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Tag Archives: Leader Valley

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.

Public is Invited to Help Create Great in Cedar Valley Schools

Fundraising Campaign Kicks Off to Fund The Leader in Me

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) – Leader Valley, a talent development initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, is asking businesses, individuals and foundations to join in the efforts to equip every student in the Cedar Valley with tools for effectiveness in life and work.  The Create Great fundraising campaign seeks to raise $7 million for the expansion and sustainability of The Leader in Me throughout the Cedar Valley.

The Create Great Campaign will officially kick off at the Alliance & Chamber’s annual New Teachers Breakfast on Aug. 18 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., at Hilton Garden Inn, Cedar Falls.

“Our ultimate goal is for students to be prepared for career, college and citizenship,” says Dr. Linda Allen, president, Hawkeye Community College. “Our businesses here in the Cedar Valley will no doubt see a difference in these young people as they come to work for them. In order to become principled and effective adults, we must foster both character and competence early in the lives of our students.”

Over $1.8 million has already been raised toward the $3.5 million implementation portion of the overall goal. The aim of the Create Great campaign is to extend The Leader in Me’s impact from 21 Cedar Valley schools to 34. This will include PreK-12 public and private schools in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. An equal goal of $3.5 million will be raised and placed in an endowment to ensure the sustainability of the initiative for future generations.              

Serving as campaign co-chairs are: Dr. Allen; Dr. Dale Monroe, Chief Administrator, Cedar Valley Catholic Schools; and Tom Penaluna, CEO, CBE Companies. Senator Charles Grassley is the Honorary Campaign Chair.                                               

The Leader in Me aims to fill the gap between traditional school curriculum, and the skills and knowledge employers need in effective employees and organizational leaders. By addressing characteristics and skills such as personal responsibility, accountability, work ethic, teamwork, goal setting, and organization skills, Leader Valley’s investment seeks to enhance the Cedar Valley talent pool and help local businesses become more competitive in the global marketplace.

The campaign kickoff program includes an emphasis on student leadership and empowerment with students serving in leadership roles as emcees, greeters and The Leader in Me booth hosts. Additionally, inspirational comments from business and education leaders will be presented. Current donors to Create Great will also be recognized.

“We are excited to kick off this important fundraising campaign to transform our schools by integrating leadership development and performance into all facets of school cultures in every PreK-12 school in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area,” said Penaluna. “We encourage business leaders and community members to attend our kickoff event and learn why Leader in Me is a critical element for a well-rounded education to develop the workforce our businesses need. If we wish to Create Great in our Cedar Valley schools, we all have a role.”

Tickets for the event are $40 in advance. Ticket price provides breakfast for one individual and a complimentary breakfast for one new teacher. Please register through the Alliance & Chamber website www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or by contacting Johanna Kneedler at 319-232-1156 or jkneedler@cedarvalleyalliance.com.  Administrators and new teachers do not need to register, but should make arrangements with their respective districts.

The impact and results of The Leader in Me can be found on the Leader Valley website, www.leadervalley.org, along with videos, testimonials and donor information. The fundraising steering committee for Create Great is: Stacey Bentley, Joyce Coil, Bryan Earnest, Chris Fereday, Ben Jacobson, Bob Justis, Reid Koenig, Shanlee McNally, Dr. Victoria Robinson, Tara Thomas, Amy Wienands and Mike Young.

For more information on the Leader Valley initiative and The Leader in Me, contact Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director at the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber by calling 319-232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com. You can also visit www.leadervalley.org.

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Read more by reporter Andrew Wind in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

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

University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College to Introduce Leader in Me and Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

WATERLOO, November 2015— Leader Valley, a talent development initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, is excited to announce an opportunity for pre-service teachers from both Hawkeye Community College and UNI’s Teacher Education programs. Led by the University of Northern Iowa, Hawkeye Community College, and Leader Valley, the Leader In Me Workshop will be held Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 8:30-12:00 p.m. at UNI’s Maucker Union.

During the workshop, soon-to-be teachers will have the opportunity to not only learn about Leader in Me, but also how to integrate the 7 Habits into their own lives as college students and future educators. The 7 Habits are vital to being an effective person and possessing the 21st Century skills that employers are seeking in the workforce. The college students in attendance will hear first-hand from education and community leaders, local PreK-12 school administrators, and see student leadership first hand.

“This workshop represents the wonderful connections that exist in the Cedar Valley,” says Dr. Terri Lasswell, Head of the Department of Teaching at the University of Northern Iowa. “What a great way for us to model collaboration for our future teachers.” Catharine Freeman, Dean of Communication, Humanities, Education, and Fine Arts at Hawkeye Community College, concurs. Freeman says, “We value the partnership that has developed with UNI and Leader Valley, because we are jointly preparing students to make a profound difference as teacher leaders in our Cedar Valley schools as they put theory into practice.”

Leader Valley Director Melissa Reade says, “This workshop is the result of Habit 6 in action, synergy at its best. It’s exciting for our community and schools when faculty from UNI and Hawkeye can come together with PreK-12 administrators to present an exciting opportunity like this for our future educators,” says Reade. “It’s a ‘win-win’ for all involved, which happens to be Habit 4.”

The Leader Valley talent initiative, born out of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s priority to develop a strong workforce and to strengthen business and education collaboration, has been formed to expand the reach of leadership and 21st Century soft skill development opportunities to all students in the Cedar Valley. Nineteen Cedar Valley schools are already implementing Leader in Me in their buildings, with more schools anticipated to follow across the Cedar Valley.

For more information on Leader in Me and other Leader Valley talent initiatives of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, contact Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director, at 319-232-1156 or by visiting www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

 

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Cedar Valley receives 2015 Community of Character Award

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and Leader Valley congratulate Cedar Valley Character Counts and the Cedar Valley region of northeast Iowa for being honored by the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University as its 2015 Community of Character.

The Ray Center, formerly known as Character Counts in Iowa, issues the Community of Character award annually to an Iowa community that has developed an active task force and comprehensive, sustained community-wide initiative to support good character and has integrated character development throughout the community.

A CHARACTER COUNTS! in the Cedar Valley committee has developed synergistic partnerships with groups in the Cedar Valley area, including the University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa Youth Sports Initiative, to promote the Six Pillars of Character—trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

“The values promoted by Cedar Valley Character Counts are helping to instill leadership qualities in students throughout the Cedar Valley,” says Dr. Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director. ” We are fortunate in the Cedar Valley to have organizations like this who care about preparing our students to live a life of leadership and success.”

Cedar Valley representatives received the honor during the 2015 Iowa Character Awards Dinner on Friday, July 31, at Prairie Meadows Event Center in Altoona. A volunteer selection committee of nearly 50 members selected the community for the award.

The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University promotes leadership, civility, and ethics through applied research, programming, training, and scholarly publications.

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ORANGE ELEMENTARY NAMED LIGHTHOUSE SCHOOL

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) – WATERLOOOrange Elementary has been designated by FranklinCovey as only the second Lighthouse School in Iowa.

FranklinCovey visited Orange last week to confirm Leader in Me has been implemented as a whole school transformational model. It involves academics, leadership and a culture where you can see, hear and feel the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

“Our entire learning community (students, staff & parents) are honored and proud to be

chosen as a Lighthouse School. The keys to our mission, to educate, inspire and lead – make the world a better place, have been brought to life on this journey,” says Orange Principal, Teri Trask, “It has been exciting to be a part of the culture shift as we see students empowered through authentic leadership opportunities.”

Orange is now one of only 123 Lighthouse Schools in the world. The official announcement will be made at the Leader in MeR Symposium at UNI this week where Sean Covey, Senior Vice President of Innovations and Products at FranklinCovey will address educators and congratulate Orange on their achievement.

Orange will have a special celebration when the banner is presented.

The Leader in MeR Lighthouse School title is awarded by FranklinCovey to honor the attainment of a well-rounded leadership model. Lighthouse Schools serve as models of leadership and mentors to other schools by meeting these standards:

  •     Lighthouse Team
  •     Leadership Environment
  •     Integrated Curriculum and Instruction
  •     Staff Collaboration
  •     Student Leadership
  •     Parent & Community Engagement
  •    Leadership Events
  •    Goal Tracking

Currently, there are 122 Lighthouse Schools internationally which serve as models of leadership and mentors to other schools. Orange Elementary is the first Cedar Valley school to receive the designation, the second of the forty-four participating schools in Iowa.

Orange Elementary is one of the first 17 schools implementing the Leader in MeR through the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s Leader Valley initiative. Leader Valley is the talent development initiative of the Alliance & Chamber. Leader Valley’s primary focus is implementation of Leader in Me across school districts in the Cedar Valley. The Leader in Me R, based on the Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is creating leadership cultures in schools and instilling 21st Century soft skills of effectiveness in Cedar Valley students.

Trask adds that she believes the Cedar Valley will be celebrating more Lighthouse Schools in the near future thanks to the support of the Leader Valley.  “We truly appreciate the positive synergizing with so many other Cedar Valley schools who are focused on improving academics, leadership and culture and empowering students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st Century. Leadership is definitely a TEAM SPORT in the Cedar Valley! ” says Trask.

For more information on Orange Elementary and the Waterloo Schools implementation of the Leader in Me, contact Tara Thomas, Communications Director by email to thomast@waterlooschools.org.

For more information on Leader Valley initiative and the Leader in MeR, contact Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director at the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber by calling (319)232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com. You can also visit

www.leadervalley.org.

 

 

 

 

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Nationally Recognized Education Reformer, Geoffrey Canada to Speak to Cedar Valley Business Leaders & Educators

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, in partnership with FranklinCovey’s 2015 Leader in Me Symposium, invites business leaders and educators to an opportunity to synergize as author and children’s advocate Geoffrey Canada brings a keynote address on education reform. Mr. Canada’s speech is the keynote presentation of the FranklinCovey’s 2015 Leader in Me Symposium.

The presentation will take place on April 24, 2015, at 2:30PM in Lang Hall Auditorium on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls.  The cost for the event is $25.00. Registrations for the keynote event are being taken through the Alliance & Chamber website, cedarvalleyalliance.com, or by calling the Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156.

The opportunity to hear Canada’s presentation is made possible through Leader Valley, a talent development initiative of the Alliance & Chamber. Leader Valley’s primary focus is implementation of Leader in Me across school districts in the Cedar Valley. The Leader in Me, based on the Steven CCovey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is creating leadership cultures in schools and instilling 21st Century soft skills of effectiveness in Cedar Valley students. The unprecedented scope and success of the Cedar Valley initiative has drawn attention from FranklinCovey who chose this area for one of 18 regional symposiums. Symposiums are traditionally held in larger cities. Cedar Valley Leader in Me schools will be showcased to educators from around the Midwest during the three day event at the University of Northern Iowa with tours and demonstrations across the Cedar Valley April 22-24.

For more information about the Leader in Me Symposium, visit www.theleaderinme.org/events/symposium. You can also learn more by contacting Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director at the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber by calling (319)232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

The Alliance & Chamber is taking registration for Geoffrey Canada’s keynote session only. Registration to this session does not provide access to any other portions of the Leader in Me Symposium. To register for the Iowa Symposium, please visit http://www.theleaderinme.org/events/symposium.

 

 

 

About Geoffrey Canada

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

Since 1990, Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In October 2005, Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by US News and World Report.

The work of Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Charlie Rose Show, and NPR’s On Point, as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and Newsday. Most recently, Canada can be seen prominently featured in the Davis Guggenheim documentary Waiting for Superman.

Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he was able to succeed academically, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a Master’s in Education from the Harvard School of Education. After graduating from Harvard, Canada decided to work to help children who, like himself, were disadvantaged by their lives in poor, embattled neighborhoods.

 

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The Cedar Valley Economy – Strong and Growing!

The Cedar Valley Economy – Strong and Growing!

The strong and growing Cedar Valley economy contains the right conditions for business and career success. Current economic growth and its demand for quality talent is benefiting manufacturing, business services, retail, housing, education, healthcare and other enterprises that contribute to the vitality of the region.

Strong Cedar Valley job market is creating opportunity and raising income.

According to Smart Solutions Group, employment in the Cedar Valley Region Labor Market grew by 7.4% from 2003 to 2013, slightly above the State of Iowa during the same period. As of November 1st, Iowajobs.org, the web-based job board of Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), shows 1,504 positions currently available in the Cedar Valley. Many of these jobs are in the advanced manufacturing sector. Welders and CNC operators are among the many positions available in advanced manufacturing operations in the Cedar Valley.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber recently surveyed Cedar Valley employers regarding their immediate employment needs. “We’ve identified businesses in the Cedar Valley region with immediate openings,” reports Danny Laudick, Talent Solutions Coordinator with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.  “We are coordinating efforts to match available talent with these companies or with training in the fields where there is greatest demand.”
Connecting to training

The Alliance & Chamber collaborates with Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) and Hawkeye Community College (HCC) and other agencies to connect talent with employment and training opportunities through career and resource fairs, data collection and sharing.  There is ongoing collaboration between employers and agencies to design programs to stay ahead of shifts in demand and provide rapid response to immediate workforce needs. The Alliance & Chamber identifies the specific employment needs in the Cedar Valley business community and acts as the voice of business. The Alliance & Chamber develops innovative solutions to solve talent issues. They use their network of partners and affiliate to bring others into the process.

In response to local demand, Hawkeye Community College now offers short term certifications for industrial maintenance and CNC machining programs. The CNC Machining Program prepares students for high demand, entry-level positions as a CNC machine operator or general machinist, one of the most demanded skills by area employers in the Cedar Valley. Both programs are designed to create a pipeline of available talent with new skills to fill these high demand jobs in a short amount of time.

The Department of Industrial Technology at the University of Northern Iowa also offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the areas of: Construction Management; Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing Technology, Technology Education, and Technology Management. The UNI Metal Casting Center, offers students practical hands-on experience in concepts in additive manufacturing with modern well-equipped facilities and cutting edge technology. At the Additive Manufacturing Center, located at the Cedar Valley TechWorks, students operate a variety of 3D printers, including the ExOne, the largest of its kind in North America.  Students are producing products and part prototypes for manufacturing clients across state.  UNI students are ‘floor ready’ upon graduation having had real world experience working with private sector businesses on actual projects. The Center also provides manufacturers affordable access to research and development and rapid prototyping. The Department of Industrial Technology currently enrolls over 500 students annually.

K-12 Career Training

Cedar Valley school districts are making sure their students are prepare for success beyond graduation through a variety of initiatives and partnerships with the business community.

In the Waterloo Community School District, Career Academies give students the opportunity to choose an area of interest, such as construction, business and finance, marketing, engineering, healthcare, etc. Students then take a sequence of classes to prepare for the real world of work in that field. Waterloo also has an International Baccalaureate Program which is an intensive, two year academic program in the high schools that prepares students for success in higher education and for effective participation in global society. The program includes writing an extended essay (similar to a doctorate thesis, but at high school level), a focus on critical thinking as well as creativity, action, and service activities. Waterloo’s West High and East High are two of only three schools in Iowa to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

Both the Waterloo and Cedar Falls school districts have embraced the Leader in Me initiative championed by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. The Leader in Me is based on Stephen Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The initiative teaches students 21st Century soft skills for success in college, career, and citizenship. Through authentic leadership opportunities and daily practice of the habits, participating schools are transforming their school cultures into proactive, leadership focused communities of learning and development.

Cedar Valley West’s School to Work program brings together students from four Cedar Valley school districts (Aplington-Parkersburg, Dike-New Hartford, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, and Grundy Center) to provide valuable career information and connections to area businesses. Businesses are asked to provide speakers, offer internship and job shadowing opportunities, give worksite tours and contribute financial support.

Through the School to Work program, students throughout the Cedar Valley are becoming more prepared for the local job market. Businesses are molding potential employees by creating hands-on ways for students to explore careers while still in high school. Business – education partnerships like these are helping to bridge the talent gap and produce individuals prepared for employers across sectors in the Cedar Valley.

Diverse Economic Base
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and the Cedar Valley Regional Partners have placed diversifying the economic base as a top priority of business attraction . . . and it has paid off. The diversified economic base has created jobs and helped the region weather the last recession far better than most parts of the country earning the Cedar Valley the title “Recession Busting” by Area Development Magazine, a leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection.  The Cedar Valley is not reliant on one sector to maintain the health of the economy.

Since 1996, 76% of new jobs created in the Cedar Valley have not been tied to a single industry, specifically agricultural manufacturing. Likewise, 81% of the new capital investments in the Cedar Valley were equally diversified during the same time. This diverse industrial base provides increased opportunities for wealth creation and employment in the event of a downturn in one sector.

“Most new capital investment has come from companies who have expanded existing operations here or established new locations in a broad spectrum of industry sector. This is consistent with new construction and new jobs created,” notes Lisa Skubal, Vice President of Economic Development with the Alliance & Chamber.

Adding to the industry mix is the growing Information Technology (IT) sector. In the Cedar Valley, IT consists of local start-up web product and software companies, and is among the fastest growing sector in percentage of current workforce in the Cedar Valley market area. Enterprises also see internal IT operations increasing and contributing to the growing demand for highly skilled programmers, engineers, coders, and designers in the Cedar Valley.

Conversations with technology leaders in the Cedar Valley suggest that IT employers are increasing their employment by up to 50% or more over the next few years.  This makes availability of trained/educated individuals critical. The Alliance & Chamber, Kate Washut of Far Reach Inc., and Linda Allen of Hawkeye Community College (HCC) convened a discussion between Alliance & Chamber investors in the IT sector and HCC academic and career education teams. The group discussed courses, training, and programs available through Hawkeye, and the expectations of the employers. Dialogs like this, between business and education, are vital to better understand of specific skill demand in order to offer training programs that are most relevant to industry needs.

 

“The strong job market is creating opportunities for individuals to take advantage of an increase in training opportunities and raising personal income,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. “We see growing demand across industry sectors. IT related fields, advanced manufacturing, higher education, healthcare, logistics, and business service markets make up the employment landscape of the Cedar Valley.  The competitive wage scales being offered go much further here than in most areas of the country thanks to our low cost of living.”

The cost of living in the Cedar Valley is 8.1% lower than the national average according to third quarter 2014 Cost of Living Index prepared by The Council for Community and Economic Research. Utility costs are an even greater value, at 10.4% below the national average – a key factor for companies looking to locate or expand their operations.

While the cost of living is low, prosperity is on the rise in Cedar Valley. According to the new US Cluster Mapping website launched by Harvard Business School and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Cedar Valley Region is one of a handful of regions with growth in prosperity from 1998 -2012. Our economic region ranks 7th among 170 economic regions in the country for prosperity growth. The scorecard is based on three categories of data: performance (the economic activities of the region), business environment, and demographics & geography. The Cedar Valley is also in the top 20 regions for growth in annual personal wages at 3.49%.  This outpaces the national average of 3.16% during the same period.

Low cost of living and strong personal wages may contribute to an increase in spending. In September of 2014, the latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers were released showing considerable growth in the Cedar Valley. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (GDP) grew to $8.7 billion from 2012-2013. This is up 5.6% from the previous year, according to data released in September from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Collectively, real GDP for U.S. metropolitan areas increased 1.7% during the same period. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area had the second highest percentage increase in GDP compared to other Iowa metros.

These gauges of economic health demonstrate the strength and continued growth of an already stable Cedar Valley economy and instill confidence both in consumers and business leaders. Recent announcements of business expansions reflect confidence and optimism in the region.

Business Confidence and Private Investment

Cedar Valley businesses across the region are making investments in their companies. Increasing exports, and hiring talented, productive people demonstrates their confidence in the strength of the Cedar Valley economy.

CBE Companies, with international locations, chooses to keep their corporate headquarters here in the Cedar Valley where their success started over 80 years ago. “We continue to tap into a rich talent pool in our own backyard to fill a variety of positions and levels – from contact center associates to fraud service representatives to IT, Analytics, Finance, Marketing and HR professionals,” says Mary Phillips, Chief Human Resources Officer for CBE Companies.

Based on a variety of regional data, CBE has determined that the Cedar Valley has the talent resources available to expand their staff considerably.  “We use information from both the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and Iowa Workforce Development when considering expansion.  We evaluated unemployment rates, education levels, Spanish speaking population, underemployment, average wages, and average ages.”  Over the last year, CBE has had two major surges in hiring making them one of the top ten major employers in the Cedar Valley.

Mark Hanawalt is the CEO of United Equipment Accessories, Inc. (UEA) in Waverly, Iowa and the current chair of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI). He often shares with peers from around the state that the Cedar Valley is a great place to do business. “They know about the Cedar Valley and never disagree,” notes Hanawalt. UEA has found that being part of a regional economy driven by advanced manufacturing has contributed to their growth. “Because of the presence of very large manufacturers in the area, we can utilize a common vendor base with tremendous capabilities without having to go outside the area.”

UEA invests in training and development opportunities that contribute to the personal and professional growth of their employees.  UEA provides training for new hires, development opportunities with specifically designed skills enhancement training, job cross-training, as well as a Tuition Assistance Program for employees. Highly technical positions, such as CNC programmers, machinists, engineers and IT professionals regularly participate in training opportunities relating to technology advancements and developments, job knowledge enhancement, computer software and system developments and updates.

“United Equipment Accessories, Inc. has been a Cedar Valley manufacturer for over 60 years.  Even as we have grown substantially over the years, we have never felt the need to expand outside this area,” says Hanawalt. “Our pool of labor talent is very high.  Employees are well educated, trained, and motivated to be productive employees.”

Start-up Momentum

While long standing businesses continue to expand, the start-up community in the Cedar Valley is picking up momentum at a rapid pace. ‘Serial’ entrepreneurs and young visionaries are gathering in coffee shops, bars, and meeting rooms around the Cedar Valley to share ideas and connect with resources in hopes of launching the next big thing. Start-Up Drinks, Start-Up Weekend, BarCamp, One Million Cups, Cedar Valley Opencoffee, and Cedar Valley Makers are a few of the organized efforts to support a young and energetic start-up community.

Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber, believes that “the prosperity of the Cedar Valley still depends on fostering, growing, and attracting entrepreneurship in all types of businesses. We want to encourage more people to build on our history of successful entrepreneurship, and the Alliance & Chamber supports efforts to enhance the strong, growing start-up scene throughout the Cedar Valley economic area.”

The Cedar Valley is thriving

With an abundance of good paying jobs and access to higher education, the Cedar Valley offers a wealth of opportunities for individuals to grow their careers. Businesses are thriving and making significant investments in the region by expanding their operations through building projects, new processes, equipment, technology, and talent. The lower cost of living, excellent school districts, and overall safety make it a desirable place to live, work, and raise a family.

The mission of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is to increase economic vitality and wealth by leading collaborative economic and community development. 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.

Alliance & Chamber Launches New Website to Showcase Leadership in Cedar Valley Schools

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is pleased to announce the launch of a new website, leadervalley.org. This new resource features the Leader in Me initiative that is transforming leadership cultures in Cedar Valley schools.  The Leader in Me is a whole school education transformation process that teaches leadership principles to students in K-12 schools and embeds leadership as a core within their school culture. Leader in Me was developed by corporate and personal leadership trainer Franklin-Covey.

The site and a series of new videos, created in partnership with Mudd Advertising, highlight Cedar Valley students, business leaders, and educators and the impact of Leader in Me in Cedar Valley schools.

Business leaders will see how Leader in Me is investing in tomorrow’s workforce and helping to build a stronger pool of talent.  Examples of how 21st century soft skills are being infused into the school culture are detailed on the site, as well as demonstrations of how authentic leadership opportunities are preparing students to be effective in college, career, and citizenship.

Statistics demonstrating the impact Leader in Me is having in the Cedar Valley is an important component of the site, along with an events calendar, latest news, and testimonials from educators and community leaders. There are also valuable resources for educators, information for parents and community members, and pages that include student leadership projects and stories.

“This new website really is a showcase of the Leader the Me in the Cedar Valley. It is the one place you can see all the exciting things taking place in all of our schools. The amazing student leaders are really the highlight of the site,” says Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director. “We believe that once you go to the site, you will understand the significant role Leader in Me has in the future of the Cedar Valley.”

The Leader Valley talent initiative, born out of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s priority to develop a strong workforce has been formed to expand the reach of leadership and 21st Century skill and leadership development opportunities to all students in the Cedar Valley. The Leader in Me is the primary focus of Leader Valley. For more information, visit the new website at www.leadervalley.org or contact Melissa Reade at (319)232-1156 or mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.
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CUNA Mutual Group’s Waverly Philanthropy Committee Presents Donation to first Waverly Leader in Me School -St. John’s Lutheran

St. Paul’s Lutheran School is the first school in Waverly to show interest in the “Leader in Me” program. With the success of this program in several Cedar Valley schools and the belief that this program will facilitate strong working partnerships between Cedar Valley businesses, educators, parents and students in each community in which Leader Valley is organized, CUNA Mutual Group hopped on board. On May 29th, CUNA Mutual Group’s Waverly Philanthropy Committee presented a generous donation to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church & School, sponsoring the implementation of the Leader in Me program into the school’s curriculum.

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