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Tag Archives: Waterloo Community School District

2016 DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Award (50+ employees) – Waterloo Schools

 

Dr. Lindaman and Dr. Smith accept the Diversity & Inclusion award on behalf of the Waterloo Schools.

Dr. Lindaman and Dr. Smith accept the Diversity & Inclusion award on behalf of the Waterloo Schools.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber presented their Annual Awards on Thursday, March 31, 2016. Congratulations to the Waterloo Schools, recipient of the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Award.

The Waterloo Community School District serves children and families bringing over 30 languages and 70+ dialects, plus a similarly diverse staff. District goals include enhanced efforts to reduce the achievement gap between demographic subgroups, provide cultural competency training, utilize research-based cultural competency strategies, maximize equitable community access to and use of our facilities, recruit and retain employees from diverse backgrounds, build partnerships within the community, and schools and homes of our students.

The WCSD Equity Committee, made up of school and community stakeholders, provides linkages to diverse area communities and organizations.  Collaboration partners include: Waterloo Human Rights Commission, NAACP – Education Committee, representatives from the Bosnian, Latino and Burma-origin Communities, and UNI Conference on African-American Children and Families.

The District is a lead partner in Cedar Valley CultureFest – a celebration showcasing the increasing diversity in the Cedar Valley through food, art, music and exhibits.

The Districts Community Relations Department regularly promotes diversity across the district by sharing stories through multiple media platforms with the general Cedar Valley area.

View the video produced by Pyke Studios here.

 

View a video of the entire event, including acceptance speeches, produced by Cedar Falls Cable is here.

 

Alliance & Chamber Supports Upcoming Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools Proposals

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Alliance & Chamber Supports Upcoming Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools Proposals

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber voted unanimously to endorse two proposals by Waterloo and Cedar Falls school districts. Waterloo Community Schools has a $47 million proposal to build a career center, expand career and technical education and renovate its high schools. Cedar Falls Community Schools proposes to fund upgrades at North Cedar and Orchard Hill elementary buildings and build a new elementary school in southwest Cedar Falls at a total cost of $32 million. The Board took the action following detailed presentations by the districts’ superintendents and questioning during its January 5 meeting.

Specifically, the Alliance & Chamber approved each proposal separately, though in characteristic manner, the actions were combined into one motion, displaying unity of the regional business community.

The board also reinforced the districts’ and superintendents’ design of the programs to provide the benefits of the Career-Technical curriculum to students throughout the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Valley Wide Impact

A compelling factor in the support for the two proposals is the ability for students from outside the host District to enroll in the Career-Technical Education programs, utilizing channels already in place to ensure the District is adequately compensated for the high-value curriculum delivered. Also, both Waterloo’s Academies and Cedar Falls’ CAPS programs will easily transfer credit to Hawkeye and UNI degree programs. This is important to ensure the student can seamlessly continue work toward a degree, obtaining the most current knowledge in the field, and entering the career field at the most opportune time for the student. It also defines clear career pathways for the student, and a quantifiable pipeline of candidates for jobs in the Cedar Valley.

The Alliance & Chamber board believes the taxpayers should approve these proposals. Business and education must work together to ensure continuing growth in our economy, while preparing smart, knowledgeable, engaged citizens. These proposals, well executed, will do both. Plus, a smooth transition to Hawkeye and UNI is precisely what students need to minimize their cost and time spent preparing for a great career in the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Chairman David Braton recapped the discussion of the board, stating, “Workforce development is critical to the growth of the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber applauds Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools staff and school boards for taking these bold steps to give our students the best education in a changing world. Workforce development is the key to our economic success.”

Vote “Yes” on February 2 and April 5

The Alliance & Chamber encourages all voters of the Waterloo and Cedar Falls schools to view these initiatives favorably, and as investments in the future generations of Cedar Valley citizens.

Please vote Yes on Tuesday, February 2 for Waterloo’s Career Center and High School Renovation Plan.

Please also vote Yes on Tuesday, April 5 for Cedar Falls’ Elementary Construction & Upgrades Plan.

Waterloo Schools Career Center

The Alliance & Chamber Board recognizes the outstanding research and planning by Waterloo Schools that included broad representation of the business community. The District included the entire community in the development of a plan that matches the needs of students and our businesses. The Waterloo District is focusing the use of this specialized building on implementation of a menu of academies that will begin a student’s preparation for a career in a well-paying and significant job, or even starting their own business. Waterloo plans to implement 15 Academies in school year 18-19, and fully implement the 30-Academy structure by school year 20-21. The first 15 Academies address areas of immediate impact such as Computer Science, Engineering & Robotics, and Bio-medical and Nursing; while others start students toward careers in needed trades and services such as Construction Technology, Computer Aided Drafting & Design, Automotive Technologies, and Manufacturing Technology. These address current and anticipated high-demand skills in the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Falls CAPS and Elementary School Construction Program

Usually, the Alliance & Chamber would not publicly endorse proposals for specific elementary school construction and expansion programs. This time, however, it is important to underscore that modern education requires attention to facility upgrades at all levels of education. Cedar Falls’ student population is projected to increase significantly over the next decade, in contrast to many other locations that are projecting shrinking elementary populations. Cedar Falls’ growth has generated the need for additions onto some schools to eliminate trailer-like, temporary classrooms. The need to add flexibility in the use of the space and install advanced technologies infrastructure in all schools combines with District growth to be sound reasons to support this proposal. During the presentation, the Alliance & Chamber Board focused first on the implementation of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) initiative, and immediately connected success in CAPS at the high school level with the need for modern elementary and middle school facilities.

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.

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For further information, contact Steve Dust, CEO, at SDust@CedarVAlleyAlliance.com or Wendy Bowman, Director of Communications at WBowman@CedarValleyAlliance.com or 319-232-1156; or Dave Braton, Chair of the Board, at 319-291-1400 or David.Braton@Lee.net

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