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Tag Archives: skilled workforce

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.


The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber announces nominations will be accepted now through the end of Oct. 31, 2014 for Diversity & Inclusion Business Awards to be presented during the 2015 Annual Celebration on Thursday, March 26th at the Park Place Event Centre.

This recognition is given for outstanding contribution by a business or organization for leadership in creating and strengthening an environment of diversity and inclusion in the workplace culture, business practices and in the community.

Nominations can be made through the nomination form on the Alliance & Chamber website, www.cedarvalleyalliance.com/diversity through the end of October. Nominees will be invited to complete an application and interview process to determine winners.

Past award winners from the 2014 event include Allen College Unity Point and Veridian Credit Union. Past award winners from the 2013 event include Em’s Coffee of Independence, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Iowa, Inc., and Wartburg College.

The Cedar Valley Diversity and Inclusion initiative is designed to strengthen the Cedar Valley through promoting diversity, full inclusion, and cultural competencies in business, and to focus on the importance, impact and benefits to business of effective diversity and inclusion practices. The partnership also hosts an annual educational summit in the fall and two multicultural receptions throughout the year.  The next reception will be Oct. 28th at Hawkeye Community College from 4:30-6:30pm.

Descriptions of the awards, nomination forms, and application form are available at the Alliance & Chamber offices or online at www. cedarvalleyalliance.com/diversity .  For additional information, please contact Alliance & Chamber Vice President of Community Development, Cary Darrah  at cdarrah@cedarvalleyalliance.com or 232-1156.



Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Summit

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is hosting the fourth annual Executive Diversity & Inclusion Summit, an educational event for professionals on Friday, September 26th.  The Executive Diversity & Inclusion Summit, sponsored by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Iowa, Inc. will be held at Allen College, 1990 Heath Street, Waterloo, from 8:00am to 1:30pm, with registration and breakfast beginning at 7:30am. The Summit provides attendees a concentrated and focused experience with multiple activities including a keynote speaker, a featured speaker, and authoritative workshops. Recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute are available to attendees.

Summit Topic: Identifying Unconscious Bias in the Work Place

The keynote speaker is Armers Moncure, whose areas of speaking, consulting and training focus and expertise include: Unconscious Bias, Cultural Competency and Employee Engagement. Most recently, Armers piloted new approaches to integrating best practices in Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Engagement. One of his signature and most popular workshops for increasing engagement is called Discovering WorkLife Passion and Purpose.

The focus of the keynote presentation will be Unconscious Bias in the Work Place. Attendees will gain an understanding of the dynamics of hidden or unconscious perceptions and how it can show up in daily activities and reinforce stereotypes. The presentation will also show how unconscious bias impacts talents management and inclusion within the workplace and offer ways to mitigate the impact of unconscious bias.

The featured speaker is  Deanna Kosaraju with her presentation How to Create and Sustain a High Performing Team Through Diversification. This presentation will look at how diversity in an organization can increase innovation and enhance productivity, resulting in higher sales and profits. Creating a plan for the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse employees, while eliminating unconscious bias and stereotype threat, will shift an organization from a stifling culture to one where ideas and innovation thrive.

Two breakout sessions will be presented by local experts; Effective Workplace Communication in a Pluralistic Society presented by Karris Golden and Diversity and the Impact on Your Organization presented by Quentin Hart.

Also during the Summit, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will announce the call for nominations and application processes for the Diversity & Inclusion Awards to be presented at the 2015 Annual Celebration, March 26, 2015 at the Park Place Event Center, Cedar Falls.

These awards will be given for outstanding contribution by a business or organization for leadership in creating and strengthening an environment of diversity and inclusion in the workplace culture, business practices and in the community.  Deadline for nominations is October 31, 2014.

The Summit’s premier sponsor is Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Iowa-Inc. It is also supported by gold sponsors Allen College Unity Point and Veridian Credit Union. CUNA Mutual Group is the silver sponsor. There is no cost to attend, but registration is requested no later than September 19th by going to the Events Calendar at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com. More information about the initiative and the awards can be found there.

The Diversity & Inclusion Initiative helps the business & institutions of the Cedar Valley region recognize and act on the business case for adopting and implementing inclusive practices in hiring, employee development, marketing and environment.

For more information about the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Partnership, Summit or awards call Cary Darrah at (319)232-1156 or email cdarrah@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

Go to the event page on our website by clicking here.


Cedar Valley Manufacturing Conference Scheduled for February 5

The Cedar Valley Manufacturing Conference is scheduled for February 5 in Waterloo.  The conference will be held from 8:15 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. in Tama Hall on Hawkeye Community College’s campus.  The conference is open to the public and there is no charge to attend.

Individuals who work in manufacturing will find this conference informative as they network with other decision makers, discuss the global marketplace, review employment trends and statistics, question the panelists, and tour Hawkeye’s vitual technology labs.

The keynote speaker is Tom Kammer, manufacturing consultant at the Center for Business & Industry at South Central College in Minnesota.  Kammer specializes in helping organizations with Process Improvement. He is a nationally certified trainer with implementation experience with more than 200 companies.

The conference is co-sponsored by Hawkeye Community College Business and Community Education and Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber.  Those interested in attending should call 319-296-4223 to register or online at www.hawkeyecollege.edu/go/manufacturing.



Alliance & Chamber Investor, Doerfer Companies Awarded NASA Contract

Alliance & Chamber Investor, Doerfer Companies  Awarded National Aeronautics & Space Commission (NASA) contract  in conjunction with an on-site visit from several NASA officials to Doerfer’s Waverly and Waterloo, Iowa factories during the week of December 9, 2013. Alliance & Chamber CEO, Steve Dust was present for the event where NASA officials showed great enthusiasm for the project and partnership with Doerfer.

Doerfer’s Wheelift Division, which operates primarily from Doerfer’s facility at 1575 Big Rock Road, Waterloo, Iowa, received a multi-year NASA contract in 2012 to provide the main assembly & material handling transporters for NASA’s new SLS (Space Launch System) core stage rocket production plants in New Orleans, LA. Wheelift’s transporters will carry the core stage rocket segments through full assembly, engine test, and launch preparation at NASA’s plants located in Michoud, LA, Stennis Center, MS, and ultimately Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL.  Doerfer’s Wheelift transporters will travel with the 240 foot assembled rocket core stage on a ship as they make their way to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch.

The NASA SLS program will produce the largest and most powerful rockets ever built and represents the cornerstone of NASA’s future space endeavors. SLS will deploy the Orion Space Capsule to provide enhanced long range capability for extended human space travel beyond earth orbit and supports travel to the International Space Station as well as commercial and international support cargo missions. A NASA Fact Sheet on the SLS program is provided with this release. Extensive additional information is available on

SLS at  http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/index.html.

NASA’s SLS team is led by Mr. Garry Lyles, SLS Program Chief Engineer, who will travel from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL to address the Doerfer team along with visiting dignitaries and to conduct the award presentation commencing at 9 am on Thursday, December 12. Mr. Lyles is responsible for overall design and development of the SLS, is the recipient of the Presidential Rank, Distinguished Executive Award, and was named the 2012 Astronautics Engineer by the National Space Club.  During NASA’s visit both Wheelift and NASA engineers will demonstrate and test the first 4 transporters produced for SLS, in preparation for delivery to NASA in early 2014. A schedule of events together with contact information will be provided to the media and attending dignitaries for the award presentation and transporter demonstrations. Although Doerfer is unable to open this event to the public, an additional public open house will be scheduled and conducted in 2014 in conjunction with production of the next round of transporters currently in process.

Doerfer Companies is an engineering driven designer, manufacturer, and integrator of automation systems and related equipment used to manufacture, handle, assemble, test, and package industrial and consumer products with plants in Iowa, Illinois, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Singapore. Additional information can be found on Doerfer and Wheelift at  http://www.doerfer.com/ and  http://www.wheelift.com.

Meeting in the Middle: Attracting Talent to Cedar Valley Job Opportunities

– Britt Jungck, Director of Business Services & Workforce Development

Recruiting quality employees can be one of the most stressful and competitive tasks in any company.  We have jobs in the Cedar Valley and the job seekers have choices.

So who is winning this battle for talent?  Lately, almost every company that I talk to is hiring for at least one position or projecting a hire in the next six months.  Numerous Cedar Valley companies are adding dozens to their staff teams each year; some having an easier time than others.

The biggest factor in determining a company’s hiring success is their level of engagement with the community and potential job seekers.  If we are talking about recruiting the emerging workforce (young professionals and college graduates) then this is a vital ingredient to success.  Millennials rarely apply to an unknown company.  They want to work for an organization that meets their aspirations, and if they haven’t heard of your business, they probably aren’t dreaming of working there.

Usually when I start talking about community engagement, many HR Directors begin to roll their eyes.  I’m not saying you have to pass out frisbees to every college student or offer pizza and beer to every young professional you know.  But, thinking through your recruitment strategy and whether it represents what’s effective in 2013 might be a good idea.  In fact, there are many things you could probably do to connect with more people that cost LESS money.

Job Fairs-Starting with the obvious, job fairs are a great way to meet a large number of potential candidates in one day.  However, you have to carefully plot how your image plays to the attendees when planning your booth.  This does not mean simply dusting off the old bowl of butterscotch discs.  Today’s employers need to be engaging.  Props, displays, games, surveys, thoughtful giveaways( instead of consumables), music, computers, bright colors, and representatives that fit the same demographic as your potential candidate(s) are all a great start.

The Cedar Valley needs to have a greater, more active and engaging, presence at our local job fairs, especially those on college campuses.  Why?  Because rumors determine image.  If they see you and like you, they may want to be you.  If they see you and are bored with you, they may spread the word.  If they don’t see you at all, you’re invisible.  As a community, we have such a breadth of successful businesses, we should never settle with giving a lackluster impression of the Cedar Valley.  And other towns are showing up to compete!

Strategic involvement-What’s your market?  Go there.  If you need to hire 30 software developers and technical sales professionals, you can’t just put an ad on Indeed.com and hope someone stumbles upon your company.  Where do the best people come from?  Offer internships (that pay).  Where do software developers hang out?  Offer coupons or Groupons for their favorite coffee shop or bar.  Do they have kids?  Get your brand at all the soccer tournaments and talk about your flexible schedules.  You have to maneuver the market to be successful.

One local company is showing great promise with this, wanting to connect with college students, they decided to help on move-in day at the dorms.  Free labor?  That makes an impression!  Another had free cocoa available at the first, cold outdoor football game.  Yet another is using an “office decorating allowance” to cater to those who feel their work environment is important in their decision.  The point is, be unique.  Don’t be another empty table or desperate plea in an advertisement.  Be something positive that is going to inspire your future employee to apply.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is committed to both providing recruitment ideas to its investors through career fairs and panel discussions (see our event schedule!), but we are also working with young professionals to get to know their community.  We will be sponsoring five bus tours, featuring more than 60 companies and organizations, to help foster ideas for job seekers.  These events have an added bonus of being able to show off our gorgeous community to those who might not venture around as often.

The truth is, we have a lot to offer.  Hundreds of job opportunities.  Fast succession potential. Creative, growing employers.  We just have to reach out with new methods, as talent and as employers,  to connect the dots and get (people) hired.

Skilled Iowa Testing Month Set For October

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, Hawkeye Community College and Iowa Workforce Development are partnering to host Skilled Iowa Testing Month for Cedar Valley employers.

Last November, Governor Terry Branstad visited Waterloo and designated the Cedar Valley as the first Skilled Iowa region in the state.  Since that time, the number of employers who have signed letters of commitment supporting the program has risen to over 520 across the region.  This means that over 29% of Cedar Valley employees are currently working in a Skilled Iowa firm.

After signing the Skilled Iowa commitment form, employers are eligible for an array of complimentary services including access to National Career Readiness Certification testing for their employees at no cost.  This exam, tests an individual’s skill levels in applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information.  Hawkeye Community College, a partner and supporter of the Skilled Iowa program, has contributed several of their locations as testing sites including the main, Independence, and Waverly campuses and the MLK and Cedar Falls centers.  Additionally, Skilled Iowa employers can send individuals to the Hawkeye Community College IowaWORKS Center on University Avenue or they can contact anyone on the IowaWORKS Business Services team to get access to a mobile lab to visit their facility.

As further incentive to take part in these services, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is encouraging our investors to test at least two individuals in the month of October, declaring it “Skilled Iowa Testing Month.”  This push, aimed at increasing the data available concerning the skills of our area workforce, will help local economic developers market our community and employers plan for future hiring needs.

“Skilled Iowa is another tool Cedar Valley businesses can utilize in their efforts to grow and sustain their workforce,” commented Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber, “Talent is a key factor in a business’ ability to grow and our role is to provide solutions to recruiting and retaining a talented workforce to meet their needs.  NCRC certifications, especially for our employers with Baby Boomer retirements and succession planned in the near future, can be a great resource for workforce development planning.”

An added benefit to the test takers is a chance to win a gift certificate, valued at $50, to any member-investor business of any Chamber in the Cedar Valley region for any individual who earns a “Platinum Certification” on their NCRC exam.

Employers and job seekers can contact the Hawkeye Community College IowaWORKS office for questions about the NCRC exam and the testing times available to earn an NCRC certificate by calling 319-291-2546.



1,500 Cedar Valley Students To Take Part in National Manufacturing Day

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, Hawkeye Community College and area school districts are partnering to coordinate tours for 1,500 area 9th grade students to tour manufacturing facilities on October 4th, National Manufacturing Day. 

CEDAR VALLEY of IOWA (September 17, 2013)—On October 4th, ninth grade students from nine, Cedar Valley area schools will see manufacturing and engineering careers in action as part of National Manufacturing Day (www.mfgday.com).  The event is sponsored by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and Hawkeye Community College.

The Cedar Valley is home to the highest concentration of manufacturing companies and careers in the state, and the demand for future employees in manufacturing is projected to be extremely high.  Some area companies have been hiring 15 to 25 people per year to keep up with retirements, so the Alliance & Chamber partnered with Hawkeye Community College, the leading advanced manufacturing training center in the state, and the local SME Chapter (Society for Manufacturing Engineers) to conceive an event that gets students into local businesses.

More than 14 manufacturing companies will participate and open their doors to groups of 15-40 students and chaperones showing off their advanced technology, innovative designs and leadership opportunities to a new generation.  “It’s important for us to debunk the myths of manufacturing careers that can exist with students, and even their parents.  These are no longer the dirty careers of years past.  These are now careers that involve critical thinking, high-technology, and some of the most important products to our economy,” said Britt Jungck, Director of Business Services and Workforce Development for the Alliance & Chamber.

After the event, students will have the opportunity to respond to an online survey to capture what they learned and how their attitudes about manufacturing careers changed as a result of seeing the facilities first-hand.  This data will be extremely useful for area school districts in career counseling and high school programming.

“This is just another example of how the business and education communities in the Cedar Valley are creating meaningful partnerships that will enhance our workforce and quality of life,” Jungck added.



Alliance & Chamber Seek Investor Input to 2014 Legislative Policy Agenda

As the Government Relations Committee begins deliberating on the 2014 GCVAC Legislative Policy Agenda, I want to extend a special invitation to an Investors’ Legislative Issues Forum on Monday, September 16, 2013 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cedar Falls from 8:00-9:00 am. This year, the Alliance & Chamber is offering an opportunity for investor involvement in legislative priority identification through this forum. Please come to hear from other investors what is on their minds as we begin crafting our 2014 agenda. Our hope is that this forum will give us an important head start and strengthen our efforts in identifying and prioritizing issues important to business in the Greater Cedar Valley as we build the Alliance & Chamber’s legislative agenda for the next session.

The October 11 Friday Forum will be at the Five Sullivan Bros. Center and the November 8 event will be at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.

Alliance & Chamber encourages voters to renew Hawkeye Community Collge Maintenance Levy

Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber resolve to support the approval of the renewal of the Hawkeye Community College  Maintenance Levy, and encourage the voters within the 10-county HCC District to approve the renewal on September 10, 2013.

Hawkeye Community College (HCC) delivers educational opportunities to students from all over the Cedar Valley Economic Area, and beyond. HCC serves as an important bridge into higher education for high school students wishing to advance their technical and general education, and presents educational options to high school students at a critical point in their educational experience. Further, HCC delivers 50 specialized career training programs developing a broad range of skills that are important to the continuing growth of the Cedar Valley economy and contribute to increasing the incomes of talented Cedar Valley people. These include such areas as health care technicians and nursing, teacher preparation, advanced manufacturing and basic industrial operations, green and sustainable construction and energy technologies, logistics and large vehicle drivers training, web design and information technologies, and more. HCC also collaborates closely with the University of Northern Iowa, Allen College, and other schools to ensure that higher educational programming is coordinated to deliver maximum productivity in the student’s experience, shorten the time the student must be in the formal educational setting as they seek to get into the job market quickly, and employers seek students to acquire basic skills to fill immediate openings in well paying, skill-based jobs.

To deliver these economy-building educational programs both efficiently and effectively, HCC must continuously maintain and improve its physical facilities. Since the primary programs of HCC are focused on the fast changing industries, continuously investing in more advanced technologies and methods, so too must HCC continuously invest in state of the art educational and training facilities to fully prepare the students to maximize their income when they enter the job market. For instance, Hawkeye has recently delivered facilities that, using advanced virtual technologies, reflect modern hospital and clinical conditions for healthcare technologist training; a center housing advanced driving simulators for logistics and large vehicle training; and are preparing to open, this fall, an advanced manufacturing center to ensure our production-oriented operations are receiving new employees with needed skills to advance the productivity and profitability of Cedar Valley industrial employers, as well as ensuring graduate building and energy technicians are well prepared to deliver the highest levels of expertise in energy efficiencies in construction and energy generation.

HCC has proven to be a good steward of the existing Maintenance Levy funds. The Levy has been authorized for nearly 50 years. The funds generated by the small levy have been used to continuously modernize and maintain the efficient campus.

HCC is highly beneficial to the Cedar Valley economy. It has an enrollment of over 6,000 students in college-credit programs. HCC also plays a significant role in establishing the Cedar Valley as an

ideal location to build a “second career” through lifelong learning and adult education courses. HCC is very efficient for Iowa: fully 94% of graduates stay in Iowa to contribute to our economy and participate in our communities. Cedar Valley businesses benefit from HCC’s $106 Million in annual economic benefits delivered, including over 1,300 jobs.

The impact of the extended levy of $.2025 per $1,000 of assessed value will cost the average district homeowner less than $11 per year, yet deliver over $1.7Million of revenue targeted to facilities improvements on the HCC campuses only.

Based on the high levels of reliance the Cedar Valley businesses have on the success of HCC, and that HCC’s role in skills training and higher education is increasing as talent and skills are what drives economic growth, that HCC has proven itself a good steward of the Maintenance Levy funds, and it is to the benefit of the Cedar Valley in greater skills delivered, converting to higher incomes and stronger communities throughout the economic area, delivered to students who primarily work at Cedar Valley businesses and institutions and live in the Cedar Valley, and the levy is a continuation of an existing levy that is well managed, the Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber resolve to support the approval of the renewal of the HCC Maintenance Levy, and encourage the voters within the 10-county HCC District to approve the renewal on September 10, 2013.

Further, the Board of Directors asks the CEO and his representatives to distribute its reasoning and action to the investor-members and general public through appropriate means and media.

Resolved unanimously by the Directors present at the Board of Directors meeting on July 21, 2013.


Tom Penaluna, Chair of the Board


Steven J. Dust, President & CEO, Secretary of the Board


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