Cedar Valley of Iowa – “It only makes sense that our offices are located in TechWorks”, emphasizes Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust, “we are inseparable partners in Cedar Valley economic development, and TechWorks is attracting tenants that we want to be near.” Dust shows his enthusiasm when talking about the new offices under construction, and to be occupied by the organizations he leads. The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is moving their office to the second floor of the Tech 1 Building on the campus operated by the Alliance & Chamber subsidiary, TechWorks Campus.
The 6,000 square feet of space will be occupied by the professional staff of 15 full-time, part-time, and contracted team members. The organizations located there include the Alliance & Chamber and its subsidiaries TechWorks and Leader Valley Foundation, as well as affiliated Cedar Valley Manufacturers Network and Cedar Valley Innovation Network.
Occupying space in TechWorks makes a lot of sense from a number of angles, and supports the work of the regional development, business promotion, and civic leadership organization. The Alliance & Chamber moves to space they have been deeply involved in for over a decade. The new space is immediately above the growing UNI Additive Manufacturing Center and the Design Lab collaboratively managed by Hawkeye Community College and UNI. The Alliance & Chamber space is one floor below the Cedar Valley Makerspace and offices available. And it is immediately next door to the new mixed-use Green@TechWorks project, opening a Courtyard by Marriott, conference center, and themed restaurant during mid-year. John Deere will open its new training center in The Green during the same time frame.
The growth of the riverfront and US 63 corridor fits nicely in the decision to build in Tech 1. “A decade ago when TechWorks began its redevelopment work,” Dust said, “the Campus was in the middle of nothing. Now, it’s central to one of the most active development districts in the Midwest.” He continues, “in addition to everything happening and about to happen on-campus, we’re next to the new Grand Crossing mixed-use project on the former Grand Hotel site, down the street from the new SingleSpeed brewery and restaurant; near all the riverfront amenities and new housing. We’re also right next to the new Hawkeye Urban Campus building. There will be as much collaboration between Tech 1 building users and the Urban Campus as there will be between the Marriott and nearby Cedar Valley SportsPlex, in my view.” concludes Dust.
The new space itself is a fresh change for the Alliance & Chamber. It’s designed in an open style, with minimal enclosed offices and a maximum of collaboration spaces. “We toured a lot of office layouts in new and old structures,” says Alliance & Chamber Vice President of Operations & General Manager Sandi Sommerfelt, “and it gave us a lot of guidance on best practices.” The new space includes huddle spaces for 2 to 5 people to congregate and meeting rooms of various sizes. It also includes some quiet spaces. “Sometimes, people do need to have a minimum of noise and privacy. For those not assigned to an office, we have provided small rooms for crunch time concentration and communications, and small, confidential meetings”, continued Sommerfelt.
The space features a lot of large windows, a part of the historical manufacturing building structure. “We designed the walls in such a way to use the natural light to its maximum,” says Sommerfelt. The project designers also worked to maintain the feel of the John Deere production environment that extended just into the 21st Century in this building. Sealed concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and open ceilings in most locations provides not only a modern “loft” feel, but pays homage to its history. “We make things in the Cedar Valley, and it’s only natural that we’d celebrate that heritage in the place dedicated to economic growth and improving the business climate,” Dust adds.
“The move-in date has been set at April 24”, says Sommerfelt, who has been the Alliance & Chamber’s project manager. Dust notes, “Sandi has a done a terrific job. I asked her to take on a major project, one she’s not been involved with in the past. She jumped in, assembling the team, acquiring the financing and negotiating the lease.” And as construction began, she shared project management with TechWorks Vice President & General Manager Wes James, who has managed the construction and maintenance in the Tech 1 building since it opened. “His knowledge and experience in working with this construction team, and this building has been absolutely invaluable,” Sommerfelt adds.
The design of the space was led by StruXture Architects, and the general contractor is Cardinal Construction, who utilized Young Plumbing & Heating, Shaw Electric, Hawkeye Alarm & Signal, Budget Blinds of Waterloo, Lindgren Glass Products, and Blackhawk Automatic Sprinklers. The furnishings contractor is Kirk Gross Company. It’s no accident that all of the building team operate in the Cedar Valley. “It’s imperative”, says Sommerfelt, “It’s the point we make with our Value in the Valley initiative. We promote doing business in the Cedar Valley, and our work is funded by membership investments of our businesses. It’s our practice to do business with our investor-members, while watching the costs through competitive proposals in each area of cost”, says Sommerfelt. “We encourage everyone to do the same,” she concludes.
But they’re still not finished even when the group moves in. “We have a large meeting room that we’d like to finish adjacent to our offices.” It is designed to hold about 60 people in a classroom setting. It would be used by the Alliance & Chamber for board meetings, Leader Valley training seminars, and regional collaboration sessions, such as for the Manufacturers Network and Cedar Valley Regional Partnership. It would also be available to other tenants of the Tech 1 building. “We invite businesses and individuals who would like to help make that happen through sponsorship to contact Steve or me. It’s a terrific way to recognize your family or business while providing a meeting room where thousands will meet each year,” encouraged Sommerfelt.
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, not-for-profit corporation working to increase wealth and economic vitality through collaborative economic and community development throughout the Cedar Valley economic area. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling Steve Dust, CEO at (319) 232-1156.
The TechWorks Campus is a 30-acre advanced manufacturing, research and development, innovation, education, commercial and manufacturing center. Located in downtown Waterloo adjacent to the John Deere Drive Train Operations, the campus is comprised of sites for new development and 300,000 square feet space in two historic John Deere manufacturing buildings. More information about TechWorks Campus can be found at www.techworkscampus.com or by calling Cary Darrah, President at (319) 232-1156.
The Leader Valley Foundation, born out of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s priority to develop a strong workforce and to strengthen business and education collaboration, has been formed to lead a business-education partnership to develop the leadership skills of Cedar Valley students to improve and close the skills gap over time, and prepare our students for a career, college and citizenship. More information about Leader Valley can be found at www.leadervalley.org or by calling Dr. Melissa Reade, Director at (319) 232-1156.