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Tag Archives: Steve Firman

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

 

Iowa Property Taxes Reduced for Commercial & Industiral Tax Payers

The persistence of Iowa commercial and industrial property owners finally paid dividends in a reduction in your property tax burden! After several tries over the last decade, the legislature and Governor came to agreement on the start to property tax reform, and provided modest tax reduction at the same time.
We appreciate those of you who contacted your legislators, encouraging them to finally act on an inequity in the tax system that has persisted – and has been an impediment to economic growth –  for far too long.

While not all was achieved that we were looking for – the rate of rollback is much less than the original proposal –  it is a start. Beyond this, it may provide the motivation for a reform of the entire system in years to come.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, through its Government Relations Committee and our director of governmental relations Steve Firman, collaborated with a coalition that included the Iowa Chamber Alliance, Iowa Association of Business & Industry, Professional Developers of Iowa, and Iowa Taxpayers Association to continually impress upon our elected officials the need for this change.

Conference Committee Report for SF 295 – Property Tax

 

Division I—Business Property Tax Credit (“Senate Plan” element)

  • Creates a Business Property Tax Credit for property taxes due and payable in fiscal  year 2015.
  • $50 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2015 to the Business Property Tax Credit  Fund
  • $100 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2016
  • $125 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2017
  • $125 million every year thereafter
  • Each person who wishes to file a claim will obtain a form from the County Assessor.
    The  form does not have to be filed again until the property is sold or transferred.
  • The state will use the money appropriated into the Business Property Tax Credit Fund to reimburse local governments the amount of credits issued.
  • When fully phased in, at least $145,000 of property value on every business would   be equal to the residential rollback
  • Total Fiscal impact to local governments is $16 million when fully phased in.

 

Division II —Property Tax Assessment Limitation and Replacement (“House Plan” element)

  • Assessment growth limitation moves from 4% to 3% on Ag and residential immediately.
  • Commercial and Industrial will assessed at 95% of valuation starting January 1, 2013; at 90% starting January 1, 2014; and is frozen at 90% thereafter.
  • The State will appropriate money for replacement of the lost revenue. Payments will be made by IDR to county treasurers:

FY 15 $78.8 million (includes multi-residential)

FY 16 $162.8 million (includes multi-residential)

FY 17 $154.1 million (does not include multi-residential and capped at this level

going forward)

 

Division III—Multi-residential Property Classification

  •  Creates a new property classification: Multi-residential
  •  Multi-residential will include apartments, nursing homes, assisted living facilities , and  certain other rental property
  •  The existing classifications are Residential, Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial
  •  Multi-residential properties will eventually equal the residential rollback after 10 years.
  •  Total fiscal impact to local governments is $85.3 million when fully phased in.

Assessment Year 2013 95%

Assessment Year 2014 90%

Assessment Year 2015 86%

Assessment Year 2016 82%

Assessment Year 2017 78%

Assessment Year 2018 75%

Assessment Year 2019 71%

Assessment year 2020 67%

Assessment year 2021 63%

Assessment year 2022 and thereafter: Residential rate

 

Division IV —Telecommunications Property

  • Determining the taxable value of each company stays the same
  • Each telephone company will receive a partial exemption from taxation on the value of the company’s property. This is phased in, with half in assessment year 2013 (FY 15), and the remainder being added in assessment year 2014 (FY 16)
  • Department of Revenue is directed to complete a comprehensive study of the telecommunications industry and report recommendations for change to the General Assembly

Assessed value        $0-$20M        $20-$55M        $55-$500M        >$500M

Exemption                    40%                    35%                    25%                     20%

 

Division V – Iowa Taxpayers Trust Fund Tax Credit

  •  Each year, beginning July 1, 2014, the balance of the Taxpayers Trust Fund exceeds $30 million a tax credit will be issued to Iowa taxpayers
  •  The tax credit will be issued to Iowans with a tax liability
  •  $60 million is the maximum amount that can flow into the taxpayer trust fund each year
  • $60 million equals a $27 credit per filer. $120 million would equal $54

 

Division VI -Property Assessment Appeal Board

  • Five year sunset – July 1, 2018, lower salaries, adding another appraiser to the   board (replacing the finance profession with state and local tax policy experience, allowing for a speedier hearing process.)

Division VII—Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit from 7% to 14% in tax year 2013; 15% in tax year 2014
  • The credit remains refundable.
  • The increase is effective retroactively to January 1, 2013.
  • Fiscal impact: $30.8 million in FY 14 , increasing to $34.5 in FY 15

 

Advanced Manufacturing Hub Step Closer with State Funding

The Cedar Valley TechWorks is one step closer to becoming the physical location of an Advanced Manufacturing Hub for the region and state thanks to legislation adopted this week.  Nearly $4 million was included in Iowa Economic Development Authority appropriations for the project.

The IEDA’s Iowa Invocation Council, which will administer the funds, has been working closely with the Cedar Valley TechWorks and Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber to establish the Campus as the designated site for the Hub.

The bulk of the funds will construct improvements in the Tech 1 building on the Campus. A portion of the funds will be used for the University of Northern Iowa to purchase a 3-dimensional (3D) printer to fabricate on-demand molds for cast components  to support  advanced manufacturing , in collaboration with TechWorks.

“With this funding, we can make the capital and infrastructure improvements to the Tech 1 building needed to attract more technology and bio-products related industrial operations and partners to the campus. The investment in building improvements and equipment will prepare space for new businesses and educational programs, and bring tremendous momentum and excitement to the Campus as these projects move forward alongside the previously announced anchor projects,” states Cary Darrah, General Manager of the Cedar Valley TechWorks Campus. “ We are grateful to the entire Cedar Valley legislative delegation for its bi-partisan advocacy for this funding, especially Senator Bill Dotzler who really went to bat for the Cedar Valley and the TechWorks Campus. His work for this and other economic development issues this year is recognized by legislators from both sides of the isle.”

Jerry Thiel, Director of UNI’s Metal Casting Center is also optimistic about the impact of the collaboration on the industry statewide, “The capabilities of having technology like this will undoubtedly increase the overall competitiveness of Iowa manufacturers by allowing them to deliver products to the market at an unprecedented rate.”

Randy Pilkington, Executive Director, UNI Business and Community Services adds,
“This is a substantial investment in advanced manufacturing not just for the Cedar Valley, but for the entire state of Iowa. It also shows UNI’s commitment to advanced manufacturing statewide.”

What this means to the Cedar Valley

“The Cedar Valley is known as Iowa’s center of Advanced Manufacturing,” states Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.  “With the high concentration of manufacturing in our economic area, and the manufacturing technology -related resources of UNI and our higher education partners, the Cedar Valley is the prime location to establish the state’s hub of leading edge applied manufacturing technologies. As businesses and entrepreneurs from all over the Midwest access our equipment and facilities to improve and produce innovative products, we take another step in innovation led economic development in the Cedar Valley economy, and toward fulfilling the original vision for the Campus. We’re proud to be known as the Advanced Manufacturing Hub,” concludes Dust.

The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of June.

The Cedar Valley TechWorks is a 30-acre advanced manufacturing and biotechnology research, development and education center, and business and manufacturing cluster. The campus is located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa adjacent to the John Deere operations. The Cedar Valley TechWorks is owned and managed by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.

 

 

-end-

Digging in . . .Two Weeks In.

 

Week two is now behind us, and the Legislature is settling into the hard work of the session.  Budget work has begun in earnest and major policy proposals, like the Governor’s education reform package, have begun to be deliberated in committee.

New legislators are beginning to find their routines and the Capitol is abuzz morning, noon and afternoon with the many groups and associations coming to Des Moines to educate policymakers on their issues and jockey for support.

Yes, it is late January in Des Moines.

So far the 85th Iowa General Assembly has been relatively smooth.  But now they are starting to dig into the big issues and the new Assembly will be tested quickly on whether or not it will be different than the past two years where bipartisan agreement was hard to come by.  Only time will tell.

There are, of course, a lot of issues for legislators to come together and support.

Education reform is at the top of the Governor’s list and has the attention of legislators from both chambers and both parties.  Iowa’s schools have not kept up with the rest of the country.  Our time on top has passed, and now we dwell in the middle of the pack.  Real reform is critical, and the proposals coming out of the reform task force are a very positive step forward to help our children be prepared for the future and to help ensure Iowa’s workforce is strong and relevant.

Property taxes are again a major topic – as they should be with the past two sessions seeing much discussion, but no agreement on reforming Iowa’s uncompetitive commercial/industrial property tax system.  The Governor has a new proposal on the table that will guarantee local governments will not lose revenue as a result of rolling back business property taxes.  2013 may well be the year to address this important issue that has been a hindrance to Iowa businesses and economic growth for decades.

Economic development issues are always lively under the Rotunda.  Last year there was a fight over tax increment financing (TIF).  This year, tax credits are under scrutiny as a response to some of the larger tax credits awards in Iowa history being involved in securing two of the biggest capital investments in Iowa history.  Iowa’s economic development activity is on a major upswing, creating thousands of jobs.  The Legislature needs to restore tax credits to their previous level of $185 million, rather than being critical of them.  Direct incentives warrant proper funding as well.

There are several opportunities for the Legislature and the Governor to come together to help advance Iowa’s economy.  The Iowa Chamber Alliance will be in the mix, advocating for economic growth and sound public policy.  Check www.iowachamberalliance.com for updates.

For questions, please contact Iowa Chamber Alliance Executive Director, John Stineman, at john@iowachamberalliance.com

GCVAC SETS 2013 CEDAR VALLEY LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR ECONOMIC PROGRESS

WATERLOO/CEDAR FALLS, IOWA (Jan., 2013) – The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber recently adopted the 2013 Cedar Valley Agenda for Economic Progress. Assembled by its Government Relations Committee, local economic development partners, and its staff team of the Alliance & Chamber, the Agenda, assembled annually, reflects the priority issues requiring action by the Iowa Legislature to advance the business and civic interests of the Cedar Valley economic area.

The five areas of focus are: (1) economic development programs and incentives, (2) talent and workforce development and recruitment, (3) improving Iowa’s tax climate, (4) education transformation, and (5) critical physical infrastructure.

“Our Iowa agenda is focused on business climate, competitiveness, and critical workforce issues, said Steve Firman, Director of Government Relations of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. “It’s also about making Iowa and the Cedar Valley more competitive and attractive for starting and expanding businesses of all sizes, and building a career,” Firman concludes.

The agenda was formally announced during a December 5th Pre-session Legislative Reception event for the Cedar Valley delegation of the Iowa legislature. The annual reception is traditionally co-sponsored by the Alliance & Chamber, Cedar Valley Manufacturers Associations, and REC of Butler-Bremer-Buchanan-Grundy Counties- each of which unveil their respective agendas for the session – and hosted by the Isle Casino Hotel – Waterloo. The legislators attending the event this year included: Sen. Bill Dix and Sen. Bill Dotzler, Rep. Pat Grassley, Rep. Sandy Salmon, Rep. Walt Rogers, and Rep. Bob Kressig.

The Government Relations Committee is chaired by Mike McCrary of Lincoln Savings Bank. The  Legislative Agenda can be accessed at the Alliance & Chamber Government Relations web page  Iowa Prosperity Project-Cedar Valley.

 

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic and community development organization focused on increasing economic vitality and improving the quality of life in the Cedar Valley economic region. Cedar Valley area business and community leaders created the Alliance to align economic development efforts and increase the region’s competitiveness in the global economy. Combined, the organization represents over 900 businesses with 50,000 employees.

 

Economic Impact of Highways & DOT Budget

During a recent meeting of the Economic Development Policy committee of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, chaired for the day by Mark Hanawalt, GCVAC investor and CEO of United Business Accessories, the Iowa Dept. of Transportation made a presentation on the needs for highway improvements. Here’s a link to the portion of the presentation on the economic impact of the highway system and program.

 

Vote for job creation, favorable business climate and prosperity

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is proud to participate in the  Iowa Prosperity Project (P2) sponsored by Economic Progress for Iowa ‘s Citizens (EPIC), a not-for-profit entity founded in 1991 by a number of businesses and statewide business associations. EPIC is a non-partisan organization dedicated to research and the dissemination of data on the attitudes of Iowa ‘s citizens, legislators, and legislative candidates on matters affecting business.

Like the GCVAC, EPIC believes that Iowa and its citizens will benefit from a “pro-business” environment. The resources found on the P2 website neither endorse nor oppose any candidate for public office, rather, it is a resource to inform the electorate by publicizing issues and factual information on those issues, and to be active participants in the political process.

The GCVAC encourages you to subscribe our Legislative Relations blog where we will be providing local insights and links to resources including P2 .
Use the link in the right side column to subscribe.

With all the political messages filling the media, it can be confusing whose name will be on your local ballet.
Find your candidates by entering your full street address below. You may also enter just your zip code if you wish.
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Use this search form to find your elected officials at all levels of government  and  see how your incumbent performed in the last term.
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Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations.

“The importance of election at the state level cannot be emphasized enough. While most of the focus and attention revolves around the tightening presidential race and a few contests for the U.S. Senate, what happens at the state level is typically more relevant to our daily lives and the pocket book issues Americans rate as the most important issue facing the country.”  – By Michael R. Davis

Read more here

“. . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.”

– Thomas Jefferson

 

Link Helps to Inform Voters

KWWL and the Quincy Broadcast Group are providing a free opportunity to qualified candidates for major office to share their message on television and/or their website in advance of the November 2012 General Election. The site also helps users identify their district and the candidates seeking office in their district. http://www.kwwl.com/category/247346/candidates-and-issues

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber sets date for Pre- Legislative Reception

The GCVAC Government Relations Committee, chaired by Mike McCrary, Lincoln Savings Bank, and GCVAC Director of Director of Government Relations Steve Firman have set December 5th, 2012 as the date for the Cedar Valley Pre- Legislative Reception. The event will take place at the Isle Casino and Hotel Waterloo, 77 Isle of Capri Blvd., at 4:30 pm.

The Pre-Session Legislative Reception is a two hour meet and mingle with area leaders from across the Cedar Valley region. Only brief introductions of the legislators in attendance, along with brief comments from each sponsor, make up the program. All area senators and representatives are invited. Investors/members should attend to indicate broad-based support for pro-market, pro-business policies and the projects and programs that will make the Cedar Valley an even better place to live and operate a business.

Sponsors for the event are the Cedar Valley Manufacturers Association, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, and the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

More information and registration can be found 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