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Tag Archives: Sandi Sommerfelt

ALLIANCE & CHAMBER PREPARES TO MOVE TO TECHWORKS CAMPUS

Cedar Valley of Iowa – “It only makes sense that our offices are located in TechWorks”, emphasizes Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust, “we are inseparable partners in Cedar Valley economic development, and TechWorks is attracting tenants that we want to be near.” Dust shows his enthusiasm when talking about the new offices under construction, and to be occupied by the organizations he leads. The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is moving their office to the second floor of the Tech 1 Building on the campus operated by the Alliance & Chamber subsidiary, TechWorks Campus.

The 6,000 square feet of space will be occupied by the professional staff of 15 full-time, part-time, and contracted team members. The organizations located there include the Alliance & Chamber and its subsidiaries TechWorks and Leader Valley Foundation, as well as affiliated Cedar Valley Manufacturers Network and Cedar Valley Innovation Network.

Occupying space in TechWorks makes a lot of sense from a number of angles, and supports the work of the regional development, business promotion, and civic leadership organization. The Alliance & Chamber moves to space they have been deeply involved in for over a decade. The new space is immediately above the growing UNI Additive Manufacturing Center and the Design Lab collaboratively managed by Hawkeye Community College and UNI. The Alliance & Chamber space is one floor below the Cedar Valley Makerspace and offices available. And it is immediately next door to the new mixed-use Green@TechWorks project, opening a Courtyard by Marriott, conference center, and themed restaurant during mid-year. John Deere will open its new training center in The Green during the same time frame.

The growth of the riverfront and US 63 corridor fits nicely in the decision to build in Tech 1. “A decade ago when TechWorks began its redevelopment work,” Dust said, “the Campus was in the middle of nothing. Now, it’s central to one of the most active development districts in the Midwest.” He continues, “in addition to everything happening and about to happen on-campus, we’re next to the new Grand Crossing mixed-use project on the former Grand Hotel site, down the street from the new SingleSpeed brewery and restaurant; near all the riverfront amenities and new housing. We’re also right next to the new Hawkeye Urban Campus building. There will be as much collaboration between Tech 1 building users and the Urban Campus as there will be between the Marriott and nearby Cedar Valley SportsPlex, in my view.” concludes Dust.

The new space itself is a fresh change for the Alliance & Chamber. It’s designed in an open style, with minimal enclosed offices and a maximum of collaboration spaces. “We toured a lot of office layouts in new and old structures,” says Alliance & Chamber Vice President of Operations & General Manager Sandi Sommerfelt, “and it gave us a lot of guidance on best practices.” The new space includes huddle spaces for 2 to 5 people to congregate and meeting rooms of various sizes. It also includes some quiet spaces. “Sometimes, people do need to have a minimum of noise and privacy. For those not assigned to an office, we have provided small rooms for crunch time concentration and communications, and small, confidential meetings”, continued Sommerfelt.

The space features a lot of large windows, a part of the historical manufacturing building structure. “We designed the walls in such a way to use the natural light to its maximum,” says Sommerfelt. The project designers also worked to maintain the feel of the John Deere production environment that extended just into the 21st Century in this building. Sealed concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and open ceilings in most locations provides not only a modern “loft” feel, but pays homage to its history. “We make things in the Cedar Valley, and it’s only natural that we’d celebrate that heritage in the place dedicated to economic growth and improving the business climate,” Dust adds.

“The move-in date has been set at April 24”, says Sommerfelt, who has been the Alliance & Chamber’s project manager. Dust notes, “Sandi has a done a terrific job. I asked her to take on a major project, one she’s not been involved with in the past. She jumped in, assembling the team, acquiring the financing and negotiating the lease.” And as construction began, she shared project management with TechWorks Vice President & General Manager Wes James, who has managed the construction and maintenance in the Tech 1 building since it opened. “His knowledge and experience in working with this construction team, and this building has been absolutely invaluable,” Sommerfelt adds.

The design of the space was led by StruXture Architects, and the general contractor is Cardinal Construction, who utilized Young Plumbing & Heating, Shaw Electric, Hawkeye Alarm & Signal, Budget Blinds of Waterloo, Lindgren Glass Products, and Blackhawk Automatic Sprinklers. The furnishings contractor is Kirk Gross Company.  It’s no accident that all of the building team operate in the Cedar Valley. “It’s imperative”, says Sommerfelt, “It’s the point we make with our Value in the Valley initiative. We promote doing business in the Cedar Valley, and our work is funded by membership investments of our businesses. It’s our practice to do business with our investor-members, while watching the costs through competitive proposals in each area of cost”, says Sommerfelt. “We encourage everyone to do the same,” she concludes.

But they’re still not finished even when the group moves in. “We have a large meeting room that we’d like to finish adjacent to our offices.” It is designed to hold about 60 people in a classroom setting. It would be used by the Alliance & Chamber for board meetings, Leader Valley training seminars, and regional collaboration sessions, such as for the Manufacturers Network and Cedar Valley Regional Partnership.  It would also be available to other tenants of the Tech 1 building. “We invite businesses and individuals who would like to help make that happen through sponsorship to contact Steve or me. It’s a terrific way to recognize your family or business while providing a meeting room where thousands will meet each year,” encouraged Sommerfelt.

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.

The TechWorks Campus is a 30-acre advanced manufacturing, research and development, innovation, education, commercial and manufacturing center. Located in downtown Waterloo adjacent to the John Deere Drive Train Operations, the campus is comprised of sites for new development and 300,000 square feet space in two historic John Deere manufacturing buildings. More information about TechWorks Campus can be found at www.techworkscampus.com or by calling Cary Darrah, President at (319) 232-1156.

The Leader Valley Foundation, 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 lead a business-education partnership to develop the leadership skills of Cedar Valley students to improve and close the skills gap over time, and prepare our students for a career, college and citizenship.  More information about Leader Valley can be found at www.leadervalley.org or by calling Dr. Melissa Reade, Director at (319) 232-1156.

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Announces New Roles, Promotions

“It helps a very talented professional team do our jobs more effectively and increase the competitive stance of the Cedar Valley in a global economy.” This is how Steve Dust,  CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber describes his motivation for announcing recent promotions within that economic and community development corporation.

The announcement describes a realignment of existing staff. No new hires were made, and no compensation adjustments were included in the process, Dust emphasizes. “We did this to operate more efficiently as a combined economic development, redevelopment, and community development organization, he says.  Team members who do similar things are grouped by related functions, yet it allows us to remain flexible to very quickly attack any opportunity or issue in our economic area.”

In the new alignment, Dust is supported by four vice presidents, including Lisa Skubal, CEcD, who was named Vice President of Economic Development. Lisa oversees all business expansion and recruitment programs, marketing and project management, talent recruitment and retention, and business and economic information gathering. “Lisa enjoys a statewide reputation as one of the best in our field. Her professional growth has given her the skills to lead the team that helps wealth creating businesses and institutions locate and expand in the Cedar Valley of Iowa,” explained Dust.

Dust also named Cary Darrah as Vice President of Community Development. “Cary was brought into the Alliance & Chamber structure to manage the TechWorks Campus redevelopment, in large part because of the marvelous job she did in Cedar Falls Main Street organization, said Dust. “She has the Campus on a good trajectory with The Green @ TechWorks project getting underway in Tech II, and several good manufacturing technology-related opportunities exploring space commitments in Tech I. As I looked at the skills necessary to deal with our Competitiveness and Amenities work, which includes things like networking and events, local issues management, improving our infrastructure for business growth, and Leader Valley educational programs, it matched up nicely with Cary’s organizational skills and interests,” concluded Dust.

“In many regards, the Alliance & Chamber is a growing, entrepreneurial small business,” explains Dust. “We’re growth-oriented, and focused on doing what’s expected of us by our customers and clients, our investor-members, and this team faces the same kind of challenges our investor-members do in handling all the human resources, IT, facilities, and administrative tasks, and holding each other accountable for the wise use of our talents and resources. We take this very seriously, and to oversee the administrative components of the Alliance & Chamber, we have elevated Sandi Sommerfelt to Vice President of Operations. Sandi was in a similar VP role at another business, and she’s demonstrated that she can effectively lead and keep us well organized.”

At the same time, the CFO role held by Sue Hansen, CPA, becomes a part-time position. “Sue has worked very hard to bring us to an even higher level of management reporting and compliance with changing requirements. Sue will remain focused on our financial reporting and major HR issues, where she also has deep experience and knowledge, while having more time for family pursuits and personal interests.” said Dust.

“As we looked at the goals we expect to accomplish for  the Cedar Valley business community and economic area this fiscal year (which began on July 1), and the number of complex and sometimes new challenges we’ll face, it became obvious to the senior team a realignment was necessary to get it all done effectively. It also permits me to spend more time on strategic business development, regional issues, and investor relationships.  We’ll still be stretched, but this arrangement of duties and leadership will help relieve that challenge”, claimed Dust.

Dust concludes, “I think the most important thing to communicate to our investor-members, the business community in general, and all of the partners we rely on in accomplishing our work is that there is a team of highly talented, motivated and enthusiastic economic and community development professionals working every day in the Alliance & Chamber to increase wealth and economic vitality in the Cedar Valley economic area.”

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, not-for-profit corporation whose investors include businesses, institutions, local governments and professionals dedicated to continuously improving the economic environment and quality of life in the Cedar Valley.  The Alliance & Chamber works to increase wealth and economic vitality through collaborative economic and community development throughout the Cedar Valley economic area.

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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