Waterloo, IA: (319) 232-1156 | Cedar Falls, IA: (319) 266-3593

Tag Archives: Steve Firman

Election Day is nearly here!

You can have an impact for your business, and all of our business climate.  Your Alliance & Chamber want you to have the best resources available to put in the hands of your employees and colleagues about the candidates engaged in these races.

We work closely with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) on issues associated with business climate and economic development. Below, you’ll find links to resources via its IA Votes toolkit, to use with your teams now.

Nationally, employees say that they look to you, their employer, for information about issues that impact their jobs and workplace. They are ready to listen to you.

We all know that people really pay attention to the campaigns at the end – the last couple of weeks before Election Day. That’s right now!

Get the right tools to your employees so they can make up their minds with good information at hand, and then exercise their important American franchise and vote.

Below, you’ll find links to good information for you and your teams. At the bottom, a drafted email is included that can be used to introduce the tools to your groups.

The Alliance & Chamber Government Relations Team

Mike McCrary

Chair – Government Relations Committee

Steve Firman

Director – Government Relations

 

In two weeks, Iowans across the state will vote and decide which candidates will go to Washington, D.C. and Des Moines. The Iowa Prosperity Project (iavotes.com) provides tools and resources to help employee-voters become educated about the candidates in the upcoming election.

You can share the Find Your Candidates tool with your audience to help them learn more about the candidates in this year’s election.

Below is a drafted message to share with your audience. Don’t forget to like iavotes.com on Facebook and follow iavotes.com on Twitter for live election updates.

This is a unique election year, and enthusiasm about casting a ballot is lower than normal. It’s important to remind employees that even if they don’t want to vote for president, they should still participate and vote in down-ticket races. Those offices often have the most affect on our day-to-day lives.

Share the following materials in your workplaces: Voting Poster 1, Voting Poster 2.

For more information or additional resources, contact Nicole Crain at ncrain@iowaabi.org.

***Sample Message about Candidates***

Email Subject Line: Do you know who you’re voting for?

Dear [Employee, associate, member]:

This election year, Iowans will elect four members of Congress, one U.S. Senator, 25 state senators, 100 representatives and many more elected officials. Down ballot races are important. Do you know who you are voting for on Nov. 8?

Use the Find Your Candidates tool to learn more about the candidates on your ballot. Becoming an informed voter is as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Visit the Find Your candidates tool on iavotes.com.

2. Enter your address and click “Find Your Candidates”.

3. Become familiar with your candidates and learn more about where they stand on the issues by visiting the iavotes.com state voting records.

GREATER CEDAR VALLEY ALLIANCE & CHAMBER TO HOST LEGISLATIVE FORUM FOR INVESTORS

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will host an Investor Legislative Forum to gain input from investors on legislative issues of importance to Cedar Valley businesses.  The Investor Legislative Forum will be held on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 8:00am to 9:00am at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo.  State level issues requiring action in the upcoming session will be presented at the session by Alliance & Chamber.

Prior to the start of each Iowa legislative session the Alliance & Chamber establishes a legislative agenda.  The Cedar Valley Legislative Agenda for Economic Progress contains actions that will improve the Cedar Valley business climate and quality of life, and address specific issues for business.  Throughout the year, the Alliance & Chamber tracks and brings to the attention of its investors’ issues that have an impact on their bottom line. Investors in the Alliance & Chamber are invited and encouraged to help shape the Agenda by participating in the Investor Legislative Forum.

There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated by contacting Sandi Sommerfelt at 319 -232-1156 or ssommerfelt@cedarvalleyalliance.com. The Alliance & Chamber offers this opportunity exclusively to its 800 investor businesses & organizations and community partners. Registration deadline is September 13, 2016.

The Alliance & Chamber provides One Voice for Cedar Valley businesses and institutions by advocating for economic growth policies and business climate improvement at the local, state and federal levels.  For more information on advocacy initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber, contact Steve Dust at 319-232-1156 or sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

Action Alert: Business Tax Coupling in Iowa Senate

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

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

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

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

District 25 – Senator Bill Dix

bill.dix@legis.iowa.gov

District 26 – Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm

mary.jo.wilhelm@legis.iowa.gov

District 27 – Senator Amanda Ragan

amanda.ragan@legis.iowa.gov

District 30 – Senator Jeff Danielson

jeff.danielson@legis.iowa.gov

District 31 – Senator Bill Dotzler

bill.dotzler@legis.iowa.gov

District 32 – Senator Brian Schoenjahn

brian.schoenjahn@legis.iowa.gov

District 36 – Senator Steve Sodders

steve.sodders@legis.iowa.gov

District 38 – Senator Tim Kapucian

tim.kapucian@legis.iowa.gov

Unsure who to contact?   Find your district Senator here.

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

Cedar Falls Mayoral Candidate Forum Recap

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber held a Cedar Falls Mayoral Candidates Forum on Friday, October 23st at the Cedar Falls Tourism Visitors Center to give investor businesses the opportunity to understand each candidate’s position on issues that affect the economy including business climate, workforce, and quality of life.

Specific topics raised included: University Avenue, the downtown waste water treatment facility, the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) as an economic development tool, a part-time vs. full-time mayor, and more.

“The Alliance & Chamber serves as the one voice for business in the region. We advocate for the concerns of business at the local, state, and national level. We provide opportunities for education on issues, interaction with officials, and encourage our investors to participate in the process,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber.

All three candidates participated in the Cedar Falls Forum including: businessman Jim Brown, incumbent Mayor Jon Crews, and retired railroad management employee Dave Halterman.

Each of the mayoral candidates made a brief opening statement. Moderator Steve Firman, Director of Alliance & Chamber Government Relations, then directed questions from the audience to the candidates.

In his opening statement Jim Brown shared his three-point platform of business development, good communication, and strong leadership. He pointed to his success launching a technology startup and in talent recruitment for John Deere as valuable experience that will help him market the city to new business and talent. Brown noted that the University Avenue project will likely move forward as approved by the current council.

Jon Crews bases his campaign on ‘facts and real numbers.’ He points to reduced residential and industrial tax rates, and quality of life and amenities as hallmarks of his tenure as mayor. Crews believes the use of roundabouts on University Avenue will reduce accidents and save lives.

Dave Halterman was a critic of the University Avenue reconstruction plan and outlined seven ways he believes the project could be handled more efficiently. He sees University Avenue as the ‘present and future of tourism and business development in Cedar Falls.” He believes the opportunity to increase the tax base is ‘bleak.’

Brown did not comment on the issue of the downtown location of the waste water plant. Crews commended the water treatment department for their efforts to mitigate the odor issue and noted that new development has continued despite the location of the plant. Halterman criticized the way EPA requirements for run-off into sanitary sewers are being addressed.

Brown supports the use of TIF. He believes it puts the City in a position of strength when negotiating with prospective businesses. Crews cited the City’s successful use of TIF and believes it should not be restricted. Halterman pointed out that residents should benefit from development in lower taxes or increased services.

Crews would support a part-time mayor position if the people voted for it, but believes a balance between strong elected officials and professional staff is best. Brown sees no reason to reorganize the structure of Cedar Falls government and believes the council should decide if the position of mayor should be reduced to part-time . Halterman voiced opposition to  a city manager position saying that the people have no recourse from the ballot box. He believes the mayor is the ‘elected CEO’ of the community.

A forum participant asked the candidates how they would make decisions when their own convictions differ from the opinions of constituents.

“If I can see something that save lives, save injuries, and saves tax payers money, then I think the elected officials need to vote their conscience.” responded Crews, “If you do what you think is right and you can sleep at night then that is what you should do.”

Halterman believes leadership should concede to constituents. “Anything else,” he stated, “is arrogance.”

“There is a responsibility of a leader to lead, to communicate, to let folks know where you stand, “said Brown. “ But you also have to respect the process, which in our city is the council. The council is the power behind the process. The decision makers have to come to a consensus. Consensus means you don’t get what you want, but you are both moving the ball forward”

Listen to a recording of the forum here.

For more information on the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and their Government Relations activities, go to www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or contact Steve Dust at sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling 319-232-1156.

Governor, IPEP release findings of 2014 Battelle Report, a new economic development roadmap for Iowa

Governor Terry Branstad joined representatives from the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress (IPEP) — the state’s CEO-level, industry-led advisory board co-chaired by the Governor and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds – to release the findings of the 2014 Battelle Report: Iowa’s Re-envisioned Economic Development Roadmap. The Battelle Technology Partnership Practice was commissioned by IPEP and the Iowa Business Council to conduct this comprehensive analysis.

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO, Steven Dust, was a member of the task force and Past Board Chair, Tom Penaluna, serves on the IPEP Board of Directors. Randy Pilkington and Drew Conrad of the University of Northern Iowa Business and Community Services provided data support.

“Thanks to the IPEP board and the Iowa Business Council, we now have a roadmap for the future,” said Governor Branstad. “These business leaders – in addition to their day jobs of running Iowa’s top businesses – have given of their time and resources to make sure Iowa has a focused plan to achieve success. We are grateful for their leadership.”

Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit independent research and development organization. The Technology Partnership Practice (TPP) assists local, state, and regional organizations, universities, nonprofit technology organizations, and others in designing, implementing, and assessing technology-based economic development programs. Over the past 18 months, researchers from Battelle have been working with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and regional economic development organizations around the state to conduct the study. The comprehensive report reviews Iowa’s industry drivers and potential growth opportunities. It also looks at how the state has fared in advancing innovation, job attraction and retention since the last roadmap was developed in 2004-2005.

“IPEP is charged with advising the state on economic trends that will affect Iowa’s economy and to create a long-term strategy to keep Iowa ahead of the pack,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy and IPEP board member. “With a third-party analysis of the state’s resources, assets and existing gaps, IPEP now has both the qualitative and quantitative foundation on which to base our strategy development. Further, the Battelle Report gives us a call-to-action that will help our elected officials, policymakers, economic developers and business leaders know what strategic priorities we must embrace if we are to achieve economic success over the next decade.”

The executive summary and full report can be downloaded at iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/battelle. Some key findings identified in the report are below:

The Battelle Report takes a look at Iowa’s current position, as compared to the nation and benchmarked states. Due in part to the focused work over the past several years, Iowa is faring well. Some identified successes include:

  • Restructuring of IEDA and streamlining of funding programs
  • Creating better private/public partnerships
  • Better collaboration of stakeholders
  • Improved marketing of Iowa and its assets

Iowa has made substantial economic progress over the last decade, resulting in positive trends in Iowa’s top-line measures of success:

  • Productivity is high — As of 2013, Iowa’s economic output, in real, inflation-adjusted terms, was 5.9% higher than the pre-recession levels of 2007, outpacing the national growth of 4.7% during the same period.
  • Job growth and workforce are strong — Iowa outperformed the nation in the growth of both middle and high-skilled jobs. At the same time, the number of low-skill jobs has actually declined as both employers and employees transition to a more skilled workforce.
  • Wages are rising — Iowa substantially outpaced national gains in private sector average wages.  This is consistent with the rising workforce skill levels in Iowa and an increase in the number of higher quality jobs.
  • Per capita income is growing — While record farm incomes have driven a substantial increase in per capita income during the last decade, from 2007 to 2013, Iowa’s nonfarm personal income also grew 20%, eclipsing national growth of 14% over the same period.

The Battelle Report makes recommendations for strategic priorities that Iowa must adopt to competitively position the state in a global economy. Recommendations (Strategic Priorities) include:

  • Build on the competitiveness and growth of Iowa’s industry clusters through innovation, retention and attraction.
  • Generate and attract skilled workforce in demand by Iowa’s businesses.
  • Accelerate the development of Iowa’s emerging entrepreneurial eco-system.
  • Advance Iowa’s physical infrastructure and regional development capacities to realize Iowa’s economic potential.

“This report is such a valuable resource for the IEDA, economic developers and policymakers around our state,” commented Debi Durham, director of the IEDA. “It truly is a data-driven look at where we are at, while at the same time, it gives a clear picture of what we could achieve with the right kind of resources focused on targeted priorities.”

The Battelle study was funded through support from private-sector entities at a cost of approximately $400,000.

2015 Cedar Valley Legislative Agenda for Economic Progress

2015 Cedar Valley Legislative Agenda for Economic Progress has been released.  The agenda is substantially the same as last year with modifications to address specific issues of interest to the Cedar Valley, and larger issues that will likely come up of state wide interest, such as:

a)            Support funding for University Avenue reconstruction

b)            Removing prohibition on IRD plan changes after 2018.

c)            Increase funding for the Strategic Infrastructure Fund.

d)            Enable schools to use Local Option Sales Tax for Schools beyond 2029

e)            Support the Board of Regents’ funding plan that emphasizes in-state student enrollments.

f)             Support new or alternative sources of funding highway and bridge repair such as a fuel tax increase or alternative means of levying taxes on fuels.

Download the agenda here.

Cedar Valley Investor Report

The Cedar Valley Investor Report gives a snap shot of the activities of the Alliance & Chamber, news from our investors, and informative articles selected for their relevance to economic growth in the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Valley Investor Report

Top Leaders Attend Cedar Valley Legislative Event

The Alliance & Chamber Government Relations Committee hosted the 2014 Cedar Valley Legislative Reception on Tuesday, February 11th in Des Moines. The reception offers investors the unique opportunity  to speak with policy makers face to face in a casual environment.

In spite of the House being in debate until almost 6:15 pm and other competing functions,  those in attendance from the Cedar Valley were among some of the most important players at the State House: the Governor; the Lt. Governor; Debi Durham and her right hand man, Tim Whipple from the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (who said this was his #1 priority event for the evening); the Senators from Black Hawk, Bill Dotzler  and Jeff Danielson, who was the first to arrive and one of the last to leave; Senate President Pam Jochum; and House Assistant Majority Leader Walt Rogers. In all, 10 Senators and four Representatives were in attendance.   President Mark Kittrell and Communications & Marketing Director, Tonja Richards represented the Iowa Innovation Corporation with whom we are working on the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Alliance & Chamber Investors to attend Cedar Valley Legislative Reception

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will host its annual Cedar Valley Legislative Reception on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 from 5:00-7:00 PM, in the Terrace Ballroom, Renaissance Savery Hotel, 401 Locust St., Des Moines.

Investors in the Alliance & Chamber are invited to attend and share the story of the Cedar Valley and discuss issues of importance to Cedar Valley businesses with Legislators and other key administration officials. Legislators from 12 Iowa counties, along with the Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds, Debi Durham, Director of Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), and Ed Wallace, Director of Iowa Workforce Development are expected to attend.

There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated  by calling the Alliance & Chamber at (319)232-1156.

Legislation to Require Taxpayer Notice Introduced

A subcommittee was held on Wednesday, January 22 to discuss HSB 508. HSB 508 requires county assessors to notify taxpayers when the Department of Revenue issues an equalization order. Currently the assessor must publish notice in the newspaper. The Chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Chip Baltimore, stated his support of the bill as a way to provide additional transparency to taxpayers. The legislation also eliminates the public notice provision since every taxpayer would be notified. The Iowa League of Cities and Iowa Newspaper Association are opposed to the bill. All other parties, including ABI, are currently registered “undecided” or “neutral” on the legislation. If you have feedback on this legislation, please contact Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Director of Government Relations, Steve Firman, sfirman@cedarvalleyalliance.co.

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