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TechWorks Campus Announces the Launch of the Green@TechWorks


$40M hotel and training center construction set to begin with Tech2 building sale to developer.

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) – The TechWorks Campus, announces the sale of the Tech2 building to Financial District Properties (FDP) and the start of construction of the highly anticipated Green@TechWorks mixed-use project.

Tech2, an 88 year old former John Deere tractor manufacturing building, is the starting point of the Green@TechWorks re-development project. The 180,000 square foot, six-story building will house a 191-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel; third-party restaurant; John Deere Regional Training Center and conference center. The Green is a principal feature of the overall $74M TechWorks Campus river-front re-development.

“It is gratifying to see The Green @ TechWorks become reality. The project will provide our Campus tenants with tremendous amenities just steps from their operations,” said Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and President of the TechWorks Campus. “Combined with the industrial 3D printing and design center, labs and shop in Tech 1, and the fantastic new John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum, the opportunities for the TechWorks building sites and the marina become clear. These new operations compliment the downtown Waterloo revitalization and anchors new Cedar Valley developments along the river from Waverly through Cedar Falls to Waterloo. This is a very exciting time in the Cedar Valley.”

Since The Green@TechWorks project was announced in 2012, FDP along with TechWorks has moved forward with steady determination, pursuing federal, state, and local re-development financing, and brokering agreements between the developer, the City of Waterloo, and others.

FDP Managing Principal Rodney Blackwell has significant experience with downtown real estate redevelopment and is recognized for successfully assembling complex financing structures for downtown projects. Earlier FDP projects include the Mississippi Plaza Center in downtown Davenport, IA, and the North American headquarters for KONE Corp. in Moline, IL. FDP is currently developing Machinery Row, a mixed use re-development area in downtown Racine, Wisconsin. FDP also owns the river-front building occupied primarily by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier at 100 East Fourth.

“Despite the inevitable bumps in the road and some unexpected big challenges; creativity, commitment, and a lot of patience tied all the pieces of the financing puzzle together,” says Blackwell. “We are eager to start construction and look forward to delivering a venue that will compliment the Campus and delight the community.”

Helping to finance the project is $12 million from the Waterloo Reinvestment District.

A portion of the TechWorks Campus has also become the first designated Iowa Reinvestment District (IRD). The District, established by The City of Waterloo will provide up to $12M in new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues generated within the district for capital projects. $8M will be used to pay off bonds financing The Green@TechWorks. $3M will go to the development of the Tech1 building, with $1M boosting a proposed marina development.

The projected economic impact of the District is significant. Up to 562 new permanent jobs will be created to accommodate the anticipated 275,000 annual visitors to the Campus. Visitors are expected to generate $2.9M in annual food, retail and other sales generated on Campus or in the vicinity.

Construction set to begin on The Green@TechWorks.

Interior pre-construction will begin in March with mobilization expected in mid-April. The target opening date for the project is May 2017. The Davenport office of contractor Ryan Companies US, Inc. has been named to complete the project. Ryan Companies’ Greg Lundgren, Midwest President is senior Project Executive Officer.

An estimated 130 people will be employed during the one year construction period. FDP is committed to use local trades and subcontractors to the greatest extent possible. Only when faced with a skill, schedule, or major price constraint outside trades would be sought, according to developer Blackwell.

Amenities for the business class traveler.

Business travelers to the Campus will enjoy the amenities of the 191-room Courtyard hotel, the newest Marriott property in the market. The hotel will be operated by Hospitality Specialists Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hospitality Specialists Inc. has been operating hotels for over 30 years with properties in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Florida.

The John Deere Regional Training Center will be constructed on the 2nd floor to address a range of skills upgrades for John Deere employees across its operations.

Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc. (CRO) of Dallas will expand its footprint to Iowa for the first time with a property in the Tech 2 building. CRO operates more than 91 full-service and 24 franchise restaurants in 17 states and globally. CRO manages brands ranging from the traditional steak house to Tex-Mex. The Green’s restaurant will be a new concept for CRO, consistent with Campus clienteles’ requirements.

$74.1 million TechWorks Campus mixed-use development offers unique opportunities.

The TechWorks Campus site and buildings, donated by John Deere to TechWorks in 2006 is located at the gateway to Downtown Waterloo at Highway 218 and West Commercial Street. The 30 acre TechWorks Campus is currently home to University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing Center and Design Lab, Hawkeye Community College Design Lab, the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub, John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum, and Cedar Valley Makerspace. TechWorks Campus is just steps to the Cedar Valley Recreation Trails, entertainment & museum districts, and a variety of Riverloop District amenities.

Four sites are available on the campus for light industrial, research and development, and retail. 100,000 sf remains in the six-floor Tech 1 building for build-to-suit space ideal for light manufacturing and R&D tenants. Six laboratories are also available. Plans for a marina and a riverfront restaurant along the Cedar River are part of the overall $74.1 million Campus development plan.

“Identifying and attracting the right tenant and development is the next priority for TechWorks,” says Cary Darrah, Vice President and General Manager of TechWorks Campus. “My job now is to work with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber development team to help companies understand the tremendous value of locating on the TechWorks Campus. With access to University research and training, a wealth of resources, opportunities to make the right connections and create synergies, the amenities of The Green right outside their door, the Campus location shouldn’t be hard to sell.”

TechWorks Campus is a private non-profit corporation and subsidiary of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. More information can be found at www.techworkscampus.com or by contacting Steve Dust, President of TechWorks Campus by email sdust@cedarvalleyalliance.com, Cary Darrah, Vice President and General Manager at cdarrah@cedarvalleyalliance.com, or Wes James Facilities Manager at wjames@cedarvalleyalliance.com, or by calling (319)232-1156.

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TechWorks Bird’s Eye – Looking West (12.2.14) 24×36

For fourth year, UNI is a top 100 ‘Best Value in Public Colleges’

Contact:

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-2761, lindsay.cunningham@uni.edu

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — For the fourth year in a row, the University of Northern Iowa is ranked in the top 100 “Best Values in Public Colleges” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for 2016.

The ranking cites four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. UNI jumped from No. 86 last year to No. 58 on the 2016 list thanks to its high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, abundant financial aid, low sticker price and overall great value.

“We start with a universe of 1,200 schools, so each school on our rankings, from number one to number 300, is a best value,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Families can use this list as a starting point and then tailor it to each student’s preference for such things as size, location, campus culture and major.”

A full list of schools can be found at www.kiplinger.com/links/college.

TechWorks Campus Year in Review

It has been a year of tremendous progress on the TechWorks Campus. Watch the progress happen in this brief video as construction progresses, tenants move in, and events take place in  Tech 1.

 

Then download the PDF that outlines all the highlights from 2015 and previews what is to come in 2016.

University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College to Introduce Leader in Me and Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

WATERLOO, November 2015— Leader Valley, a talent development initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, is excited to announce an opportunity for pre-service teachers from both Hawkeye Community College and UNI’s Teacher Education programs. Led by the University of Northern Iowa, Hawkeye Community College, and Leader Valley, the Leader In Me Workshop will be held Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 8:30-12:00 p.m. at UNI’s Maucker Union.

During the workshop, soon-to-be teachers will have the opportunity to not only learn about Leader in Me, but also how to integrate the 7 Habits into their own lives as college students and future educators. The 7 Habits are vital to being an effective person and possessing the 21st Century skills that employers are seeking in the workforce. The college students in attendance will hear first-hand from education and community leaders, local PreK-12 school administrators, and see student leadership first hand.

“This workshop represents the wonderful connections that exist in the Cedar Valley,” says Dr. Terri Lasswell, Head of the Department of Teaching at the University of Northern Iowa. “What a great way for us to model collaboration for our future teachers.” Catharine Freeman, Dean of Communication, Humanities, Education, and Fine Arts at Hawkeye Community College, concurs. Freeman says, “We value the partnership that has developed with UNI and Leader Valley, because we are jointly preparing students to make a profound difference as teacher leaders in our Cedar Valley schools as they put theory into practice.”

Leader Valley Director Melissa Reade says, “This workshop is the result of Habit 6 in action, synergy at its best. It’s exciting for our community and schools when faculty from UNI and Hawkeye can come together with PreK-12 administrators to present an exciting opportunity like this for our future educators,” says Reade. “It’s a ‘win-win’ for all involved, which happens to be Habit 4.”

The Leader Valley talent initiative, 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 expand the reach of leadership and 21st Century soft skill development opportunities to all students in the Cedar Valley. Nineteen Cedar Valley schools are already implementing Leader in Me in their buildings, with more schools anticipated to follow across the Cedar Valley.

For more information on Leader in Me and other Leader Valley talent initiatives of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, contact Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director, at 319-232-1156 or by visiting www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

 

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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.

Alliance & Chamber Launches New Website to Showcase TechWorks Campus

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is pleased to announce the launch of a new website, techworkscampus.com. This new resource was developed to provide greater visibility and information about the TechWorks Campus, its properties, projects and partners. It is also a source for latest news and developments taking place on the Campus.

The site is a tool for businesses looking for a location where the latest tools, concepts and applications in manufacturing are being used and developed.

Visitors will also find information about the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub (IAMNH) at TechWorks Campus, University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) program, a virtual reality design center, Cedar Valley Maker’s club, and other emerging projects, and new tenants.

Construction progress for The Green @ TechWorks including the hotel, conference space, John Deere Training Center, and restaurant will be provided on the site as will updates for the proposed marina.

The website launch highlights a new logo for the TechWorks Campus, developed to reflect the advanced manufacturing focus of the Campus and its place in manufacturing history.

“The logo is based on a carbide, a highly specialized, precision tool used in manufacturing,” says TechWorks Facilities Manager Wes James who credits TechWorks Board Chair Tim Hurley with the concept. “Because each carbide has a unique geometry based on its application, it serves as a distinctive symbol of our mission to drive innovation and excellence in advanced manufacturing.”

Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub at TechWorks of First Projects to Receive Iowa’s New Strategic Infrastructure Funding – $2.7 Million for additional 3D Printers UNI Metal Casting Center

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) The Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub (IAMNH), at the TechWorks Campus in Waterloo, is one of the first projects in the state to be awarded funds through Iowa’s new Strategic Infrastructure Fund (SIF). The funding was approved by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board at their June meeting. The project, Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub – Phase I, Additive Manufacturing Center, will receive $2.7 million to fund additional 3D printers for the UNI Metal Casting Center, building improvements, and a design center to be operated by Hawkeye Community College.

“With this financial support from the IEDA and Iowa Innovation Council, UNI is excited and anxious to move forward with creating a full-service additive manufacturing center to meet the innovation and technology needs of Iowa companies,” says Randy Pilkington, Executive Director of UNI’s Business and Community Services. “Thanks to support from IEDA, UNI is building on the momentum of the past 18 months of 3D printing success to create a full-service additive manufacturing center for Iowa manufacturers. Expansion into plastics, metals and ceramics will create one of the best equipped 3D printing facilities in North America.”

The Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub application for Strategic Infrastructure Fund (SIF) was completed by TechWorks staff and a team including UNI’s Randy Pilkington and Metal Casting Center Director Jerry Thiel; Hawkeye Community College President Linda Allen, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jane Bradley; and TechWorks board chair Tim Hurley. The team worked with the State of Iowa and the Iowa Innovation Council’s Advanced Manufacturing Workgroup to finalize the application.

The IEDA funding will help to move Iowa to the forefront of technology in additive manufacturing and establish a premier center for support of its manufacturing base.  This funding is a critical step in advancing the state’s technology base and providing a central location for technology advancement.

$12 million for the TechWorks Campus Reinvestment District

Economic Development Board approves Reinvestment District Funding for Waterloo

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board today met to approve funding for the City of Waterloo through the Iowa Reinvestment District program.

The board  approved the maximum benefit amount of $12 million for the TechWorks Campus Reinvestment District plan submitted by the City of Waterloo. The Iowa Reinvestment District Program is designed to assist communities in developing transformative projects that will improve the quality of life, create and enhance unique opportunities, and substantially benefit the community, region and state. The program provides for up to $100 million in new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues to be “reinvested” within approved districts. Districts cannot exceed 25 acres in size, and must be in an Urban Renewal Area.

Iowa Reinvestment District plans must include tax revenues generated by “new retail establishments” and “new lessors”. New retail establishments cannot exceed 50 percent of the total proposed capital investment. At least one of the new proposed projects within the district must reach a total capital investment of $10 million. And, the total amount of new tax revenues to be remitted to the municipality cannot exceed 35 percent of the total cost of all proposed projects in the district plan.

In 2014, 10 municipalities submitted applications, with three receiving a score in excess of 70 points (out of 100). In June, 2014, the IEDA board approved provisional funding for the projects in the City of Des Moines, the City of Muscatine and the City of Waterloo. Final application materials fully meeting all of the program’s requirements are due prior to March 1, 2015.

The City of Waterloo submitted its final application on Jan. 23, 2015, and today the IEDA board acted to award the maximum $12 million benefit amount contingent on the receipt of a fully executed, amended development agreement between the City of Waterloo, Cedar Valley TechWorks and the developer.

The TechWorks district, located at the west end of downtown and made up of land donated by Deere & Company, would have a capital investment of $74.1 million and include three projects. The first is a mixed-use development including a business-class hotel, industrial incubator, private sector lab and manufacturing maker-space, and John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum. The second project area includes commercial out-lots such as a restaurants and retailers that complement other project areas. The third project area includes a marina for boat storage, boat sales, fuel sales and a riverfront restaurant.

Final applications for the cities of Des Moines and Muscatine have not yet been submitted to the IEDA board.

Nationally Recognized Education Reformer, Geoffrey Canada to Speak to Cedar Valley Business Leaders & Educators

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, in partnership with FranklinCovey’s 2015 Leader in Me Symposium, invites business leaders and educators to an opportunity to synergize as author and children’s advocate Geoffrey Canada brings a keynote address on education reform. Mr. Canada’s speech is the keynote presentation of the FranklinCovey’s 2015 Leader in Me Symposium.

The presentation will take place on April 24, 2015, at 2:30PM in Lang Hall Auditorium on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls.  The cost for the event is $25.00. Registrations for the keynote event are being taken through the Alliance & Chamber website, cedarvalleyalliance.com, or by calling the Alliance & Chamber at 319-232-1156.

The opportunity to hear Canada’s presentation is made possible through Leader Valley, a talent development initiative of the Alliance & Chamber. Leader Valley’s primary focus is implementation of Leader in Me across school districts in the Cedar Valley. The Leader in Me, based on the Steven CCovey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is creating leadership cultures in schools and instilling 21st Century soft skills of effectiveness in Cedar Valley students. The unprecedented scope and success of the Cedar Valley initiative has drawn attention from FranklinCovey who chose this area for one of 18 regional symposiums. Symposiums are traditionally held in larger cities. Cedar Valley Leader in Me schools will be showcased to educators from around the Midwest during the three day event at the University of Northern Iowa with tours and demonstrations across the Cedar Valley April 22-24.

For more information about the Leader in Me Symposium, visit www.theleaderinme.org/events/symposium. You can also learn more by contacting Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director at the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber by calling (319)232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

The Alliance & Chamber is taking registration for Geoffrey Canada’s keynote session only. Registration to this session does not provide access to any other portions of the Leader in Me Symposium. To register for the Iowa Symposium, please visit http://www.theleaderinme.org/events/symposium.

 

 

 

About Geoffrey Canada

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

Since 1990, Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In October 2005, Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by US News and World Report.

The work of Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Charlie Rose Show, and NPR’s On Point, as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and Newsday. Most recently, Canada can be seen prominently featured in the Davis Guggenheim documentary Waiting for Superman.

Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he was able to succeed academically, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a Master’s in Education from the Harvard School of Education. After graduating from Harvard, Canada decided to work to help children who, like himself, were disadvantaged by their lives in poor, embattled neighborhoods.

 

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The Cedar Valley Economy – Strong and Growing!

The Cedar Valley Economy – Strong and Growing!

The strong and growing Cedar Valley economy contains the right conditions for business and career success. Current economic growth and its demand for quality talent is benefiting manufacturing, business services, retail, housing, education, healthcare and other enterprises that contribute to the vitality of the region.

Strong Cedar Valley job market is creating opportunity and raising income.

According to Smart Solutions Group, employment in the Cedar Valley Region Labor Market grew by 7.4% from 2003 to 2013, slightly above the State of Iowa during the same period. As of November 1st, Iowajobs.org, the web-based job board of Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), shows 1,504 positions currently available in the Cedar Valley. Many of these jobs are in the advanced manufacturing sector. Welders and CNC operators are among the many positions available in advanced manufacturing operations in the Cedar Valley.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber recently surveyed Cedar Valley employers regarding their immediate employment needs. “We’ve identified businesses in the Cedar Valley region with immediate openings,” reports Danny Laudick, Talent Solutions Coordinator with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.  “We are coordinating efforts to match available talent with these companies or with training in the fields where there is greatest demand.”
Connecting to training

The Alliance & Chamber collaborates with Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) and Hawkeye Community College (HCC) and other agencies to connect talent with employment and training opportunities through career and resource fairs, data collection and sharing.  There is ongoing collaboration between employers and agencies to design programs to stay ahead of shifts in demand and provide rapid response to immediate workforce needs. The Alliance & Chamber identifies the specific employment needs in the Cedar Valley business community and acts as the voice of business. The Alliance & Chamber develops innovative solutions to solve talent issues. They use their network of partners and affiliate to bring others into the process.

In response to local demand, Hawkeye Community College now offers short term certifications for industrial maintenance and CNC machining programs. The CNC Machining Program prepares students for high demand, entry-level positions as a CNC machine operator or general machinist, one of the most demanded skills by area employers in the Cedar Valley. Both programs are designed to create a pipeline of available talent with new skills to fill these high demand jobs in a short amount of time.

The Department of Industrial Technology at the University of Northern Iowa also offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the areas of: Construction Management; Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing Technology, Technology Education, and Technology Management. The UNI Metal Casting Center, offers students practical hands-on experience in concepts in additive manufacturing with modern well-equipped facilities and cutting edge technology. At the Additive Manufacturing Center, located at the Cedar Valley TechWorks, students operate a variety of 3D printers, including the ExOne, the largest of its kind in North America.  Students are producing products and part prototypes for manufacturing clients across state.  UNI students are ‘floor ready’ upon graduation having had real world experience working with private sector businesses on actual projects. The Center also provides manufacturers affordable access to research and development and rapid prototyping. The Department of Industrial Technology currently enrolls over 500 students annually.

K-12 Career Training

Cedar Valley school districts are making sure their students are prepare for success beyond graduation through a variety of initiatives and partnerships with the business community.

In the Waterloo Community School District, Career Academies give students the opportunity to choose an area of interest, such as construction, business and finance, marketing, engineering, healthcare, etc. Students then take a sequence of classes to prepare for the real world of work in that field. Waterloo also has an International Baccalaureate Program which is an intensive, two year academic program in the high schools that prepares students for success in higher education and for effective participation in global society. The program includes writing an extended essay (similar to a doctorate thesis, but at high school level), a focus on critical thinking as well as creativity, action, and service activities. Waterloo’s West High and East High are two of only three schools in Iowa to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

Both the Waterloo and Cedar Falls school districts have embraced the Leader in Me initiative championed by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. The Leader in Me is based on Stephen Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The initiative teaches students 21st Century soft skills for success in college, career, and citizenship. Through authentic leadership opportunities and daily practice of the habits, participating schools are transforming their school cultures into proactive, leadership focused communities of learning and development.

Cedar Valley West’s School to Work program brings together students from four Cedar Valley school districts (Aplington-Parkersburg, Dike-New Hartford, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, and Grundy Center) to provide valuable career information and connections to area businesses. Businesses are asked to provide speakers, offer internship and job shadowing opportunities, give worksite tours and contribute financial support.

Through the School to Work program, students throughout the Cedar Valley are becoming more prepared for the local job market. Businesses are molding potential employees by creating hands-on ways for students to explore careers while still in high school. Business – education partnerships like these are helping to bridge the talent gap and produce individuals prepared for employers across sectors in the Cedar Valley.

Diverse Economic Base
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and the Cedar Valley Regional Partners have placed diversifying the economic base as a top priority of business attraction . . . and it has paid off. The diversified economic base has created jobs and helped the region weather the last recession far better than most parts of the country earning the Cedar Valley the title “Recession Busting” by Area Development Magazine, a leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection.  The Cedar Valley is not reliant on one sector to maintain the health of the economy.

Since 1996, 76% of new jobs created in the Cedar Valley have not been tied to a single industry, specifically agricultural manufacturing. Likewise, 81% of the new capital investments in the Cedar Valley were equally diversified during the same time. This diverse industrial base provides increased opportunities for wealth creation and employment in the event of a downturn in one sector.

“Most new capital investment has come from companies who have expanded existing operations here or established new locations in a broad spectrum of industry sector. This is consistent with new construction and new jobs created,” notes Lisa Skubal, Vice President of Economic Development with the Alliance & Chamber.

Adding to the industry mix is the growing Information Technology (IT) sector. In the Cedar Valley, IT consists of local start-up web product and software companies, and is among the fastest growing sector in percentage of current workforce in the Cedar Valley market area. Enterprises also see internal IT operations increasing and contributing to the growing demand for highly skilled programmers, engineers, coders, and designers in the Cedar Valley.

Conversations with technology leaders in the Cedar Valley suggest that IT employers are increasing their employment by up to 50% or more over the next few years.  This makes availability of trained/educated individuals critical. The Alliance & Chamber, Kate Washut of Far Reach Inc., and Linda Allen of Hawkeye Community College (HCC) convened a discussion between Alliance & Chamber investors in the IT sector and HCC academic and career education teams. The group discussed courses, training, and programs available through Hawkeye, and the expectations of the employers. Dialogs like this, between business and education, are vital to better understand of specific skill demand in order to offer training programs that are most relevant to industry needs.

 

“The strong job market is creating opportunities for individuals to take advantage of an increase in training opportunities and raising personal income,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. “We see growing demand across industry sectors. IT related fields, advanced manufacturing, higher education, healthcare, logistics, and business service markets make up the employment landscape of the Cedar Valley.  The competitive wage scales being offered go much further here than in most areas of the country thanks to our low cost of living.”

The cost of living in the Cedar Valley is 8.1% lower than the national average according to third quarter 2014 Cost of Living Index prepared by The Council for Community and Economic Research. Utility costs are an even greater value, at 10.4% below the national average – a key factor for companies looking to locate or expand their operations.

While the cost of living is low, prosperity is on the rise in Cedar Valley. According to the new US Cluster Mapping website launched by Harvard Business School and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Cedar Valley Region is one of a handful of regions with growth in prosperity from 1998 -2012. Our economic region ranks 7th among 170 economic regions in the country for prosperity growth. The scorecard is based on three categories of data: performance (the economic activities of the region), business environment, and demographics & geography. The Cedar Valley is also in the top 20 regions for growth in annual personal wages at 3.49%.  This outpaces the national average of 3.16% during the same period.

Low cost of living and strong personal wages may contribute to an increase in spending. In September of 2014, the latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers were released showing considerable growth in the Cedar Valley. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (GDP) grew to $8.7 billion from 2012-2013. This is up 5.6% from the previous year, according to data released in September from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Collectively, real GDP for U.S. metropolitan areas increased 1.7% during the same period. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area had the second highest percentage increase in GDP compared to other Iowa metros.

These gauges of economic health demonstrate the strength and continued growth of an already stable Cedar Valley economy and instill confidence both in consumers and business leaders. Recent announcements of business expansions reflect confidence and optimism in the region.

Business Confidence and Private Investment

Cedar Valley businesses across the region are making investments in their companies. Increasing exports, and hiring talented, productive people demonstrates their confidence in the strength of the Cedar Valley economy.

CBE Companies, with international locations, chooses to keep their corporate headquarters here in the Cedar Valley where their success started over 80 years ago. “We continue to tap into a rich talent pool in our own backyard to fill a variety of positions and levels – from contact center associates to fraud service representatives to IT, Analytics, Finance, Marketing and HR professionals,” says Mary Phillips, Chief Human Resources Officer for CBE Companies.

Based on a variety of regional data, CBE has determined that the Cedar Valley has the talent resources available to expand their staff considerably.  “We use information from both the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and Iowa Workforce Development when considering expansion.  We evaluated unemployment rates, education levels, Spanish speaking population, underemployment, average wages, and average ages.”  Over the last year, CBE has had two major surges in hiring making them one of the top ten major employers in the Cedar Valley.

Mark Hanawalt is the CEO of United Equipment Accessories, Inc. (UEA) in Waverly, Iowa and the current chair of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI). He often shares with peers from around the state that the Cedar Valley is a great place to do business. “They know about the Cedar Valley and never disagree,” notes Hanawalt. UEA has found that being part of a regional economy driven by advanced manufacturing has contributed to their growth. “Because of the presence of very large manufacturers in the area, we can utilize a common vendor base with tremendous capabilities without having to go outside the area.”

UEA invests in training and development opportunities that contribute to the personal and professional growth of their employees.  UEA provides training for new hires, development opportunities with specifically designed skills enhancement training, job cross-training, as well as a Tuition Assistance Program for employees. Highly technical positions, such as CNC programmers, machinists, engineers and IT professionals regularly participate in training opportunities relating to technology advancements and developments, job knowledge enhancement, computer software and system developments and updates.

“United Equipment Accessories, Inc. has been a Cedar Valley manufacturer for over 60 years.  Even as we have grown substantially over the years, we have never felt the need to expand outside this area,” says Hanawalt. “Our pool of labor talent is very high.  Employees are well educated, trained, and motivated to be productive employees.”

Start-up Momentum

While long standing businesses continue to expand, the start-up community in the Cedar Valley is picking up momentum at a rapid pace. ‘Serial’ entrepreneurs and young visionaries are gathering in coffee shops, bars, and meeting rooms around the Cedar Valley to share ideas and connect with resources in hopes of launching the next big thing. Start-Up Drinks, Start-Up Weekend, BarCamp, One Million Cups, Cedar Valley Opencoffee, and Cedar Valley Makers are a few of the organized efforts to support a young and energetic start-up community.

Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber, believes that “the prosperity of the Cedar Valley still depends on fostering, growing, and attracting entrepreneurship in all types of businesses. We want to encourage more people to build on our history of successful entrepreneurship, and the Alliance & Chamber supports efforts to enhance the strong, growing start-up scene throughout the Cedar Valley economic area.”

The Cedar Valley is thriving

With an abundance of good paying jobs and access to higher education, the Cedar Valley offers a wealth of opportunities for individuals to grow their careers. Businesses are thriving and making significant investments in the region by expanding their operations through building projects, new processes, equipment, technology, and talent. The lower cost of living, excellent school districts, and overall safety make it a desirable place to live, work, and raise a family.

The mission of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is to increase economic vitality and wealth by leading collaborative economic and community development. 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.

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