley will need 12,000 additional workers in the next 10 years while, at the same time, the working-age population is expected to decrease.

During the forum, business leaders from a cross-section of industries will facilitate three separate discussion tracks. Human resource professionals, business managers from all industries, education leaders, and service providers who support business with workforce needs are encouraged to participate in the most relevant discussion track.

The three tracks include:

  1. Labor Force Participation (utilizing our existing population)
  2. Training & Education (training the future workforce)
  3. Talent Attraction & Retention (attracting new & retaining existing workforce)

The interactive format will provide opportunities for new connections, partnerships, peer-to-peer learning and a deeper understanding of how to collaborate in addressing our workforce needs for today and the future.

A light breakfast will be served at 7:30am.  The event is free. Registration is requested through the Alliance & Chamber website www.cedarvalleyalliance.com by September 16.

For more information on this event and the Talent Solutions initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber contact Danny Laudick by calling 319-232-1156 or by email to dlaudick@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

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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.

Confidence High in the Cedar Valley

IMG_1331

With building permits on the rise, new businesses opening, and investment being made in the Cedar Valley, Steve Dust, President and CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber says confidence is high in the Cedar Valley business community. Listen to Steve’s comments  in this June 21st interview with Tim Harwood on News Talk KXEL.

 

 

Learn more about the Midwest Supply Chain Managers Survey here.

Action Alert: Business Tax Coupling in Iowa Senate

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber encourages our investors and business owners in the Cedar Valley to contact  Senators and encourage them to pass the bill regarding Business Tax Coupling.
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is closely watching legislation that would allow coupling of Iowa state taxes with federal tax law under Section 179 to allow tax deductions for equipment purchased, certain investments made, and particular individual deductions claimed by businesses in 2015.

Here are some of the items that will not be eligible for a deduction on your Iowa taxes if the Iowa Senate does not act:

  • Small business equipment purchases (including business vehicles, computers and office furniture)
  • IRA contributions to charity
  • Gain from qualified small business stock
  • Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
  • Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
  • Educator expense deduction
  • Qualified tuition deduction
  • Conservation easement deductions
  • Deduction for food inventory contributions

The bill has already passed the Iowa House (House File 2092) and is now being considered by the Iowa Senate.  Please contact your Senator and encourage them to pass this bill that would couple state and federal tax policies to allow for these business deductions.

District 25 – Senator Bill Dix

bill.dix@legis.iowa.gov

District 26 – Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm

mary.jo.wilhelm@legis.iowa.gov

District 27 – Senator Amanda Ragan

amanda.ragan@legis.iowa.gov

District 30 – Senator Jeff Danielson

jeff.danielson@legis.iowa.gov

District 31 – Senator Bill Dotzler

bill.dotzler@legis.iowa.gov

District 32 – Senator Brian Schoenjahn

brian.schoenjahn@legis.iowa.gov

District 36 – Senator Steve Sodders

steve.sodders@legis.iowa.gov

District 38 – Senator Tim Kapucian

tim.kapucian@legis.iowa.gov

Unsure who to contact?   Find your district Senator here.

For more information, contact Steve Firman, Director of Government Relations.

Cedar Valley Business Education Partnerships Focus of ABI Connecting Statewide Leaders Event

Emily Schettler, Communications Coordinator, Iowa Association of Business and Industry

Business and education leaders from around the state will gather at Wartburg College on December 10th, to discuss the importance and value of partnerships between Iowa’s business community and educational institutions.

The forum is part of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s (ABI) Connecting Statewide Leaders discussion, which brings together experts from across Iowa to discuss important issues and present ideas.

Learn about two existing business education partnerships, Elevate Advanced Manufacturing and Leader Valley, as well as STEM initiatives taking place around the state.

Elevate Advanced Manufacturing is an ABI initiative focused on teaching students, parents and educators about the valuable career opportunities available in advanced manufacturing in Iowa. Leader Valley, a program of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, prepares students for life by providing them important life skills.

Panelists for Thursday’s forum include Michele Farrell, Elevate Iowa program manager; Teri Trask, Orange Elementary Principal and a member Leader Valley’s Leader in Me task force; Tom Penaluna of CBE Companies and Leader Valley; and Adriana Johnson, who works on STEM initiatives for Rockwell Collins. Steve Dust, president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will moderate the event.

The forum will take place at 11 a.m. in the McCaskey Lyceum at the Saemann Student Center on Wartburg’s campus. It will be followed by a networking lunch in the Hagemann Castle Room at the Saemann Student Center. Both events are open to the public. Those who are interested in attending can register here.

Mark your calendar for our upcoming Connecting Statewide Leaders forums:
March 3: Discussion on business and industry in Dubuque
April 7: Discussion on public safety in Council Bluffs

Asia Trade Delegation tour & briefing in the Cedar Valley

Alliance & Chamber Host Asia Export Experts

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will host members of the Iowa Economic Development Authority International Trade Offices (IEDA) for a familiarization tour on December 8, 2015.

The purpose of the IEDA Foreign Trade Team tour is to become acquainted with actively exporting manufacturers in the Cedar Valley Region. IEDA International Foreign Offices including China, Japan, Germany, Mexico, and Taiwan, assist Iowa companies with global market research, trade missions and trade shows. The tours of the Cedar Valley will focus on IEDA’s efforts to enhance export competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific markets, and to create more jobs in Iowa.

“More than 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S., accounting for 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power,” said Debi Durham, director of the IEDA. “Exporting is important to Iowa’s economy because it results in new jobs right here in our state.”

The day will include a tour of the TechWorks Campus with a demonstration of the 3D sandcast printer located in University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Center Additive Manufacturing Lab, and tours of United Equipment Accessories and CPM Roskamp.

United Equipment Accessories, located in Waverly, custom engineers and designs slip rings, hydraulic swivels, cable reels and shift controls for electronics applications. CPM Roskamp, located in Waterloo, is a designer and manufacturer of pelleting and particle size reduction equipment and automation systems for the animal feed milling and oilseed processing, pet food, ethanol and super absorbent polymer industries. Both companies export products.

The Alliance & Chamber will host an Asia Executive Briefing & Market Overview at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo from 3:00 – 4:30 pm. Companies already exporting to Asia are encouraged to attend for the latest market briefing.   “IEDA’s international experts will provide the latest information on growing market opportunities in China, Japan and Taiwan,” said Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber.   “Companies interested in export opportunities to Asia markets are welcome to attend to learn about current market conditions and establish network relationships with IEDA’s International Foreign Offices,” Dust added.

“Cedar Valley exports totaled $362 million in 2014 including machinery, processed foods, agriculture commodities, fabricated metal products and more with opportunity for growth,’’ explains Dust. “We provide these opportunities to educate and connect our businesses to international markets because exports are important to the growth and diversity of the Cedar Valley economy.”

The Alliance & Chamber will announce details of its second Global Familiarization Tour to China scheduled for October 2016.

Following the briefing, the Alliance & Chamber will hold its annual Legislative Reception & Networking event. The IEDA International Trade Office representatives and Cedar Valley Legislative Delegation will be present for casual meetings and conversation.

For more information about the IEDA International Trade Office familiarization tour of the Cedar Valley, contact Lisa Skubal, Vice President of Economic Development, Alliance & Chamber, lskubal@cedarvalleyalliance.com. Register for the Asia Executive Briefing & Market Overview through the Alliance & Chamber web-site’s event calendar at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.
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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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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