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Tag Archives: UNI

Business Grant Competition Deadline Extended to Friday

Cedar Valley of Iowa – The Cedar Valley Dream Big Grow Here has extended its entry deadline to this Friday, October 4th at 5 pm.  Small business owners and entrepreneurs simply go online and complete a short application to be in the running for a chance to win a $5,000 business grant.  This year’s winner will then go on to pitch for an additional $10,000 grand prize at EntreFest! to be held in the spring of next year.

The Alliance & Chamber is pleased by the  number of quality applicants it has already received and hopes that extending the deadline will give more start-ups time to apply.

Lead sponsor for Dream Big Grow Here is the Iowa Bankers Association.  Other key sponsors are a mix of private and public sector agencies, including the University of Northern Iowa MyEntre.Net, Iowa Farm Bureau / Renew Rural Iowa, Iowa Economic Development Authority, VentureNet, Delta Dental of Iowa, and the Technology Association of Iowa.

For more information on the Cedar Valley Dream Big Grow Here and to enter the contest, go to www.DreamBigGrowHere.com.  For complete rules or for more information about this regional contest contact Taylor King at (319) 232-1156.  To learn more about how your community can get involved in this exciting initiative, contact UNI Dream Big Grow Here Lead Rob Williams at rob.williams@uni.edu or by phone at 319-273-4333.

Ruud to be installed as UNI’s 10th president, Friday, Oct. 4

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — William N. Ruud will be officially installed as the 10th president of the University of Northern Iowa during a 10 a.m. ceremony, Friday, Oct. 4. The ceremony will take place in the Great Hall of UNI’s Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. UNI students, faculty, staff and the community are invited to attend. A reception will take place immediately following the installation ceremony. The ceremony will be streamed live online at www.live.uni.edu.

The ceremonial event will include live music by the Northern Iowa Wind Symphony and Varsity Men’s Glee Club, and representatives of the UNI faculty and staff will process in full academic regalia. The platform party will include student, faculty, staff and administration representatives. Bruce Rastetter, president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, will conduct the official installation.

On Thursday, Oct. 3, a pair of events will take place to mark the installation. A student celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Campanile Plaza. The celebration will include lunch, music and a short program. There will be a faculty, staff and community reception for Bill and Judy Ruud from 4 to 5:30 p.m., in the Georgian Lounge, Commons. Students, faculty and staff are also asked to show their Panther Pride and wear purple attire on Thursday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 4.

Ruud was named UNI president by the Board of Regents on Feb. 7 and assumed his duties on May 31.

For more information about installation, visit uni.edu/installation/ or contact Jan Hanish, assistant vice president for Administration and Financial Services and co-chair of the installation committee, at 319-273-2382 or jan.hanish@uni.edu.


UNI to begin Regional Entrepreneurship Project

The University of Northern Iowa’s Business & Community Services (BCS) division will introduce a statewide Regional Entrepreneurship Project later this year. The program, funded through a $150,000 grant from the United States Economic Development Administration’s University Center program, will work with communities and regions across Iowa to establish a framework that fosters entrepreneurial development and small-business growth.
“The goal of this project is to refocus regional efforts to encourage the entrepreneurial development and provide them with the tools to make that happen,” said LaDene Bowen, associate director of UNI’s Institute for Decision Making and director of the Regional Entrepreneurship Project.
The project will explore factors including economic distress, recent layoffs and plant closures to initially select two regions within Iowa to establish a framework. One more region will be added annually for the duration of the five-year project. Within each region, BCS will implement a four-phase effort that includes an assessment of the region, educating regional stakeholders on best practices to cultivate an entrepreneurial support system, the development of a strategic plan, implementing the plan and continued support.
For more information on the Regional Entrepreneurship Project, please visit www.bcs.uni.edu/IDM, or contact Bowen at 319-273-2969 or ladene.bowen@uni.edu.

Cedar Valley’s CUNA Mutual Group and Veridian Credit Union collaborate, fund implementation of Leader in Me in two area middle schools

Cedar Valley of Iowa – Two regional financial services organizations are collaborating to help ensure an effective leadership development initiative reaches the students of two more Cedar Valley area schools. CUNA Mutual Group and Veridian Credit Union have pledged to contribute a total of $105,000 to the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s Leader Valley initiative to further implement The Leader in Me program

The Leader in Me builds valuable 21st century personal skills that correlate to success in education and the workplace.  As students put into practice the principles of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, they become more self-confident and take ownership for their lives. Schools where The Leader in Me is implemented successfully see higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents.

CUNA Mutual Group, through its foundation, committed $75,000 to sponsor implementation of The Leader in Me at George Washington Carver Academy Middle School and Kittrell Elementary, both in Waterloo, Iowa. Veridian Credit Union committed $30,000 to Kittrell Elementary.   Veridian also participates with Kittrell Elementary in the Partners in Education program. The sum will be distributed over a three year term. Initially, the gift will provide extensive training and materials to the staff and educators at these sponsored schools.

The addition of Kittrell and Carver the total number of participating schools in the Cedar Valley is currently 14, with an anticipated impact of 6075 students and 842 educators during the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. This number represents more than one third of total students and educators in the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Cedar Valley Catholic Schools.

“At Veridian Credit Union, we believe that everyone is a leader,” said Jean Trainor, Veridian Credit Union’s CEO and Chief Inclusion Officer. “The Leader In Me program demonstrates that same belief and benefits our entire community as much as it does the students who participate.” Reid Koenig, Vice President of CUNA Mutual Group adds, “When one interacts with students who have been impacted by The Leader in Me, you quickly realize the effect the program is already having in transforming their lives. Our communities and businesses will reap the benefit of building great citizens and leaders for years to come.”

Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is encouraged by the additional participation of the business community, “One of the Alliance & Chamber’s primary goals is to develop a strong, highly talented and skilled workforce to help businesses of all sizes grow and prosper in the Cedar Valley. This significant investment by two of the Cedar Valley’s most engaged and visionary businesses, underscores the recognized value and effectiveness of the early results from The Leader in Me initiative. It is very important that businesses of all sizes, as well as individuals and other organizations join Veridian Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Group, and CBE Companies as Leader Valley sponsors. It is only through gifts like these that it will be possible to expand The Leader in Me throughout the region.”

The combined contribution of $105,000 will be presented Aug. 15 at the New Teachers Breakfast to be held at Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall. To accept the check on behalf of the Alliance & Chamber is Board of Directors Chairman and Leader Valley champion Tom Penaluna, CEO of CBE Companies, Inc. , who said; “with this kind of forward thinking funding from Foundations and businesses such as CUNA and Veridian, The Leader in Me can change, in a very positive way, the results of education in the Cedar Valley!”  Representatives from CUNA Mutual Group, Veridian Credit Union, the Alliance & Chamber, and the Waterloo Community Schools will make comments.


About The Leader in Me

The Leader in Me incorporates leadership lessons into Cedar Valley school’s curriculum and everyday language. With reference to Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me prepares students with key life skills, self-confidence, and accountability.

The Leader in Me, offered through Leader Valley, is an initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.  Through Leader Valley, strong partnerships amongst Cedar Valley businesses, school district administrators and school boards, parents, and the community are being built to make the Cedar Valley a better place for students to excel and become well prepared for citizenship and their future careers.



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 programming includes Business Growth and Recruitment, Workforce & Talent Recruitment and Development, Downtowns, Districts, Tourism, and Chamber. This work is coordinated through more than 10 organizations, and in partnership with many other organizations whose purpose is to encourage economic growth in the Cedar Valley of Iowa. More information is available at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

ABOUT CUNA Mutual Group

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at www.cunamutual.com.



Veridian Credit Union, founded in 1934 in Waterloo, Iowa, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members. The credit union offers a full range of consumer financial services and employs more than 560 Iowans throughout 26 branches. For more information, visit www.veridiancu.org or call (800) 235-3228.


Links to media Coverage


Courier #1

Cedar Falls Times

Courier #2



Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.om, (312)232-1156
Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
Tom Penaluna, CEO, CBE Companies; Board Chair, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
nmhamer@cbecompanies.com, (319)234-6686
Reid Koenig – CUNA Mutual Group
Reid.koenig@cunamutual.com, (319)352-1000
Andrea Hudnut – Veridian Credit Union
AndreaLH@veridianCU.org, (515) 289-5561
Crystal Buzza – Waterloo Community Schools
Buzzac@waterloo.k12.ia.us, (319)433-1800


Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Center Takes Shape:

During the 2013 session, the Iowa Legislature stepped up with bipartisan support to approve funding for the creation of the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Center (IAMC).

The IAMC is being established in partnership with the Iowa Innovation Corporation and Iowa Economic Development Authority. It will be a center of collaboration among those organizations listed above and many other “partners” and “users” such as  many programs and centers within UNI and Hawkeye Community College, Wartburg’s manufacturing engineering program, ISU’s CIRAS/MEP, and others. It will be available to you and other Iowa manufacturers and product innovators to increase competitiveness and commercialization of new products.

“The realization of the IAMC moves the TechWorks Campus plan ahead, said TechWorks board Chair Tim Hurley. “ IAMC creates the center of thinking and action, physical and virtual, that has always been a part of our vision, he said. “ We could not have accomplished this without the leadership of Waterloo’s Sen. Bill Dotzler and enthusiastic bipartisan leadership of our Cedar Valley delegation and support throughout the legislature, IIC and IEDA for manufacturing’s leading role in Iowa’s economy. That it’s happening in TechWorks is our dream coming true,” Hurley concluded.


The IAMC is programmed to include such uses as these examples:

  • Owned and operated by UNI’s Metal Casting Center, a large format 3D printer will be installed in the existing industrial lab space of the Tech 1 building on the TechWorks Campus. The large scale equipment, using polymer media, will be among the only of its kind in North America. The Metal Casting Center will provide access to this highly sophisticated equipment to manufacturing firms on a contract basis.
  • The Alliance & Chamber and TechWorks are collaborating with UNI to make existing lab facilities available to Iowa firms on a fee-for-time or project basis.
  • It is expected to install one and perhaps two 4 and 5 wall Computer Aided Virtual Reality Environment structures in the lab floor.
  • Improve the Tech 1 building:
    • Docks and overhead doors will be installed, along with required mechanical and electrical improvements.
    • Space will be available for advanced manufacturing operations to lease, and
    • Hawkeye Community College is establishing its green/sustainable construction methods program

Planning is underway for improvements, which will be underway later in 2013. Contact Steve Dust or Cary Darrah regarding IAMC programming.

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.




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.


Vermeer CEO to speak at UNI

Vermeer CEO to speak at UNI

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Mary Vermeer Andringa, president and CEO of Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa will speak at the University of Northern Iowa at 2 p.m., Thursday, April 11, in the University Room, in Maucker Union. Andringa is part of UNI’s distinguished guest lecture series featuring top corporate leaders. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Andringa became president of Vermeer in 1989 and sole CEO in 2009. Andringa is the immediate past chair of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest manufacturing association. She was the first female to chair the NAM. Andringa is also one of 18 private sector members of President Obama’s Export Council, where she represents the manufacturing sector on important trade matters. She also serves on the Ex-Im Bank Advisory Committee and is a member of the US-Brazil CEO Forum.

“It’s a great honor to have Mary Vermeer Andringa on our campus to share her successes, innovation, and challenges working in a global society,” said UNI President Ben Allen. “Our campus and community will have an enriching opportunity to learn about the skills needed in today’s global world.”

Vermeer is an international, family-owned agricultural, construction, environmental and industrial equipment manufacturing company with more than 3,250 employees worldwide.  Its products are used in more than 60 countries.

University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College to Introduce Covey’s 7 Habits

Leader Valley, an initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, is excited to announce two new opportunities for area educators lead by University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College education faculty.

On April 20, 2013 all pre-service teachers from both UNI and HCC are invited to attend a 7 Habits introductory session. Led by Catharine Freeman from HCC, and Teri Lasswell and Mary Beth Rygh from UNI, the college students will be introduced to the world of Covey’s 7 Habits.

Additionally, June 26-28, a 7 Habits Signature Session will be offered for Leader Valley educators at Hawkeye Community College. UNI Grad credit will be offered for the three day session.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Leader Valley Talent Initiative is an effort to make the Cedar Valley a better place for students to excel and become well prepared for citizenship and their future careers. This is achieved through high levels of community collaboration. Through Leader Valley, strong partnerships amongst Cedar Valley businesses, area school district administrators and school boards, parents and the community are being built. Leader in Me is a program of the Leader Valley Talent Initiative being implemented in schools throughout the region. More information can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com/LeaderValley or by contacting Leader Valley Program Director, Melissa Reade by calling the Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

Creating The Place to Start A Business.

By: Steve Dust 

The Cedar Valley economic area thrives on successful businesses that began one day when its owner said, “I can do that – better.” Some of these former startups are still identified with the owner – while others have grown into international business powers.

All over the Cedar Valley there are examples of people who are passionate about something, determined that no one can do it any better than they, and opened a business to prove it – people like the Bertch family, the Far Reach Technologies partners, or Van Miller’s growing-every-day-into-something-different VGM, or the CBE Group, or Mudd Advertising, or….

As their business grew, each of them discovered the value of our government relations, information, education, and networking resources, the market growth spurred by ongoing promotion,  and all the other things your professional team does to make the Cedar Valley a vibrant place for business startup and growth.

An observer of business startup and growth trends in the US, Brad Feld, recently wrote, Startup Communities – Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. Based on his decades of starting businesses, becoming an early stage venture capitalist, and now known for his highly (some would say outrageously) successful Foundry Group in Boulder, CO, Brad eloquently writes about the role of organizations like the Alliance & Chamber in creating and sustaining that Entrepreneurial Ecosystem mentioned in the title.

The very best role the Alliance & Chamber can play to foster a robust Startup Community – that encourages a faster rate of business startups and attracts more people with the desire to take the entrepreneurial plunge is: Cheerleader and Feeder. In other words, Support.

  • Work on economic vitality – grow the market! Create a place where startups have the best chance of success: work on infrastructure like broadband, and amenities to create a vibrant,  economic base
  • Make connections – directly, to new sales or service opportunities, or indirectly with exposure to customers and vendors and service providers through networking events, and to other feeder organizations – like UNI’s Center for Business Services and SCORE.
  • Inform them – with inexpensive access to high quality service providers in educational sessions on topics of interest to new businesses – like healthcare reform, social media tools, or the like – delivering info those new business owners will use to increase business results and avoid pitfalls.
  • Work with local and state government to keep them out of the way of business startup and success. Though almost always well intentioned, government gets in the way of startups and growing business with the increased cost of complying with or being constrained by this rule or that


  • Be the gathering place for startup community leaders. The leaders of our start up community must be people who have recently started their own businesses. As busy as they are, other owners of startup businesses are the best to relate to and offer actionable advice on the startup experience. The Alliance & Chamber is the platform – the roost – for emerging entrepreneurs to gather, and share their own experiences. It’s also great feedback for the Alliance & Chamber to build its Cedar Valley Start Up action agenda.

Believe me: there’s a lot of competition among places for business startup activity.  We, and they, understand the economic power of startups, and the culture it engenders for addressing social as well as economic issues. Your Alliance & Chamber is motivated and equipped and working to ensure that the Cedar Valley economic area is an attractive place to take that giant step – the one taken by every person when they’ve uttered the words, “I’m starting a business.”






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