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Tag Archives: STEM

2016 DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Award (50+ employees) – Waterloo Schools


Dr. Lindaman and Dr. Smith accept the Diversity & Inclusion award on behalf of the Waterloo Schools.

Dr. Lindaman and Dr. Smith accept the Diversity & Inclusion award on behalf of the Waterloo Schools.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016. Congratulations to the Waterloo Schools, recipient of the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Award.

The Waterloo Community School District serves children and families bringing over 30 languages and 70+ dialects, plus a similarly diverse staff. District goals include enhanced efforts to reduce the achievement gap between demographic subgroups, provide cultural competency training, utilize research-based cultural competency strategies, maximize equitable community access to and use of our facilities, recruit and retain employees from diverse backgrounds, build partnerships within the community, and schools and homes of our students.

The WCSD Equity Committee, made up of school and community stakeholders, provides linkages to diverse area communities and organizations.  Collaboration partners include: Waterloo Human Rights Commission, NAACP – Education Committee, representatives from the Bosnian, Latino and Burma-origin Communities, and UNI Conference on African-American Children and Families.

The District is a lead partner in Cedar Valley CultureFest – a celebration showcasing the increasing diversity in the Cedar Valley through food, art, music and exhibits.

The Districts Community Relations Department regularly promotes diversity across the district by sharing stories through multiple media platforms with the general Cedar Valley area.

View the video produced by Pyke Studios here.


View a video of the entire event, including acceptance speeches, produced by Cedar Falls Cable is here.




CEO Mike Mallaro accepts the Business of the Year Award.

CEO Mike Mallaro accepts the Business of the Year Award.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016. The VGM Group received the Business of the Year Award for companies with 51+ employees.  PDCM Insurance sponsors this award.

View the presentation video about the VGM Group, produced by Pyke Studios,  here.

With 25 years of success, The VGM Group includes more than 20 business units. The most recent $20m expansion adds 70,000 square feet of new offices to the San Marnan Ave. corporate campus and will be home to 300 employees.  The $2m renovation of the Alexandra Drive location accommodates growth of new tech based jobs.

VGM is a 100% owned by its 650+ employees through Employee Stock Ownership Plan “ESOP”, keeping wealth in the Cedar Valley and creating an employee focused culture and unique employment brand. VGM is one of Iowa’s 2015 Top Workplace in the Large Company category selected through an independent survey by Workplace Dynamics.

VGM’s annual Heartland Conference contributed an economic benefit of $1.1 million in the Cedar Valley in 2015 alone.

To help develop, strengthen, and retain talent in the company and the Cedar Valley, VGM participates in Iowa’s STEM Student Internship Program and has developed an internal professional development program for emerging leaders with in their company.


View a video of the entire event, including acceptance speeches, produced by Cedar Falls Cable is here.


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

Cedar Falls Schools Making the World Their Classroom

Cedar Falls Schools Making the World Their Classroom

CEDAR FALLS, IA  The countdown is on for launching a project to expand classroom learning across town and across the globe for K-12 students at the Cedar Falls Community Schools.

Beginning in January, the schools’ digital learning initiative will put web-connected notebook computers in the hands of every high school student, opening up access to learning tools and experiences outside the classroom walls. For grades 3-6, one notebook will be available for every two students, and pre-K through grade 2 students will share iPads on a three-to-one basis. Notebooks will be distributed to all  junior high students at the beginning of the 2014 fall semester.

Plans to take digital learning tools to the next level as a “one-to-one” school have been in the works for about two years. Cedar Falls teachers, administrators, technical staff, school board members and parents have all been part of the planning effort through the District Technology Committee.

“Truly, the most important thing is that we aren’t doing this for the sake of having more technology in the classroom,” said Dr. Andy Pattee, Superintendent of Schools. “We are undertaking this very large initiative to help students learn and showcase their learning at greater levels, by providing much more access to tools for that than we’ve had in the past.”

“A lot of work by many, many people has been done over the past couple of years to be sure that we’re doing this the right way, focused on student learning and student achievement, with all the professional development behind it for our staff to insure that it’s implemented with fidelity in the classroom,” Pattee said.

At each school building, a team of teachers is offering peer training to help everyone get familiar with the new tools so they can be used effectively for better student outcomes.

The school’s technology staff have worked over the past three years to improve the district’s internal network and beef up wireless access points at every building to get ready for increased web traffic during the school day.


“Up to now, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes,” said district Information and Technology Services Supervisor Shane Paige. “In January we’ll start rolling out Chromebooks for every student at the high school, and within 10 months our integration will be complete at every building throughout the district.”

Paige explained that the Chromebook laptops the District is deploying are easily interchangeable between students. That’s because software applications and document storage are “in the cloud” and tied to the student’s unique user identity, rather than on the hardware.

A key piece of preparation is happening this week, as the Cedar Falls School District switches its primary internet connection to gigabit service from Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU).

“Early in the planning, we knew that if we were going to get the benefits of a cloud-based system, we had to have a rock-solid internet connection,” Paige said. “That’s really why we’re making the move to CFU, for the reliability and the local support that we can call on if we need it.”

The school system operates its wide area network over fiber optic cable that CFU installed several years ago at no cost to the district. The schools will maintain a back-up internet connection through the Iowa Communications Network, or ICN.

“Serving the schools in this way is a perfect example of why we upgraded our entire system to fiber-to-the-premises,” said CFU Network Manager Rob Houlihan. “It’s meant to be a community asset that supports innovation in business, in education and in local government in Cedar Falls.”

Earlier this year CFU completed a city-wide upgrade of its communications network, bringing a fiber optic connection to every home and business in Cedar Falls. In May, CFU added service plans at one gigabit per second to its full range of internet products for home and business users.

How will connecting students to the world change learning outcomes?

“Really the possibilities are endless when you focus on student learning and enable that with technology,” says Pattee. “The world is shrinking, and we all know that. Now, with technology we can open it up for collaboration that happens across town or across the world, and give students a broader range of classroom learning experiences that can happen instantaneously and seamlessly. That’s exciting for our teachers and our students.”


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/TechWorks Campus Partners to Compete for Lightweight & Modern Metals Manufacturing & Innovation Institute (LM3I) Designation

The US Dept. of Defense has issued a RFP for the creation of an industry institute focused on discovery and commercialization of new lightweight modern metals, related products, and manufacturing processes. The goal is to deepen and strengthen the U S defense supply chain of modern lightweight metals products and production capabilities, while ensuring the same technologies and capabilities have commercial application for US industrial competitiveness.

The location of the Institute headquarters and center of manufacturing and acceleration operations in the Cedar Valley would attract the interest of those engaged in all aspects of metals design, use and production in the U.S. Iowa, and the Cedar Valley, will become a center of thought and action on development of the leading edge lightweight metals for a myriad of applications. It also cements a number of relationships with technical, business, and STEM centers and programs across Iowa and the Midwest that are beneficial to the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Center development and operation, also located in the Cedar Valley.

Iowa Innovation Corporation (IIC) is leading a team that is competing for that designation. As I write this, the IIC team led by its President Jack Harris, is completing the Concept Paper.

To assemble the components of the concept paper, the IIC assembled a team representing metals and production technologies, corporate partners, Midwestern manufacturing extension programs, industrial technical centers, trade associations, and community college representatives from the Cedar Valley, Iowa and the US for a workshop in the Cedar Valley on July 30. If the Dept. of Defense selects the IIC proposal, the LM3I Institute, which would be national in scope, would be headquartered in the Cedar Valley at TechWorks Campus Tech 1 building, utilizing the assets of the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Center (IAMC) and additional space.

Along with the “headquarters” of the Institute, the Cedar Valley would also be the location of the manufacturing innovation center of operations – where the manufacturing processes used with the new materials are refined and commercialized. The Institute would also utilize and support accelerator services for new manufacturing businesses emerging from the work of the Institute.

Contact Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust for additional information regarding the IAMC and LM3I initiatives.

Tech Shop Operations Match Cedar Valley Heritage and Future in “Making”

Many Cedar Valley regional business and institutional leaders are involved in creating a Cedar Valley Tech Shop location. The Alliance & Chamber in partnership with Cedar Valley’s McElroy Trust, is collaborating with San Francisco-based TechShop to establish one of its nationally known, membership based industrial workshops here (look at www.techshop.ws).

The project includes a 15,000 to 17,000 square foot industrial workshop that provides an array of machinery and equipment to design and make just about anything anyone would want to try to make. The equipment includes everything from the CAD stations and small format 3D printer equipment, to hand tools, to highly sophisticated water jet cutting equipment, and applicable to the spectrum of materials, including cloth and fabrics. Importantly, it delivers a long menu of specific machine and “how to” training courses, on-site, to make anyone, a “maker.”

A key element of TechShop success is community engagement and outreach. The Cedar Valley presents an opportunity to engage students, and adults of all interests with a hands-on shop environment to learn about and do manufacturing. In the Cedar Valley, our “hook” is our deep heritage and sophistication in manufacturing in the economy and our emphasis on STEM education at all levels, including the STEM emphasis of UNI’s teacher education programming, and the Iowa STEM Initiative programming.

We are currently working with the for-profit firm to secure the facilities and required partnerships. Contact Steve Dust or Cary Darrah regarding Tech Shop.

Welcome UNI President Dr. William Ruud

As the leader of one of the largest institutional employers in the Cedar Valley, the president of UNI plays a key leadership role in the development and promotion of the Cedar Valley economy. The Alliance & Chamber looks forward to the opportunity for Cedar Valley leadership to introduce the Ruud’s to our economic and civic interests, and emphasize the importance of business/community/education collaboration.

Dr. William N. Ruud began serving as the 10th president of the University of Northern Iowa on May 31, 2013.  He previously served as president of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania since 2007.

President Ruud, Bill, as he prefers, began his career in higher education at the University of Toledo in 1981.  He taught business and ethics courses, was selected to coordinate the MBA program, served as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and was appointed Interim dean of the College of Business Administration.  In 1993, he was named dean of the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University and was promoted in 1998 to Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

In 2000, Bill was selected to serve as the Chief Education Policy Advisor for the Office of Governor Dirk Kempthorne, State of Idaho.  In 2004, he was named Vice President for Development/University Relations at California State University at Stanislaus.

President Ruud has a wealth of varied leadership experiences at public universities.  He has successfully led the completion of the reaccreditation process, cultivated and developed major gifts for universities, and oversaw increases in faculty research programs and grants, student enrollment and graduation rates.  He is known for his business acumen and has consulted organizations on educational assessment and economic development issues.  He continues to conduct research on institutional leadership and organizational behavior topics.

President Ruud received his Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Hospital Administration from the University of North Dakota.  He received his Master’s degree in Business Administration and his Doctorate degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He has served on numerous advisory panels, governance and chamber boards, and literacy councils.  He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, and he and his wife of 36 years, Judy, reside in the UNI President’s House with their Cockapoo, Fuzzy.


Dust Optimistic About Cedar Valley Economy – Part 2

View the three part video of Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber on KWWL’s Steele Report.

Click Here.

Dust Optimistic About Cedar Valley Economy – Part 1

View the three part video of Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, on KWWL’s Steele Report here.

Click Here.

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