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March 2009

Priorities Published exclusively for the investors of Priority One

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Cedar Crest Manufacturing to Open in Cedar Rapids

Priority One and Entrepreneurial Development Center collaborate to benefit locally-founded business On January 29, new company Cedar Crest Manufacturing, writing instruments supplier to the promotional products industry, announced plans to open its first production facility at 200 50th Ave SW in Cedar Rapids. The locally-owned and operated business will create 40 to 50 new jobs over the next three years with an average annual salary of $40,700. The Cedar Crest name has a special meaning in the Cedar Rapids community, as the company will be lead by Doug Miskimen, former general manager of Norwood Souvenir. After Norwood’s Cedar Rapids facility on F Ave NW was severely damaged by the 2008 flooding of the Cedar River, the company decided to relocate operations to another plant in Red Wing, Minnesota. Only two employees made the move to Red Wing; the rest, like Miskimen and former director of operations Dave Thalacker, chose to remain in Cedar Rapids.

financial plan, securing equity and debt financing, as well as strategic partnering. “Priority One and the EDC worked hand-in-hand to help make this project a reality,” said Miskimen, now the president of Cedar Crest Manufacturing. “They are great resources for anyone who wants to start their own business.” On February 19, IDED approved Cedar Crest’s application for financial assistance, awarding the company Entrepreneurial Ventures Assistance (EVA) and tax benefits under the Enterprise Zone (EZ) program.

“We all had ties to Cedar Rapids,” Miskimen explained. “We didn’t want to move to Red Wing.” Miskimen and Thalacker were retained by Norwood until November, at which point they Cedar Crest’s location on 50th Ave SW in Cedar Rapids went to Priority One to discuss the feasibility of starting their Cedar Crest will be leasing 20,000 square-feet in an existing own company and what types of financial assistance would be building and plans to have the new operation up and running available. by early April 2009. While the company will take advantage “We knew Cedar Crest Manufacturing would be a great addition of the former Norwood employees in the area - a workforce to the Cedar Rapids business community,” said Mark Seckman, pool with an average tenure of 12 years in the promotional president of Priority One. “Advanced manufacturing is a key products industry - there will be additional training involved as segment of our regional industry cluster strategy. Having this well. The new facility will be outfitted with brand-new, state of type of business back in the area would benefit local commercial the art equipment. Also, the product line will be different than businesses and service providers as well.” Norwood’s., allowing Cedar Crest to avoid competition with it’s In addition to investigating various financial assistance opportunities, predecessor. Priority One introduced Cedar Crest to the Entrepreneurial “We actually had some discussions, good intimate discussions Development Center (EDC.) The EDC assisted the start-up with Norwood since our departure,” Miskimen said.“We received company with developing the business plan, building a proper their blessing. They want us to be successful.”

March 2009 Cedar Rapids area was approved by IDED October 16, 2008, and will have a lifespan of 10 years.

Flights Added; Concourse Remodel Underway Two airlines will be adding flights at The Eastern Iowa Airport, giving travelers even more options. In April, American Eagle adds a seventh non-stop flight to Dallas-Ft.Worth and in June, United Express adds an eighth non-stop flight to Chicago O’Hare. Airport Director Dan Mann said the airlines see that despite the nation’s economic woes, business travel in this region has remained strong, prompting the additional flights. “More flights mean more available seats for all area travelers,” Mann said. Mann met with airlines representatives at a recent conference and while the overall outlook of the airline industry is somewhat grim, he believes Cedar Rapids’ strength in maintaining capacity is its diverse economy.

The EZ program has proved to be valuable economic development tool. There were 21 projects by 14 businesses in the former zone, creating more than 2,400 new jobs and capital investments of more than $350 million. There were two housing projects in the old zone as well, creating 113 new housing units. For businesses, the EZ program provides an investment tax credit against Iowa corporate income tax liability, a constructionrelated sales tax refund, expanded R&D tax credit and expanded jobs training funding. For housing developers, it provides an investment tax credit as well as a construction-related sales tax refund. Enterprise Zone applications must be approved by the City of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids Enterprise Zone Commission and the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

“We pointed out to the airlines this area doesn’t rely on just one type of industry to bolster its economy, unlike other areas that have been extremely hard hit with layoffs and business closings, such as Michigan,” he said. In other airport developments, the $1.5 million remodeling of the C concourse is moving along and is expected to be completed in May. The work includes new carpeting, ceiling, remodeled bathrooms, new airline gate podiums, new seating, new wall treatments and improving the efficiency of the heating and cooling system. The airport is a self-sufficient facility with no local tax dollars used for the operation or capital improvement projects.

Enterprise Zone Map Approved The Iowa Enterprise Zone (EZ) program was created to assist and encourage businesses located within certain qualified distressed areas of cities and counties to expand in those distressed areas through capital investment and the creation of jobs. In preparation for the expiration of the original Cedar Rapids Enterprise Zone on August 20, 2008, Priority One worked closely with city staff to establish a new zone that met the criteria while including as much land projected for industrial development as possible. The new zone for the Page 2

New Enterprise Zone Map, approved October 16, 2008

Priorities Workforce Update Operation: Military-to-Civilian Transition In these tough economic times, employers need to be strategic with their hiring practices. Military service members are an untapped talent pool with resources not always found in the civilian workforce, such as relocation assistance provided by the government and tax benefits included in the Obama Stimulus Package. To help educate local employers, business owners, and HR professionals on the value of hiring military service members, Priority One, the Iowa City Area Development Group,, Iowa Workforce Development and the Employer Council of Iowa hosted a first-of-its-kind event, “Operation: Military to Civilian Transition”, on Wednesday, March 4, at the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Coralville.

Brigadier General Gregory Schwab and keynote speaker Lisa Rosser answer questions during the break

Over 70 attendees learned how to understand and translate the military resume and who to contact locally for help with military recruitment programs. An employer panel, featuring speakers from Rockwell Collins, Alliant Energy and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 125, discussed their experiences hiring and retaining military service members. Resource experts from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Iowa Program for Assistive Technology, AW Welt Ambrisco, Iowa Army National Guard and the US Department of Labor lead round table discussions and answered questions about available support programs. A veterans panel, featuring military service members currently employed at StratosFour, Pearson and Gazette Communications, discussed their experiences transitioning from military to civilian life. In the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Technology Corridor, there are currently 35,000 military service members, many of whom are looking for work and have skill sets area employers need.

Keynote speaker Lisa Rosser, founder of “The Value of a Veteran”, said most employers only reference the military skill sets they see on the news. “The military is made up of over 7,000 job positions across more than 100 functional areas, and 81% of these jobs have a direct civilian equivalent. From healthcare, to technology, to finance, to construction, to food service and more - veterans have the skills and experience your company needs.”

Corridor Career Fair The 14th annual Corridor Career Fair is scheduled for Saturday, April 25 from 9am to 2pm in the Michael J. Gould Recreation Center on the Kirkwood Community College campus in Cedar Rapids. The 2008 fair featured over 80 employers and over 1,100 job seekers; this year’s fair is expected to draw an even larger crowd. Booth registration is available online through until March 27. Employers who have attend past fairs are encouraging other area employers to sign up for this year’s event. Greg Stewart at Heartland Express says the fair is a great way to connect with individuals looking for an opportunity. “I would encourage any business that may or may not be in a hiring position to participate. It’s a great way to network and you never know, there may be a person out there that has skills and talent that may help you in your business.” Steve Cline with Veridian Credit Union met and hired their current real estate loan officer at the fair two years ago. “Even if you’re not hiring right now, it gives you another opportunity to create awareness that you’re still out there.”

GE Commercial Finance Expands Workforce GE Commercial Finance is looking to add 150 new employees to its Cedar Rapids location on Thomas Edison Blvd SW in 2009, bringing the total number of employees to 600 by 2010. Through acquisition and consolidation, GE was able to increase company efficiency, and chose the Cedar Rapids location as the best place to add new employees. GE currently has open positions posted on for supervisors, account resolution specialists and litigation specialists. They are also working with Kirkwood Community College to update their training contract.

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March 2009

Priority One Immediate Project List The following is a list of projects Priority One is currently working on with location decisions scheduled to be made within six months: Number of Jobs Companies BioProcessing/Food Ingredient 2 90 Food Processing 1 60 Advanced Manufacturing 9 1,133 Assembly 2 130 TOTAL: 14 1,413 Existing Businesses Assisted Advanced Manufacturing 4 330 Logistics/Distribution 3 180 Service 1 100 TOTAL: 8 610 GRAND TOTAL: 22 2,023 New Businesses

Average Wage $17.17 $16.00 $22.31 $13.23 $20.89 $17.32 $17.57 $16.00 $17.20 $19.78

Total Capital Investment* $ 54,500 $ 7,250 $ 131,350 $ 3,500 $196,600 $ 18,500 $ 41,000 $ 4,500 $ 64,000 $260,600


is published and distributed to those who invest in Priority One. • phone: 319.398.5317 • fax: 319.398.5228 • e-mail: • •

*dollars in thousands

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Priorities - March Issue  

Priority One Investor Newsletter - March 2009