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

Tag Archives: technology

TechWorks proponents forge ahead

September 30, 2013 12:00 pm Editorial – Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier


That’s why proponents of the Cedar Valley TechWorks should not lose heart.

TechWorks, the agri-industrial research complex being developed on portions of John Deere’s former Westfield Avenue facilities, is now 10 years in the making. It was jointly proposed in 2003 by then-University of Northern Iowa president Robert Koob and Barry Shaffter, then general manager of Deere’s Waterloo operations.

Part of the project appears to have hit what proponents call a financial “speed bump.” An application for historic designation through the U.S. National Parks Service has been turned down. At stake is some $10 million in historic preservation tax credits toward the $50 million project.

Proponents are forging ahead.

Bryce Henderson, chief financial officer and chief operating officer with Davenport-based Financial District Properties, the project’s developer, said, “This decision was largely subjective, and we’re going back next week to present our case again,” he said last week.

Darn right. With all due respect to the Park Service, we don’t understand how preserving and enhancing a complex that was the industrial heart of Waterloo for most of the 20th century cannot have historic significance. We areapproaching the 100th anniversary of John Deere’s entry into Waterloo with the purchase of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. in 1918,  which was located on that very spot.

Henderson said the project will continue, and that there are backup financing plans. “You never go into a redevelopment project like this without a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D,” he said.

Developers have not given up on securing the historic designation for the Tech 2 building, which is scheduled to open in the winter of 2014 with a Radisson business-class hotel with a ground-floor restaurant, John Deere training facility, showroom and office space and a location for education programs of Hawkeye Community College.

“Part of our discussion was how to get started on the west end of the campus around the museum (Deere Tractor and Engine Museum, now under construction) and Tech 1 while we’re still putting all the pieces together for the Green project,” said Steve Dust, president and CEO of TechWorks. “It was important to understand that we continue to move ahead, even though this is a very important part of the project.”

We appreciate and applaud that undaunted approach. We would ask Park Service officials to consider the alternative. Longtime Cedar Valley residents have seen many industrial buildings fall victim to the wrecking ball, which subsequently resulted in aesthetic eyesores and environmental cleanup headaches.

The TechWorks project is a responsible, systematic re-use of a major industrial site in this city, preserving the site’s heritage with a look to future technologies. That’s a plan worth pursuing, and fighting for.



Mark Kittrell Joins the Iowa Innovation Corporation


Des Moines, Iowa (Oct. 7, 2013) – The Iowa Innovation Corporation Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Cedar Falls entrepreneur Mark Kittrell as the new president of the Corporation. Kittrell replaces Jack Harris. Harris left the president’s position to work fulltime on the creation of an advanced manufacturing and materials center.

“We could not be happier to have Mark on board,” said Board Vice Chair Cara Heiden. “His experience in technology start-up companies and his service to the state as an officer or director of numerous industry, state and regional economic development organizations makes him the perfect candidate to move the organization to the next level”

Kittrell is a serial entrepreneur, real estate developer and IT consultant based in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  Through his over 30 year professional career he has been involved with multiple tech start-ups, real estate development and community/economic development initiatives including:

  • Founder of TEAM Technologies, a regional IT consulting/services firm specializing in IT and Internet services. Mark led the firm from modest beginnings to well over 100 staff members principally through engagements with many of the Midwest’s leading companies including John Deere, Meredith Publishing and Principal. The firm was sold to a publicly-traded company in 1998;
  • Co-founder and vice president of development for TEAM Companies, a specialist in mission critical IT facilities. The company developed and operated three data centers in Iowa and Wisconsin specializing in healthcare, financial services and other regulated industries. The firm was honored three times with the INC. 500 award for rapidly growing private companies and was acquired by TDS Telecom in December 2010; and
  • Co-founder and CEO of Eagle View Partners developing River Place, a $70 million mixed-use real estate project situated along the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Falls. In partnership with the Western Home Communities, the project consists of multi-family residential, national branded hotel and 55+ active lifestyle housing. The project is completing its first 21 units and is ready to break ground on an additional 30 units and over 20,000 feet of commercial space which is currently 50% pre-leased.

Holding a B.S in Physics from the University of Northern Iowa and an Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate (AMDP) from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design,  Kittrell has served in numerous industry, state and regional economic development organizations including the Iowa Innovation Council, Technology Commercialization Committee, Technology Association of Iowa, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance, TechWorks (a regional biotech redevelopment project), the University of Iowa Research Foundation and the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Natural Sciences Advisory Council and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC)).

Mark joins COO Karen Merrick and two other recent hires by the Iowa Innovation Corporation:

Tonja Richards, Director, Marketing & Communications – Richards brings over 20 years of public relations and communications experience to the Corporation. Recently she was the communications and marketing person for the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Administrative Office, where she was responsible for social media, web management, event management, media relations, branding and graphic design. Prior to that position, Richards spent eight years with the Iowa Department of Economic Development (now Iowa Economic Development Authority) as a marketing manager for existing industry. Tonja earned an MPA from Drake University, is a past recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer of the Year Award and currently serves on the ABI’s Leadership Iowa Board of Governors.

Alex Carter, Program Manager – Carter earned his undergraduate degree in education from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Ill. and a J.D. from Drake University Law School.  Joining the team to specialize in research, business commercialization and strategy, Alex is a native of Wilton, IA.

* * *

The Iowa Innovation Corporation: Created in 2011 to build public/private partnerships to “grow Iowa’s own”, the Iowa Innovation Corporation is a business-led, not-for-profit working as facilitators with businesses, government, start-ups, existing companies, nonprofits, universities, community colleges and anyone in the business of job creation and business growth to ensure Iowa has the tools necessary to succeed in the Innovation Economy.. For more information, go to www.IowaInnovationCorporation.com .

# # #

Community Leaders Team Up to Recruit Investors to Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Economic progress in the Cedar Valley is clearly visible. New development in our downtowns and business districts, industrial and technology parks, and residential construction bring daily improvements to the physical and economic landscape. The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is the driving force behind this economic and community development. The mission of the Alliance & Chamber, to increase economic vitality and wealth, is fulfilled by its many initiatives and programs focused on attracting new business, growing existing business, and talent recruitment and retention. The Alliance & Chamber is the champion for issues that foster a positive business climate for local industry and small business throughout the Cedar Valley Region.

Recent notable Alliance & Chamber accomplishments include:

  • Cedar Valley TechWorks – Designated as the Advanced Manufacturing Hub for the region and state, receiving $3.5 million for construction improvements, and purchase and installation of the largest 3D printer in North America, sponsored in part by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
  • Leader Valley – 14 Cedar Valley schools have implemented Leader in Me™, with 30 Leader in Me™ events engaging approximately 6,900 people to increase the “soft skills” of our future workforce and talent pool.
  • 26 opportunities delivered for business expansion, retention and recruitment, at an average of $9.46M in value.  502 jobs meet the $19/hr. goal.
  • 5 projects were completed this fiscal year representing $19 million in new capital investment.
  • 504 businesses received direct, hands-on involvement services to grow, solve problems and learn.
  • 4 Cedar Valley companies received in-depth business model enhancement services through the new Advance Cedar Valley small business acceleration program.
  • Interviewed 51 firms to gather in-depth business and economic conditions data.
  • 27 Talent Recruitment events engaging 73 businesses and over 4,000 people.

To ensure this momentum continues the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is asking every member of the business community to participate in the Fulfilling the Vision 2 Campaign. Fulfilling the Vision 2 is a $4.25 million plan for regional economic growth. Funding for business development and growth will be solicited in the Cedar Valley economic area from both the private and public sectors.

Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber (GCVAC), along with Campaign Chair John Steen, Senior Vice President, Lincoln Savings Bank lead the Fulfilling the Vision 2 campaign leadership team.

Fulfilling the Vision 2 Campaign Leadership Team

Phil Akin; Sue Armbrecht, MidWestOne Bank;  Dave Braton, Courier Communications; Steve Brewer, U.S. Bank; Chris Fereday, PDCM Insurance; Hugh Field, Beecher Law Firm;Wade Itzen, BankIowa; Josh Hurley, First National Bank; Reid Koenig, CUNA Mutual Group; Kathryn Kunert, MidAmerican Energy; Jim McKernan, KWWL Television, Inc.; Dave Quint, Advanced Systems, Inc.; Alan Shakespeare, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; Dustin Whitehead, Lockard Companies.

The funds raised through the Fulfilling the Vision 2 Campaign will be reinvested in the Cedar Valley economy to further improve our competitiveness, increase talent development and recruitment, and expand the business base. Reaching the campaign goal will result in $67 million of additional personal earnings and $37 million in annual expenditures in the Cedar Valley.  A full description of campaign goals and six areas of focus can be found at www.FtV2.org.

For more information or to make an investment, please contact: Bette Wubbena, Director of Investment Recruitment by sending email to bwubbena@cedarvalleyalliance.com or to Steve Dust, CEO, at sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, non-profit corporation representing and advocating for the interests of business, industry and institutions operating in the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber was created to coordinate the resources allocated to economic development in the Cedar Valley, and provide a platform for shared services wherever possible.



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.

Hawkeye’s Agriculture Programs Win Coveted Awards

WATERLOO–At the recent Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators (IAAE) Conference, Hawkeye Community College’s Agriculture Business Management program was awarded the 2013 Outstanding Post-Secondary Ag Education Program.  This award recognizes post-secondary agricultural education programs for their overall success, growth, and motivation.  The college was also awarded an Ideas Unlimited Award in the Continuing Education division for the new Brazil Study Abroad course for Ag Instructors.

Most careers in modern agriculture and related sciences are “hi-tech”, requiring postsecondary education.  Hawkeye’s Ag Business program will now move on to the regional level for further consideration, and then potentially to the national level.

Hawkeye’s programs have educators who are innovators and catalysts for student success in agricultural careers.  Hawkeye’s Agriculture instructors have been described as enthusiastic, motivating, and inspiring.  The IAAE’s vision is to be the premier professional organization for advancing agricultural education.

Hawkeye has long been a leader in agriculture education in Iowa for many years on the postsecondary level.  The college’s Agriculture Business Management program embodies the ideals of the agricultural teaching profession through instructional methods and has become a national leader.  This specialized program is experiencing record enrollment, with students going straight to the workforce or transferring onto four-year programs after completing Hawkeye’s program.  For more information, visit the college website at www.hawkeyecollege.edu.

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.




Alliance & Chamber Investor, Banno, unveils marketing tool Kernel

Banno, a provider of data-enriched Web and transaction marketing services for financial institutions, introduced Kernel today at FinovateSpring.

Kernel powers interactions between financial institutions and customers to deliver the best product offering based on interest, across any channel. It helps financial institutions to deliver relevant content and enhance lead generation.

According to Aite, financial institutions will increasingly rely on predictive modeling and other analytical techniques for making marketing decisions. Kernel delivers a true one-to-one marketing experience in real time by exposing a modern Web API for integration across any channel. Kernel adjusts advertisement delivery between mobile, online banking, and other experiences based on users’ interest and interaction with each channel. As a result, banks and credit unions can cultivate stronger leads and actionable opportunities for their products and services.

Banno CEO Wade Arnold explained, “Consumers interact with a multitude of self-service banking channels across an ever-expanding array of devices. Kernel simplifies the collection and analysis of these interactions to expose an individual’s intent and changing interests. Automatic campaign ad delivery allows institutions to set and track their campaigns as well as visually explore their success. Now, banks and credit unions can address a consumer’s needs with purpose and accuracy, delivering the right product message over multiple channels.”

Kernel’s ability to automatically deliver advertising campaigns is based on the best performing promotions; new website visitors will see ads that have gained the highest click-through rates. Additionally, it tracks leads through a real-time dashboard that distinctly shows what users are viewing on an institution’s website, what they click through and which advertisement is displayed at that time. This gives the financial institution actionable insights to further engage consumers.

Kate Washut Appointed to Technology Association of Iowa Board

Kate Washut, Partner at Cedar Falls technology and marketing firm Far Reach – a Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber investor, was recently appointed to the board of directors for the Technology Association of Iowa.

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) is a professional service organization that strives to strengthen Iowa’s technology ecosystem and enhance the state’s reputation as a technically advanced place where world-class technology firms and organizations thrive.   TAI’s Board of Directors provides leadership and vision for the organization and is responsible for establishing policy initiatives concerning TAI’s financial health and activities.

More info:

GCVAC Investor Company Far Reach Partner Kate Washut Wins Women of Innovation Award

Cedar Falls–Kate Washut, Partner at Cedar Falls-based Far Reach received a Dupont Pioneer Iowa Women of Innovation Award.  Washut won the award in the category of “Entrepreneurial Innovation & Leadership.”   The Iowa Women of Innovation Awards are presented annually by the Technology Association of Iowa and recognize women who are leaders in science, technology, engineering, or math.


Winners and finalists were honored at a dinner and ceremony in Des Moines on November 15.   Washut was recognized for her accomplishments in technology, including starting her company Far Reach with four other partners in 2007.  Far Reach is based in downtown Cedar Falls and offers web design and development services, custom software development, mobile technology solutions, and technology and marketing consulting.  Washut was also instrumental in the development of two additional companies, Hired Hand Software and Nu Squared Software.   Washut worked with other technology leaders in the Cedar Valley to establish the Cedar Valley TechBrew.  This event attracts around 100 attendees each month for idea sharing, networking, and start-up promotion.


The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) is a professional service organization that strives to strengthen Iowa’s technology ecosystem and enhance the state’s reputation as a technically advanced place where world-class technology firms and organizations thrive. TAI’s Women of Innovation Awards is in its fifth year of honoring Iowa women.


For more information contact Sue Munnik at 319.273.8060, ext. 112, or sue@farreachinc.com.


More info:



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