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Cedar Valley R egion

Reveal the secret of the Cedar Valley of Iowa

credits publication produced by greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Cedar Valley Regional Partnership PUBLISHED BY COURIER COMMUNICATIONS Printed by Pioneer Graphics PROJECT COORDINATORS Dave Braton, Publisher Sheila Kerns, Niche Sales Manager COURIER GRAPHIC ARTISTS Angela Dark, Emily Smesrud COURIER WRITER Jim Offner

PHOTOGRAPHERS Greg Brown, Brandon Pollock, Rick Chase, Matthew Putney, Dawn Sagert Front Cover Left to Right: UNI’s National Ag-Based Lubricants Center, Waterloo; Round Grove Country Club, Greene; John Deere Waterloo Operations; Trail System in Butler County. Page 1: Cedar Valley Trail System, Courier File Photo Back Cover Left to Right, Bottom: Welcome Center, Chickasaw County; Fairbank Aquatics Center; Downtown Grundy Center; UNI’s National Ag-Based Lubricants Center, Waterloo; Downtown Main Street Cedar Falls. At Left: Inside the W at Waverly-Wartburg College Wellness Center in Waverly. Photo by Greg Brown. 

contents INTRODUCTION Welcome To the Cedar Valley! CHAPTER 1 Culture CHAPTER 2 Development CHAPTER 3 Education CHAPTER 4 Financial Services CHAPTER 5 Health Care CHAPTER 6 Manufacturing CHAPTER 7 Quality of Life Anesa Kajtazovic Russ Wasendorf Sr. CHAPTER 8 Recreation CHAPTER 9 Technology Waverly, Bremer County Photo by Greg Brown 

Welcome! Y

ou are about to enter a realm that blends a deep reverence for its heritage and an eager embrace of its future, where cultures cross, a strong work ethic binds and dreams become reality in a vibrant, growing and educated community cluster of a more than 200,000 people. Our home is not an easy region to pigeonhole into a single category, and we prefer it that way. There’s an educational system anchored by one of Iowa’s three major state universities, several innovative, achievement-oriented school systems and a business community committed to developing young minds for an expanded workforce of tomorrow. Our region boasts of one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country because it applies laser-like focus on growth in multiple areas. Our region was built on an agricultural heritage that complements a well-developed and diverse manufacturing base. It’s a region in which key corporate citizens like Deere & Co. take their civic roles seriously. Deere, which has been building world-class agricultural equipment in the Cedar Valley community for more than 90 years, plays an active, conscientious leadership role in building a region that will be competitive globally in the years and decades to come. Deere’s commitment to the Cedar Valley’s vision for the future is apparent in its 40-acre donation to the Cedar Valley TechWorks project that blends our region’s agricultural past with a high-tech future in the renewable and alternative fuels business. The Cedar Valley demonstrates every day a determination to succeed with an attitude no less evident than the scores of successful enterprises launched right here. One example among many can be found in the can-do attitude of Bob and Gary Bertch, who, with the help of some friends, transformed a cabinetry business in a barn into two thriving Waterloo companies — Bertch Cabinet Mfg. and Omega Cabinets, which today have a combined work force of more than 2,000 employees.

It is said that the Cedar Valley is “too big to be small and too small to be big.” Waterloo and Cedar Falls combine for a metropolitan population of more than 163,000. We are within a day’s drive of all major Midwest markets — only 180 miles south of the Twin Cities, 263 miles west of Milwaukee, and 265 miles west of Chicago. We are at the midpoint of the Avenue of the Saints, a network of north-south four-lane roads connecting St. Louis and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Our central location puts us in an ideal spot for building a business and raising a family. And plenty of our major employers and residents have done just that. In addition to John Deere’s sprawling network that employs more than 5,500 residents, the Cedar Valley is home to two major hospital systems, which employ another 5,000 workers; Tyson Fresh Meats’ pork processing plant, with 2,600 employees; the University of Northern Iowa, with a workforce of 1,850 and an enrollment of more than 13,000 students; CUNA Mutual Group, with 700 workers; Unverferth Manufacturing, with 300 workers; and Nestle USA, with 280 workers, to name just a few. We don’t just build better products; we also are transforming our region into a high-tech hotbed. Many area entrepreneurs have taken advantage of our region’s ground-breaking high-speed Internet and fiber-optic grids to build communications businesses that are the envy of the world. Beginning in the 1990s, Cedar Falls constructed one of the first municipal fiber-optic networks. The city’s industrial park has grown to accommodate more than 150 companies employing thousands of people. Emerging high-tech firms like data-storage expert Team Technologies and software developer T8 Webware have taken root there. Team Technologies, an outgrowth of one of the Cedar Valley’s first ventures into the technology sector in the 1950s, enjoyed explosive growth from the time founders Mark Kittrell and Mark Stewart launched the company in the early 1990s. In December 2010, the founders sold the company to Madison, Wis.-based Telephone

and Data Systems Inc., parent company to TDS Telecommunications Corp., for $47 million based on annual revenues of $10 million. The company remains a fixture in the Cedar Valley under its new ownership. As the country looks to expand its energy portfolio, the Cedar Valley is leading the way through the $50 million Cedar Valley TechWorks, an enterprise spreading over 40 acres adjacent to downtown Waterloo donated by Deere & Co. that is attracting entrepreneurs who focus on biofuels, alternative energy technologies and manufacturing. The University of Northern Iowa’s National Ag-Based Lubricants program became the campus’ first tenant, moving into Tech 1, one of two six-story former Deere manufacturing buildings that are being retrofitted to accommodate research, manufacturing and training on the Westfield Avenue campus. Planners say TechWorks will turn the Cedar Valley into the flashpoint for development of a full portfolio of new sources of energy. By the end of 2011, the campus was slated to feature a $10 million John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, showcasing Deere innovation in the region from the earliest two-cylinder tractors of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. in the early 1900s to the current generation of Deere machines that are shipped from the Cedar Valley to destinations all over the world. Butler County, one of a cluster of vibrant counties in the Cedar Valley, is home to a state-of-the-art ethanol refinery. Flint Hills Resources acquired the facility late in 2010 from Hawkeye Growth. The plant has produced more than 100 million gallons of ethanol a year since its 2008 launch. At the same time, our region has developed a vibrant, diverse business base that has kept construction humming, downtown renovation proceeding and real estate selling. A common observation from financial experts inside and outside the Cedar Valley is that the region’s multi-dimensional vibrancy has helped it to weather some of the worst financial times that have enveloped the country in years. The

Photo by Brandon Pollock 4th St. bridge, Downtown Waterloo

region’s unemployment rate has consistently checked in 3 to 4 points lower than the national average and among the lowest in the nation. In 2010, the Cedar Valley averaged a jobless rate of 5.8 percent, compared to a national rate of 9.5 percent. This is an area with such growth that there are ever-growing needs for skilled workers in a variety of construction, technology and manufacturing fields. Helping protect the region’s economic base is its location in the middle of some of the richest agricultural land in the world. Agriculture always has been the foundation of the Cedar Valley economy, and now, with new outlets for crops, including renewable fuels, farming is leading the economy in new, heretofore unexplored, directions. That’s not to say we’re all work. The region also is home to some of the finest cultural amenities in the Midwest, including one of the state’s newest jewels, the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, an interactive, stateof-the-art tribute to Iowa’s military past, located in downtown Waterloo. Cultural attractions abound in scope and variety. The University of Northern Iowa, in addition to fielding consistent championshipcaliber teams, also plays host to a nationally recognized collegiate wrestling tournament in the UNI-Dome, the state’s only major domed stadium. The UNI Panthers basketball team made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 as the Cinderella story of the 2010 men’s tournament. UNI also served as venue for a visit by the Dalai Lama and a concert by Bob Dylan in 2010. Other diversions are plentiful, both indoor and outdoor. Camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing on one of the many streams and rivers in the area and golf on some of Iowa’s most challenging courses are just among the surface possibilities. The Cedar Valley has a vast network of walking and bicycle trails that weave the region ever closer together. Cultural opportunities run the entire spectrum, to the yearly events that celebrate our region’s rich ethnic tapestry to community-centric celebrations, such as My Waterloo Days and the Sturgis Falls Festival in Cedar Falls. If concerts matter, the Cedar Valley has the best of everything from a first-class symphony to rock, blues and jazz. New venues seem to spring up every year.

The Cedar Valley region boasts the best of everything, whether urban charm of Waterloo and Cedar Falls or the rural serenity of neighboring Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Grundy and Tama counties.

There’s much more to our story, as the following pages illustrate. Read it all, because the more you learn, the more you will want to become part of it.

chapter 1


The Cedar Falls Municipal Band is a local tradition since 1891 and continues to perform every week during the summer in the bandshell in Overman Park. The local theater scene takes on added depth when the University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College are added to the mix. UNI has plays, musicals, theater for youth and opera presented by UNI drama students and visiting artists. Hawkeye offers an array of musical and performing arts in the intimate setting of Tama Hall.

A treasure trove of museums

A cultural district is taking shape in downtown Waterloo, with the opening of the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, which is the latest link in the Grout Museum District’s network, which also has venues dedicated to science and history. In early 2007, the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum, named for renowned Waterloo native and Olympic gold medalist, NCAA champion and longtime University of Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable, opened its doors. And, though it had to recover from the floods that deluged the downtown area the next year, the museum reopened stronger and to larger crowds who would visit the area for regularly scheduled wrestling events. “It’s a fitting tribute to the area’s love of wrestling, and it fits nicely within the museum district — all of the facilities within walking distance of each other — that is growing up in the downtown area,” said Aaron Buzza, executive director of the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Gable museum outlines the history of wrestling, acknowledging both amateur wrestlers, as well as professionals who worked their way up from the top of the amateur ranks. The Gable Museum has both displays and interactive exhibits. Nearby, the Waterloo Center for the Arts, which features works by Grant Wood,

Courier file photo

companies. Guest artists such as the famed cellist YoYo Ma have accompanied the symphony orchestra, which holds holiday and spring pops concerts, classical concerts, chamber concerts and family concerts. Among scheduled headliners in 2011 was the Blue Man Group, which is known for its widely popular theatrical shows and concerts that combine music, comedy and multimedia theatrics in a party-like atmosphere. Performances by Johnny Mathis and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” also were scheduled in 2011. The opening of the Gallagher-Bluedorn marked a new era for the arts in the Cedar Valley. But Gallagher-Bluedorn is just one piece in a complex cultural tapestry in the Cedar Valley. The Waterloo Community Playhouse and the Cedar Falls Community Theatre also produce regular shows that draw participation from across the region. The Waterloo Community Playhouse, which has been a regional institution for more than 95 years, puts on regular shows at the Waterloo Center for the Arts in downtown Waterloo, has a regular schedule of shows that run the spectrum, from comedies, to lavish musicals and dramas from some of the most renowned playwrights. Participation from amateur actors from across the region is one of the program’s strengths. That includes kids, as well. In fact, that is no more apparent than at the Black Hawk Children’s Theater, which puts on a regular schedule of children’s shows and has a long list of awards to its credit. The local theater pulses in Cedar Falls, as well, where the completely restored 100year-old Oster Regent Theatre hosts regular local productions. The lavish turn-of-the20th-century building, which has served as an opera house and movie theater in its long tenure, also is home to the Sturgis Youth Theatre.

Cinco de Mayo celebration, Waterloo


ultural preservation and education come in a variety of forms across the Cedar Valley. It cascades from public and private enterprises alike and paints a comprehensive picture of the aesthetic, historic and artistic values of an area loaded with cross-cultural venues. Perhaps the crown jewel of the Cedar Valley’s cultural amenities in the $23 million Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, which opened in 2003 on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. The modern, acoustically unsurpassed building serves as home of the WaterlooCedar Falls Symphony and serves as a venue for performers of national and international stature. The Gallagher-Bluedorn, which was funded by a combination of public and private money, also serves a key role in local theater and music shows. It is considered to be one of the finest theater facilities of its kind in the region. The three-tiered, oval-shaped Great Hall seats 1,600, while the Davis Recital Hall is a 300-seat acoustically unparalleled facility with a Steinway concert grand piano. The 125-seat Jebe Organ Hall, with more than a fleeting resemblance to a cathedral, features a $500,000 hand-crafted pipe organ. The center is not only home of the WaterlooCedar Falls Symphony Orchestra and UNI’s highly regarded music and drama programs, but it has more than 30 teaching studios and practice rooms to support the programs of the UNI School of Music. The theater has been host to some renowned visitors, including Bill Cosby, Smoky Robinson, B.B. King, GrammyAward winner Robert Cray, Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain and “Lord of the Dance’s” Michael Flatley. Some of Broadway’s hottest shows have been on stage at the Gallagher-Bluedorn, including “Cats,” “Stomp,” “Miss Saigon,” and “Fosse,” as well as international touring

The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, Waterloo

Marvin Cone and Thomas Hart Benton, plus the largest public collection of Haitian art in the United States, now has the Phelps Youth Pavilion, which showcases youth art education and activity programs. The center’s Grant Wood Schoolhouse is modeled on the celebrated eastern Iowa artist’s “Arbor Day” painting, which is depicted on the Iowa quarter. Inside are desks from that period, a digitized teacher and digital blackboard. A Paint Perfect exhibit allows visitors to paint pictures and hear sections of a symphony corresponding to the colors. A Digital Arts Learning Center showcases a computer-driven environment mixing art, music and video for older students and young professionals; a ceramics studio; new classrooms and an enlarged permanent gallery drawing from a collection of nearly 3,000 works.

Part of downtown rebirth

The pavilion is the first visible development in a massive downtown riverfront renovation


Photo by Rick Chase

known as the Riverfront Renaissance, which will include a pedestrian art mall adjacent to the youth pavilion, an amphitheater for municipal band and other performances and a riverwalk recreational trail “loop.” Near the area will be an elevated pedestrian plaza known as the Riverfront Renaissance. Mark’s Park, named in memory of the late Mark Young, the son of local benefactors Rick and Cathy Young, will be located on top of the flood levee. The park will include water features, including a splash pad, and a large play area for children. One of the newest attractions in the downtown museum district is the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, which was designed to honor Waterloo’s five Sullivan brothers, who lost their lives in World War II while serving on the USS Juneau in the South Pacific. The nearly $12 million museum and research center, which opened in 2009, features interactive exhibits ranging from exploring the inside of a tank to donning military gear of soldiers from various eras

or even getting a soldier’s perspective of battle from inside a trench or tent. Visitors pick up “dog tags” that allow them to assume the identity of a soldier or civilian and follow that person’s routine through wartime. Special displays visit the museum, providing a deeper insight into some aspect of the military. A display of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital operation was set up late in 2010. Visitors to the Sullivan Brothers museum are greeted at the entrance by a reconstructed bow of the USS Juneau. The exhibits draw attention to stories of ordinary Iowans who, like the Sullivans, were called to do extraordinary things in the military and at home during times of war. “From the time they opened, we’ve seen roughly 100 percent increase in the group tour business we’ve been able to book — the motorcoach business, the military reunion groups,” the convention bureau’s Buzza said of the veterans museum. “I think having the two together as anchors in the market have helped us tremendously.

We had a really great offering before, but we’ve got an even better offering now and one that not a lot of communities our size, certainly, have and not a lot around the state have.” The Grout Museum District — named for benefactor Henry Whittemore Grout, an early 20th-century financier and state legislator — is a cluster of museums that collect, preserve and interpret the cultural and natural history of the region. Exhibits trace the development of the region from the first settlers to the present. Astronomy buffs can enjoy the Grout Planetarium as the star projector beams the night sky onto a 170-foot high dome, while more scientific insights unfold nearby at the Bluedorn Science Imaginarium, a hands-on science center with demonstrations of how science affects everyday life. The past is preserved, as well, at the Rensselaer Russell House Museum, one of Black Hawk County’s oldest homes and an example of American mid-Victorian architecture. The interior features original Russell family possessions. “Between the Grout Museum District and the wrestling museum, the Center for the Arts and the Phelps Youth Pavilion, we’ve got a

tremendous asset for people who want to come in, park their car and get between the three of them easily,” Buzza said. “They all offer a wide variety of activities, quite a difference in what you’re going to see and experience, as far as the stories are concerned. But in a lot of cases, it carries forward the history of the region.” That applies to the Center for the Arts, as well, Buzza said. “With some of the regional artists at the Center for the Arts, Dan Gable being a huge part of Waterloo, and the Sullivan Brothers being a huge part of Waterloo, it tells our story in a lot of different ways.” That the network of museums have “onestop-shop” location to one another is certain to enhance their attraction, Buzza added. “The proximity helps tie it all together and helps continue that story very easily, rather than getting in the car and driving 15 minutes,” he said. “It’s a nice continuation between the three. And they all offer a wide variety for different ages. The Phelps Youth Pavilion, being a Nickelodeon Parents Choice award winner, gives moms and dads and kids something to do. The stories that the wrestling museum, the veterans museum,

the Imaginarium and the Russell House can touch a wide variety of age ranges and give us that family atmosphere.”

Deere museum coming

Soon to join the lineup of museums in downtown Waterloo will be John Deere’s Tractor & Engine Museum, being built on the campus of Cedar Valley TechWorks. “I’m excited about this John Deere museum,” said Jeff Kurtz, executive director of Main Street Waterloo, the city’s downtown development organization. “We already have such a strong cultural component here, with the Grout and the arts center, which is so fantastic, and this could be another huge addition to that. Waterloo and John Deere are joined at the hip, and this is going to bring a lot of people into our neck of the woods. Hopefully we can coax them down our way to have a beer or have lunch.” The National Cattle Congress grounds, featuring its McElroy Auditorium, is the site for rodeos, monster trucks, horse shows, ballroom dancing, BMX races, concerts, craft shows, the annual John Deere Two-Cylinder Tractor Show, as well as weddings and other private events.

John Deere Waterloo Operations

John Deere Waterloo Operations, a proud part of an American icon founded in 1837. Since 1918, Waterloo, Iowa has been home to the John Deere Waterloo Operations which includes six manufacturing locations, encompasses 2,734 acres of land and 5.9 million square feet of manufacturing floor space.

John Deere is the World’s leading provider of advanced products and services for agriculture and a leading worldwide manufacturer of off-highway diesel engines.


Cedar Falls puts its own historical and cultural heritage on display in numerous venues, as well. The Ice House Museum is a circular facility, built in 1921, which once housed a flourishing ice business. Damaged during the 2008 floods, it attracted public and private funding to restore it to its original splendor. It now displays ice-harvesting equipment and photos depicting ice farming operations. Early farming, homemaking and business memorabilia also are on display. The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum is a charming 1909 structure equipped with blackboards, books, a pot-belly stove and turn-of-the-century furnishings. The Behrens-Rapp Tourism Information Station is a restored gas station that also serves as an information center for visitors. Nearby is the Victorian Home & Carriage House Museum, a 1863 Italianate-style home featuring furnishings, fashions and memorabilia documenting the area’s early history. The Carriage House contains the Cedar Falls Historical Society’s research library and permanent and changing exhibits, including the William J. Lenoir O-gauge Model Railroad exhibit. Also nearby is the George Wyth House & Viking Pump Museum — another treasure of the Cedar Falls Historical Society. Built in 1907, the former family home of a prominent Cedar Falls businessman was restored and decorated with the influence of the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s. The third floor is a small museum dedicated to the Viking Pump Co., which Wyth co-founded and which turned 100 years old in 2011. Not far from the University of Northern Iowa is the Hearst Center for the Arts — the former home of renowned poet James Hearst. It contains a permanent collection of works by local and regional artists. The center also has hosted special exhibitions of works by Picasso, Dali and Rembrandt. Also of interest at the center is the Hearst Sculpture Garden. Across the campus, the UNI Museum has natural history exhibits of birds, animals and human history from around the world. The many exhibits from African antelope to Peruvian textiles or wood carvings of the Asmat culture to geology specimen span millions of years.


The Henry W. Myrtle Gallery carries an array of works of different media by various artists around the country. The UNI Gallery of Art in the Kamerick Art Building has permanent and temporary exhibitions providing an opportunity to view a range of artwork. The Waldemar A. Schmidt Gallery at Wartburg College in Waverly within the Fine Arts Center has exhibit by local, national and international artists. Visitors to rural Cedar Falls can take in Antique Acres, where the history of agriculture is told through an extensive collection of restored and preserved antique team, saw mill and farm machinery. Visitors also can go back in time in Hudson, south of Waterloo, where Heritage Farm recreates a bygone era with a horsedrawn hayride during the spring, summer or fall months or a scenic sleigh ride during the winter months.

History on display

One of the more ambitious projects recalling the history of the region is called Heartland Acres Agribition, in Independence, in nearby Buchanan County. Agribition is a 225,000-square-foot convention hall and renewable energies laboratory that is readily visible from U.S. Highway 20. The main complex includes two 1800s-style barns capped at the ends with glass silos: a blend of old and new. Many exhibits will offer a hands-on approach to how life was in the Midwest and how it has evolved. In 2011, the Agribition housed “Big Bud,” which, at 100,000 pounds, is the world’s largest tractor. An interpretive display, “Modern Marvels,” will give people a chance to think critically about those changes. A simulator will demonstrate how a modern tractor operates. An 1869 one-room schoolhouse will revisit education in the 1800s. Two displays for antique cars and tractors are planned. Also in Independence is the Wapsipinicon Mill, considered one of the 10 most important historic structures in Iowa. Visitors to the 1867 gristmill can view the architecture of the mill interior, burr stones, grain bins, mill machinery and pulley systems.

Tourists also can experience the Amish way of life and observe 19th-century farming practices. Shops for quilts, furniture and harness supplies, and baked goods are available on Fridays and Saturdays. In Buchanan County’s first settlement, Quasqueton, visit the Cedar Rock home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, Wright not only designed the home but also the grounds, furniture, drapes, upholstery, carpet, china, silver, crystal, pottery and pots and pans. It is one of seven signed buildings. The Richardson-Jakway House in Aurora is a restored 1851 house which was a stagecoach relay stop and also served as an inn and post office. The Fontana Interpretive Nature Center in Hazleton features hands-on displays and a diorama that interprets woodland, wetland and grassland ecosystems. Just outside Nashua in Chickasaw County is the famed Little Brown Church, organized in 1855 as the First Congregational Ecclesiastical Society of Bradford and built in 1864. William Pitts, a music teacher, was passing through Nashua and saw an empty lot he thought would be idea for a house of worship. He wrote a song, “The Church in the Wildwood.” Years later, Pitts returned to the area and saw a church had been built in that exact location by volunteers during the Civil War. Pitts sang the song he wrote at the church’s dedication in 1864. The Weatherwax Brothers made the song popular in the early 1900s. It has been a popular spot for weddings ever since. Ray Charles sang at a wedding at the church in 1942. Between 40,000 and 60,000 people visit the church every year, including couples who show up at the church’s regular wedding reunions to renew vows they had taken there. It retains much of its historic charm with century-old furniture — pews installed in 1870 and some chairs that have been there since at least 1883. History also comes alive at the Bremer County Historical Museum in Waverly, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum occupies a roadside inn, built in 1864 from native timber and brick from a local kiln.

University of northern iowa


chapter 2


units in 2005, which indicates positive future growth, Reisinger said. “It’s been a healthy market, and we have no reason to think it won’t maintain that momentum,” Reisinger said. Robert said the Cedar Valley is, in some ways, setting a national pace in the housing market. “Waterloo-Cedar Falls, I think, is probably one of the best housing markets in Iowa, if not the Midwest,” Robert said. “You’ve got stable growth, good employment, property taxes that are reasonable. You’ve got great schools. You’ve got an awful lot of positives there. We’re not seeing a lot of new homes being built in the Waterloo market, but you’ve got some building over there and that’s really going to help.” Construction companies also have seen the potential for further growth in residential work, if not in new construction than in additions. “I’m cautiously optimistic, even in this environment,” said Dave Peters, president of Peters Construction Corp. in Waterloo. “I think we’re starting to see the negotiated work pick up a little. I don’t know if it’s pent-up demand or the economy has turned the corner, but I do see it a little more positive than in the past. Jamie Fettkether, president of construction at Lockard Cos., a major construction company based in Cedar Falls, echoed the optimistic outlook. “It has stayed fairly stable throughout everything that has occurred economically over the last few years,” he said. “A big part of that is the farm industry and manufacturing that Iowa has has helped with that.” The Cedar Valley has been fortunate, compared to other markets, Fettkether said. “Here, we’ve been steady,” he said. On the commercial side, businesses see more reason to proceed with planned projects, said Allan Johnson, president of Point Builders LLC in Cedar Falls. “You are seeing more business owners

having the belief that it’s a little safer to move forward with projects they had originally slated for 2008,” Johnson said. “Agriculture, obviously, still seems to be the driving force, but many of the manufacturing sectors seem to be dong reasonably well — maybe not to the volume in the past but better than in 2009 and early 2010.” The Cedar Valley already has seen some highly visible projects spring up over the last few years. ■ In downtown Waterloo, more than $2 million has been poured into renovating the historic Black’s Building to accommodate a multi-tiered restaurant, nightclub and banquet/meeting room operations of Cedar Falls-based Barmuda Cos. Other downtown renovation projects are ongoing. ■ Plans for a $26 million Cedar Valley SportsPlex for downtown Waterloo were unveiled in October 2010. The facility will include a large field house, a gymnasium with basketball courts, a walking/running track and both a leisure pool for family use and a 25-meter pool for competitive swimming. The complex also will have weightlifting and cardio areas and space for racquetball, personal fitness studios, a mat room child care, locker rooms, meeting rooms and other amenities that will accommodate individual needs as well as youth sports opportunities. ■ In 2010, Deere & Co. announced a renovation of its Waterloo foundry that will involve an investment of nearly $100 million. The company also is building a Tractor & Engine Museum at a cost of more than $10 million on the campus of the Cedar Valley TechWorks. ■ Target Corp. in 2009 opened a 425,000square-foot perishable foods distribution facility at a cost of $90 million. The new facility opened across the street from the 1.3-million-square-foot distribution center that the company opened in 2001. The sideby-side distribution centers are the only complex of its kind in Target’s nationwide

RiverLoop Expo, Waterloo


he Cedar Valley’s construction and housing businesses continue to defy national trends, maintaining even-keel employment trends and playing key roles in the growth of the area with some sizable commercial projects. Housing continues to bring strong demand, with resale values persistently pointing upward — also counter to national trends. “I think prices are continuing to hold steady,” said Dick Robert, an agent with Cedar Falls Real Estate who tracks local sales trends. Spec homes continue to be in relatively short supply, but the region’s real-estate experts expect the inventory of new homes to improve in the coming years. “The market is at a plateau and it’s staying there until we get a change in some part of the market — I think it’s got to be new construction,” said Bob Reisinger, executive director of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Board of Realtors. Bankers say the market for residential purchases is strong. “We had a record-breaking year on the mortgage side in 2010, said Wade J. Itzen, president of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Markets for BankIowa in Waterloo. “I think gradually it’s going to continue to grow. We’re optimistic because of our continued business practices and customer base. This is a good market.” Local bankers and real-estate agents for years have pointed to the Cedar Valley’s steadiness in the housing market. While other regions in the country have suffered from the fallout of the “housing bubble” that caused property values to plummet from coast to coast, the Cedar Valley’s values have remained steady and even grew through the depths of the national recession that began in 2008 and continued into 2011. Resale values gained in 2010, and residential property sales fell only a few hundred short of the recent high of 2,500

Photo by Greg Brown



system. Opening almost simultaneously to the new perishables center was Target’s new store in the new Viking Plaza commercial development at the corner of Viking Road and Iowa Highway 58. ■ The move of Peregrine Financial Group’s corporate headquarters became more concrete in 2009, when the company opened a $10 million office complex adjacent to Beaver Hills Country Club in rural Black Hawk County. The new building is held as an example of the latest in “green” building technologies. “The most positive thing, obviously, I the increase in productivity,” said Russ Wasendorf Sr., the company’s CEO. “We saw a sharp increase in productivity from the first day. People enjoy working there. It’s humorous to me that their lunch hours are shorter. They’re able to go down and get whatever meal they want and return to their office satisfied and go back to work. We’ve had a very positive improvement. We get very talented, productive workers to begin with, so we weren’t really expecting that increase in productivity, but that’s what has happened.” ■ Pinnacle Prairie, the region’s first self-contained “Town Centre” project. Commercial development in the center


began with a number of medical and financial facilities. ■ Logan Plaza. A new strip mall with a new Subway in the area of Hy-Vee’s new $3.5 million supermarket has gone up in the commercial and retail hive of Waterloo’s northeast side. ■ Mudd Advertising in early 2011 completed a 6,000-square-foot mezzanine loft in its building on Technology Parkway in Cedar Falls and designated the space for its “creative” personnel. The company spent about $400,000 on the addition. “We think it’s a good way to add productivity and be more efficient,” said Jim Mudd Jr., the company’s president and CEO. “Working with different clients is easier when everybody is working together in a wide-open space next to a beautiful training room.” Perhaps one of the most significant gauges on the state of the real estate market is in commercial property trends. Very few commercial properties have been lost to foreclosure, according to Jim Sulentic of Sulentic-Fischels Commercial Group. The past couple of years “have been fantastic,” said Sulentic, who purchased the company three years ago. Interest rates have been at historic lows. Iowa Realty Commercial saw a 20 percent

Photo by Greg Brown

Photo by Greg Brown

Bremer County chugs along with development

Bremer County has reported a brisk economy in recent years, and county officials say they are building on that momentum. The local economy is on growth mode, with plenty of opportunities to secure new business on the horizon, said Brent Matthias the county’s economic development director. He added that Bremer County’s

Nestlé Beverage (Nestlé USA, Inc.), Waverly

Croell Redi-Mix, New Hampton

improvement over 2009, according to Fred Miehe Jr. Using an annual baseline of 50 deals, retail made up slightly more than 40 percent, office transactions 30 percent and industrial 20 percent at Iowa Realty. The other 10 percent was land and bare ground. About half were sales and half leases. “We really had the entire spectrum of real estate covered,” Miehe said. “That’s kind of how the market breaks down, too, so it was well represented.” Multifamily and industrial warehouse spaces are particularly strong. The area is lacking industrial space, Sulentic said. Recently, a client from Des Moines needing 20,000 to 30,000 square feet had only a couple of buildings from which to choose. Nine 12-plex buildings are nearly complete as part of a tax credit project near the Target store in Waterloo. “There’s very little vacancy in apartments,” Sulentic said. Miehe said the increase in the retail sector indicates a rebound nationally. The coming of Dick’s Sporting Goods, which opened in the Crossroads Center area late in 2010, had been in the works for about four years as company officials went back and forth. Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts was relocating into adjacent space early in 2011. Cedar Falls is trying to build its own new center of retail power with a development at Viking Road and Iowa Highway 58. Blain’s Farm & Fleet, Walmart and Target will soon be joined by Scheels, which has announced plans to merge its current stores in Waterloo and Cedar Falls to a new free-standing building at Cedar Falls’ new shopping development, Viking Plaza. Sulentic said developments along San Marnan, including the relocation of Kimball & Beecher Family Dentistry’s new office, add to Tower Park.


unemployment rate is among the lowest in the state. “We’ve been very resilient,” Matthias said. “The business community has been very good about reaching out.” “I’d say we are on an upturn with our economy and business,” he said. ‘We’re cautiously optimistc, but all the indicators are pointing up.” The county’s economic leaders have launched a website, careers, to bring businesses and job seekers together, Matthias said. “Business owners in the area can put their jobs in one location and people can go to that site who are looking for jobs in the area and find jobs in one location,” he said. A new school is going up to serve the Waverly-Shell Rock district. Fareway Stores Inc. just opened a new 33,077square-foot grocery store at 222 W. Bremer Ave, directly north of a previous store in downtown Waverly, adding six workers to its staff. A new Walgreens store opened in 2009, representing another sizable investment in downtown Waverly. New and thriving restaurants dot the landscape of Waverly’s business district. Goodwill Industries of Northeast Iowa

opened a new store in Waverly, having purchased a building previously occupied by the University of Northern Iowa’s National Ag-Based Lubricants Center, at 400 Technology Place in Waverly’s Southwest Business Park. The new store employs two full-time managers and seven full-time equivalent associate positions. In August 2010, Carmi Flavors & Fragrance Co. in Waverly announced an expansion project, helped by a $150,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development, that will save nine existing jobs and create 75 new positions at its Waverly plant. Carmi, a producer of flavorings for food and beverages, is building a 24,750-square-foot building in Waverly’s Northwest Industrial Park, to be used for shipping, receiving and warehousing. Waverly continues to demonstrate its vitality with a quarterly networking event called Waverly Connected.

Grundy County growth

Grundy County, which borders Black Hawk County to the south and west, is working to combine its agricultural roots with a heady business development plan,

and all the ingredients are in place, officials there say. “They all work hand in hand to grow our county,” said Kelly Riskedahl, executive director of the Grundy County Development Alliance in Grundy Center. “As these businesses grow, they play a great role in bringing people here.” Grundy County is known as the barn quilt capital of the country, and designs of nearly every imaginable type are found on barns big and small across the county. Among the emerging dynamics in Grundy County is Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing, which develops soybased lubricants for national markets. The company in 2011 was featured on the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels” for an episode dealing with bio-based greases. Lou Honary, founder of the University of Northern Iowa’s National Ag-Based Lubricants center, heads up the organization, which moved to Grundy Center in 2009 after its former facility in Plainfield was destroyed by fire. Another Grundy County stalwart is Heavy Equipment Manufacturing, which designs and builds equipment for the concrete paving industry. The HEM line

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of equipment includes a full range of slip form pavers, placer/spreaders, placers, grade trimmers, texture/cure machines, canal pavers, powered work bridges and custom-designed machines for specific customer needs. With more than 60 years of combined experience in the slip form paving field, HEM spends as much time as possible with contractors on jobs around the world. GrainWay LLC was formed to build a conveyor to replace worn-out auger systems and expensive grain vacs. In 2003, Eric Johnson, Kenny Johnson, and Clarence Sherfield started to design the GrainWay belt conveyor system. In 2006, the makers of the GrainWay line of conveyors began to market and sell a new line of conveyors designed to remove scrap from lasers, lathes, presses, and other multi-function machine tools under the company name NewGenerationMovement. The company operates in the Cedar Valley in Aplington and Wellsburg. Grundy County Memorial Hospital in Grundy Center has undergone “amazing” transformation in the last decade, according to officials there.

From being a facility that was on the verge of closing its doors, to now expanding and growing revenue, contracts with doctors and improving the overall care for patients in and around Grundy County. A big on-going plan currently is the Modernization Project which includes updates of mechanical systems, specialty clinics, emergency room, outpatient therapy, ambulatory surgery/ operating rooms, radiology, better entries and parking for all, as well as a healing garden. Other companies operating in Grundy County include Pioneer Seeds, Bacon Veneer, Ritchie Industries Delta Archery, and Peterson Contractors Inc., one of the area’s major construction companies. PCI, founded in 1964, focuses on heavy highway contractor work and has projects across the U.S. “Our No. 1 goal is always to recruit new business,” Riskedahl said. “We try to use our industrial and business parks to attract those that might be interested in our area.” Hawkeye Community College also has a satellite campus in the country, which is a real asset, Riskedahl said. “They offer quite a few training courses,”

she said. “Having them here is a real benefit to different communities in the county.”

Butler County building a new foundation for growth

Butler County, like many rural counties in Iowa, has a strong agriculture-based history, and the county continues to build on that heritage of hard work and prosperity. “We are working hard to diversify the economy and are building on the unique assets that we have that will attract jobs and families,” said Jeff Kolb, executive director of the Butler County Development Corp. Butler County neighbors Waterloo/Cedar Falls to the northeast. The county’s largest employer, Unverferth Manufacturing Inc., rode out the latest economic downturn unscathed. In fact, this U.S. leading maker of grain wagons will complete another expansion in 2011, adding over 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space, bringing employment to nearly 400. A new industrial park with a focus on transportation assets is currently being developed. Butler Logistics Park is unique in that it is located adjacent to the main line of the Iowa Northern Railway, a shortline railroad with connections to

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several class one railroads serving the entire United States. The park is near fourlane U.S. Highway 8. Already zoned for manufacturing, Butler County leaders are putting together the final infrastructure and incentive programs needed to welcome the park’s first tenant. Butler County is also home to a state-ofthe-art ethanol refinery. Flint Hills Resources acquired the facility in late 00 from Hawkeye Growth. The plant has produced more than 00 million gallons of ethanol annually since its 008 launch. The towns of Allison, Parkersburg, and Greene all have shovel-ready industrial parks with the infrastructure and zoning in place to fast-track any project. Shell Rock recently completed a new business park that can accommodate commercial and light manufacturing companies. A new medical clinic will soon be the first tenant in the park. “Each of these parks has unique assets which allows us to accommodate almost any project that a prospect may have,” Kolb said. Most of Butler County has broadband Internet access, including the rural areas, which allows the county’s businesses,

schools and residents to work, play, learn, and compete globally. Several Butler County communities are served by locally owned, independent telecommunications companies that are making significant investments throughout the county to ensure that businesses and residents have Internet access that is comparable to, or better than, that in larger cities. Several communities in the county are undertaking projects that will improve the quality of life residents, and help attract new families. Clarksville and Parkersburg are expanding their public libraries to include amenities and technology that will serve the communities for many years to come. “As technology continues to change the way we access information, these modern facilities will continue to evolve to ensure they are here to serve our communities in the future,” Kolb said. Midway through 0, residents of Greene were well on their way to having a new community center that will accommodate wedding receptions, community gatherings, and other social events. Recreation plays a significant role in the daily lives of young families in Butler County, which boasts golf courses in Aplington, Parkersburg,

Clarksville, and Greene. The Rolling Prairie Bike Trail continues to expand and connect communities from east to west across the county. Those who like to be one with nature will find a wide range of opportunities in Butler County, Kolb said, noting the county’s array of parks, nature areas, and modern campgrounds offer outdoor enthusiasts camping, fishing, hiking and more. Butler County also is home to the largest marsh area in Iowa. The Big Marsh, which covers more than ,000 acres, is located between Allison and Parkersburg. This area is a hunter’s paradise, in addition to a great place for bird watching and other activities. Butler County’s location offers residents flexibility, with close access to all the amenities of the larger cities, along with small-town peace and quiet and safety. Regional medical centers, shopping areas, entertainment options, and a university education can all be found only minutes away. “County leaders are working hard to live up to the county’s slogan that Butler County is ‘The Right Place, at the Right Time,’” Kolb said.

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Chickasaw County rides multiple businesses

In a way, Chickasaw County’s recovery from economic malaise has been literally medical in nature. Mercy Medical Center in New Hampton has undergone a $5 million renovation in the last couple of years. One benefit: The hospital was able to recruit six obstetricians/ gynecologists. “It has just worked out real good for the community,” said Bob Soukup, director of New Hampton Economic Development. “We hope to keep them here for a long time.” Meanwhile, Chickasaw has ridden a diverse base of 21 different industries through economic down times, Soukup said. “We have a pretty strong manufacturing base here, from machining parts to food,” he said. “We haven’t lost any in the last couple of years, which is positive. Most of them kind of held their own.” Among the county’s primary employers are Tri Mark Corp., which manufactures door latches for clients like Winnebago


and Caterpillar; ATEK Precision Castings, which supplies all motor head castings for Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson; and Zip’s Truck Equipment, a company which just finished a $3.5 million expansion and retrofits trucks into tow vehicles. Soukup notes all three are doing good business and adds that ATEK has shown particularly strong growth. “They’re doing real well,” he said. “Their plant is new and it’s full. They’re going to continue to get new industries.” Among the improvements made in its upgrade, Zip’s added a new video system that provides instant communication with customers, Soukup said. “They’ve been here a long time,” Soukup said. “They have tow trucks that sell for $450,000 that the federal government wants on Interstate highways that can pull a semi out of a ditch.” Chickasaw County also has aspirations to build its participation in the wind-energy business, Soukup said. “We’re trying to become part of the supply chain, with rings, rods and gearboxes,” he said.

Buchanan County banks on geography

Buchanan County is hoping to build its repuation as a cluster of bedroom communities, as well as develop its industrial base, said Nate Clayberg, who took over as the county’s economic development director in 2010. Independence and Jesup are both working to bring in new residents, Clayberg said. New employers are part of the picture, he said. “We have some projects going with 10 to 20 potential jobs to some industrial sites here,” he said. “But we’re also trying to attract people to our county to live. We get people commuting to Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. That’s the drive — to draw people back to our area.” Alumni lists from area school systems have been put together, and calls have gone out over various social media to try to lure former residents back, Clayberg said. “It’s easier to sell something to somebody who has used it before,” he said.

The Independence Mental Health Institute is the county’s largest employer, at around 200 workers, Clayberg said. But, he added, there are some budding corporate citizens in the county, including Tyson, which is building up a manufacturing operation for pet treats and has about 40 employees. “They’re still in Phase 1 out there,” Clayberg said. “As they get into Phase 2 and Phase 3, they’ll branch out more. Monsanto also has opened a research center that has “10 good-paying jobs,” Clayberg said. He noted that a larger Monsanto plant bound for the county likely is “on hold” for another several years. The county did lose about 117 jobs in 2010, when Wilbert Plastics Services closed its plant in Winthrop. “That was beyond Wilbert’s control,” Clayberg said. “They had three plants at 30 percent capacity. That’s not going to sustain very long if what you’re doing as a whole, you can get done in one plant and not three.” In recent years, Buchanan County has compared well against other counties, both nationwide and across the Midwest, in the area of economic vitality. “Agriculture is pretty big, and farmland prices continue to rise, which is good and bad, of course, and that plays into so many things around here,” Clayberg said. “Manufacturing supports ag, and that seems to be going good. I think as long as farms continue to go good, we’ll be fine.”

Tama County offers the best of all worlds

Officials in Tama County, just south of Waterloo and Cedar Falls, say their 17,697 residents have the best of both worlds. Residents say they enjoy the affordability, the peace and rural tranquility that Tama County offers, and the accessibility of metropolitan areas on all sides. Tama County is in the geographic center of a trade zone that stretches 90 miles in every direction and includes 1.2 million people. In fact, county economic development officials report, half of Iowa’s tourism revenues are generated within Tama County’s trade zone. Many residents commute daily to jobs in Waterloo or Cedar Falls. But there are plenty of business opportunities in the county, as well. Tama County is home to trucking companies, wineries, direct-to-market fruit orchards and virtually every type of business found in the region Mike and Gwen Seda of Traer opened Fox Ridge Wineries in May 2010, after planting their first acre of grapes in 2004. Tama County also is home to the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa/ Meskwaki, a tribe governed by a sevenmember Tribal Council entrusted with the welfare of over 1,300 members on a settlement that has grown from an original 80 acres to more than 7,000. The Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel

in Tama drew an estimated 1.5 million visitors in 2010 — about 30 percent of whom came from out of state. The Meskwaki Theater and Hall, which has a 5,000-seat outdoor venue for concerts, has regular sellouts with its array of bigname talents who regularly play there. “It’s definitely one of the strong employers in the area,” said Lindi Roelofse, economic development director of the Tama County Economic Development Commission. The county is dotted with numerous towns of varying size — each with its own unique features. Gladbrook, located in the rolling hills of western Tama, is home to a museum hosting the world’s largest matchstick sculpture collection. Traer, in northern Tama County, and Dysart, a few miles to the east, boast charming downtowns filled with craft and artisan shops. Southern Tama County includes, in addition to the Meskwaki Nation, the towns of Tama, Toledo, Chelsea, Montour and Vining. Some residents choose to live in morerural settings. “A lot of people are deciding to live on a couple of acres out in the country, not to farm but to live,” Roelofse said. “People like the rolling hills and having a little piece of land they can call their own outside the city. So, people can really have the best of both worlds without being apart from the metro areas of Iowa.”

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chapter 3



Campanile at University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls

Photo by Rick Chase

of several facilitators from UNI’s business program. “This is when they see lawn-mowing as an opportunity or baby-sitting or hobby-based activities they do in creating their own small businesses.” There’s no reason young entrepreneurs can’t be successful in such endeavors, Cota-Uyar said. The key, she said, is that they have a goal and develop a plan around it. “Many of them are also dreamers at this age, so they’re thinking into the future, and there are no boundaries or limits,” she said. “It’s business, and they understand they can create a business.” Such is one of the multifaceted roles UNI plays as the largest individual institution in the Cedar Valley’s educational community. Of the university’s missions is to help young students ask the right questions of the world around them. And, as a leading producer of tomorrow’s teachers as well as business leaders, UNI offers multiple modes of interaction with its students of tomorrow. The Cedar Valley, indeed, is steeped in innovative educational approaches, from a post-secondary system that includes UNI, Wartburg College in Waverly, Upper Iowa University, Hawkeye Community College, Allen College, a nursing school, and Kaplan University, to school districts large and small.

Right Page: Highland Elementary School, Waterloo


group of young entrepreneurs from Cedar Valley elementary schools met in the summer of 2010 to flesh out ideas they had for new products and services of their own invention. One was developing a plan to bring a new type of soft drink to market that offers a bit more nutritional punch than products already out there. Another saw a need for a new music store in the community. Another saw a need to open a scrapbook service. Another wanted to start a lawn-mowing service. Opening a restaurant was the dream of another. These would-be tycoons got together for a week in the summer of 2010 at the University of Northern Iowa to develop plans for their businesses. It’s not unusual. UNI has a business incubator that has been perking along for several years. The goal is to get grade-school students thinking about their future now. About 10 youngsters participated in a workshop, “Be Your Own Boss: Youth Entrepreneur Camp,” in UNI’s Business and Community Services Building — a pilot program patterned after a similar program launched at the University of Iowa’s Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship. “We have a lot of students out there at this age that are interested in starting their own business,” said Katherine Cota-Uyar, associate director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, who conducted the first-ever workshop, with the help

Photo by Greg Brown


Of note among the latter, Allen College announced in the spring of 2011 that it would accommodate growing enrollment by expanding, both its physical plant and its faculty. A new $5.5 million 19,500square-foot building, due to open in the fall of 2012, includes two 75-seat lecture halls, two 35-seat classrooms and 17 new offices. Allen Chancellor Jerry Durham believes this building will allow enrollment to grow to at least 600 students, possibly more as some programs are taught online. In a state already known for its educational achievement, Cedar Valley residents have shown active support for their schools. Going back to 1999, Black Hawk County voters were among the first in Iowa to approve a 1-cent local option sales tax dedicated to overhauling school infrastructure. Other area counties did the same. The result? School buildings were streamlined, remodeled and, in some cases, replaced. Classrooms became less crowded and new digital technology in everything from computer labs to classroom boards became standard.

Black Hawk County residents saw the results and, in 2006, returned to the polls and extended the option sales tax to 2019 with a 79 percent majority. Other school districts in counties across the area have responded similarly. The payback comes in the form of higher scores on achievement tests and ACT scores that, in some area districts, exceed both the state and national averages. There are less tangible, if equally valuable returns, as well, such as the America’s Promise designation of the Cedar Valley as one of the nation’s “100 Best Communities for Young People.” For Cedar Valley families opting for parochial education, there are numerous choices available. The region’s Catholic school system, which includes Columbus High School in Waterloo, has more than a century of history behind it. Other Catholic schools in the region include Don Bosco in Gilbertville and St. John in Independence. The area also boasts Waterloo Christain School, and Immanuel and Valley Lutheran grade and high schools. Public and private preschools abound

across the Cedar Valley, as do Head Start programs. An increasing number of area school districts are offering preschool, as well, as the state of Iowa continues to move toward voluntary universal early-childhood education programs. The ultimate gateway to the professional world — postsecondary education — has numerous openings in the Cedar Valley. UNI, one of only three state regents institutions, offers baccalaureate degrees in programs that include business education, health, physical education/ recreation, liberal arts, science and math and social sciences. UNI’s graduate sequences include accounting, global business, human resources management, organizational development and quality management. Doctorates in education and industrial technologies are available, as well. Education always has been a hallmark at UNI, and the university has graduated more than 17,000 teachers in 135 years, including about 500 each year. In recent years, UNI has appeared regularly near the top of the “Midwestern

Hawkeye Community College More Than You Can Imagine . . . Hawkeye Community College is committed to serving the needs of the community and has earned a reputation for delivering high-demand quality education and training. Linda Allen, Ph.D. Students President

More than 6,600 students will choose Hawkeye to pursue their college education. Approximately half of these students will transfer to a fouryear college and the other half will choose a high-demand career in healthcare, information technology, engineering and manufacturing, agriculture, power technology, police and emergency response, and arts and communications. Economic Development Business and industry turn to Hawkeye for their training needs. More than 300 businesses in the Cedar Valley are partnering with Hawkeye to acquire customized training programs as well as general training services.


Hawkeye is instrumental in economic development - helping to create new jobs and working to keep jobs in our community. Many businesses cite Hawkeye as a factor in selecting the Cedar Valley in their expansion or relocation plans. Hawkeye has administered more than $30 million in new job training. Quality of Life Individuals look to Hawkeye to continue their education or to learn new work

skills. Hawkeye is working to improve the quality of life with programs such as GED and English as a Second Language. For more information about Hawkeye Community College, call 319-296-2320 or 800-670-4769.

University — Master’s” category for public universities in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” guidebook based on peer assessment, academic reputation, retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation-rate performance and alumni giving rate. UNI’s role in the Cedar Valley’s economic development is multi-layered, with the Youth Entrepreneur Camp just one of countless programs available. UNI’s twin business incubators have a long record of success in helping young business owners establish themselves and their companies in the business community. Of recent note, UNI junior Nick Cash earned a spot as finalist in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2010 with his startup business, Book Hatchery, an online business designed to help self-publishers publish their texts digitally, as well as throw an online spotlight on their work through a comprehensive suite of software tools that Cash designed.

The Innovation Incubator at UNI offers campus and community participants a comprehensive array of market research services, business assistance and training, student support and educational/ networking opportunities. UNI’s Small Business Development Center is one of 15 regional centers in Iowa dedicated to providing quality technical assistance and training to business owners across the state. The UNI Small Business Development Center serves a nine-county region in eastern Iowa including Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Fayette, Grundy, Howard and Tama counties. The UNI SBDC serves an average of 400 business owners each year with technical assistance or training at low or no cost. MyEntre.Net is an entrepreneurship support system consisting of an online community for Iowa small business owners, coupled with resources to help Iowa communities support entrepreneurial development. MyEntre. Net has engaged nearly 8,000 small business owners online at www.myentre.

net and serves communities statewide with Entrepreneurship Economic Development training, collaborative EntreBash networking events and shared technology resources. UNI’s Department of Industrial Technology has been a reliable partner for businesses’ research and development efforts, as well as in continuing education. The Center for Energy and Environmental Education works with businesses to find cost-saving efficiencies. The university also has taken a leadership position in the development of bio-based products through its National Ag-Based Lubricants center, now based in the Tech 1 Building at Cedar Valley TechWorks. Wartburg College in Waverly also provides plenty of opportunities to succeed, in a small-college setting. Wartburg, a four-year liberal arts institution with an enrollment of 1,800, has been ranked at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of Midwest colleges and universities that offer the best value based on academic quality and

Wartburg College Faith and Learning Wartburg College is a liberal arts institution dedicated to challenging and nurturing students for lives of leadership and service as a spirited expression of their faith and learning. Wartburg enrolls approximately 1,800 students from 26 U.S. states and 46 countries. The college offers more than

50 academic majors and preprofessional programs. It has the oldest undergraduate social work program in the state and is the only Iowa private college with a major in music therapy. Wartburg’s leading majors are biology, business administration, communication arts, elementary education and psychology. Its medical school placement rate of 96 percent is more than double the national average. Wartburg is internationally recognized for community engagement. The Institute for Leadership Education and the leadership certification program help students discover their leadership potential, while examining issues facing communities. The college also has a social entrepreneurship minor. The global and multicultural studies program offers cultural immersion and study programs throughout the world. Wartburg’s unique four-week May Term provides opportunities for off-campus study and study abroad, internships, and field experiences.

Wartburg has 107 full-time faculty members and a student-faculty ratio of 12:1. Class size averages 21 students. The Knights’ nationally ranked overall NCAA Division III intercollegiate program has 19 men’s and women’s sports teams — winners of eight wrestling and four women’s track and field national team championships. Wartburg College is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It takes its name from the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany, where Martin Luther sought refuge during the Reformation. The college and the castle have educational exchanges. The Sister City relationship between Waverly and Eisenach provides additional opportunities for Wartburg students and staff.

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the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of financial aid. It is ranked as the top comprehensive college in Iowa. Wartburg, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, offers more than 50 majors/ programs. The five largest are business administration, biology, elementary education, communication arts and music education/music therapy. Pre-med majors in the college’s biology program have demonstrated astounding success, achieving a 92 percent rate of acceptance into medical schools. Its graduates also have one of the highest acceptance rates at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Historically, every Wartburg graduate who applied has gotten into dentistry, optometry, podiatry, occupational therapy, nursing, medical technology and chiropractic medicine programs. “The acceptance rate is absolutely fantastic,” said Ann Henninger, biology professor and department chair. The college raised more than $90 million in its most recent capital campaign, Commission Wartburg, and planning The 14th Dalai Lama at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

Courier File Photo

Upper Iowa University-Waterloo Educational Excellence Meets Flexible Schedules and more. The center also offers certificate programs in human resource management, marketing, organizational communications, organizational leadership, emergency and disaster management and management. Affordability, eight-week terms, and flexible evening schedules at UIU-Waterloo meet students’ needs and are features most students tend to like best about UIU. By including the accessibility of distance education learning, UIU-Waterloo delivers a broad array of educational programs for anyone seeking to learn new skills and create new opportunities for themselves. For more than 25 years Cedar Valley students looking for education that is accessible and affordable have turned to Upper Iowa University’s Waterloo Center for educational excellence and a flexible class schedule. UIU-Waterloo provides students the opportunity to choose bachelor’s degree programs in business, education, human services, social science, criminal justice


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(319) 232-6980 3563 University Ave. Waterloo, IA 50701

was under way early in 2011 for the next campaign. New science and library buildings have gone up, as well as a football/track complex. A 200,000-square-foot Wartburg-Waverly Sports and Wellness Center that serves the college and the surrounding community was completed in 2007. Upper Iowa University, another private four-year college, based in Fayette, has been in growth mode, as well. On-campus enrollment this semester is just short of 1,000 students. The goal is to reach an unprecedented 1,500. Leaders say the communities around it stand to benefit from that aggressive strategy. The university, whose campus is in Fayette, can be an engine of growth in a corner of Iowa that has withstood some of the state’s harshest unemployment rates in recent years. “One of the things we have had to focus on is the symbiotic relationship between the campus here in Fayette and the city,” said Alan Walker, UIU’s president. “It impacts our ability to recruit students, but also talented faculty and staff. We knew from the start in 2004, when I got here, we’d Clarksville High School, Butler County

need to speak to our university’s role in the economic development of the area.” One way to address that need is to expand the campus. UIU has done that, having launched two phases of construction totaling $50 million since 2004. This year the university has completed construction of an $8.6 million Liberal Arts Building and $7.3 million South Village I suite-style residence hall on its Fayette campus. Both buildings opened in time for the start of the current semester. A student center, the largest recent physical addition to the campus, is scheduled to open Jan. 1. Another construction phase will follow, including a science building, additional residence halls and a technology center, which is expected to continue over the next five years. The college anticipates a total investment of about $90 million, Walker said. Upper Iowa also has online programs and a satellite campus in Waterloo. Allen College, a private multipurpose college of nursing and allied health professions, now has an educational heritage spanning more than three-quarters of a

century. Allen offers an associate of science degree in radiography; bachelor of science degrees in health science and nursing; and a master of science degree in nursing. Kaplan University in Cedar Falls is a private institution offering programs in more than a dozen areas, including business administration, dental studies, education studies, information technology, legal studies, medical technology, psychology, criminal justice, drafting and design studies, health and medical studies, interdisciplinary studies, medical office administration and nursing studies. Hawkeye Community College, which has seven locations within a 35-mile radius of its main campus in Waterloo, has a wellestablished reputation for training skilled workers for Cedar Valley employers and providing continuing-education opportunities through a variety of programs, including its Center for Business and Industry. In all, HCC offers more than 52 one- and two-year programs for credit classes, as well as business and community education classes, specialized training for business and industry and classes for high school students during their junior and senior years.

Photo by Greg Brown


chapter 4

Financial Services B

Iowa. Ever since the 1990s, the concept of locally owned banks has gained momentum, defying the trend toward acquistion, merger and consolidation that seems so rampant in banking and industry elsewhere. Charlie Funk, CEO of MidWestOne Bank and chairman of the Iowa Bankers Association, which is based in Iowa City but has locations in the Cedar Valley, said Iowa stands in sharp contrast to other states in that regard. “If you look at Iowa, we were 42nd in population among the 50 states and we’re fourth in the number of banks,” Funk said. “Look at South Carolina, which is bigger than Iowa but has maybe 70 banks. North Carolina has maybe 85. Iowa has roughly 350. You haven’t seen the consolidation here that you’ve seen in other states.” Cedar Valley community banks take their roles literally, said Steve Tscherter, CEO of Lincoln Savings Bank in Reinbeck. “Community stewardship is a core value,” he said. “And it’s not just for community support

for chambers or school board members; it’s also being a leader in the community. To me we are bound to our communities by nature and by choice.” Leaders of these financial institutions make sure they play active roles in the communities they serve. They’re seen, they’re participating in an array of civic activities and they contribute behind the scenes. That’s the way it should be, they say. “I think one of the benefits is dealing with a banker that knows your business, sees you every day in the community and is your partner in helping your business grow and helping the community grow,” said Joe Vich, who left the National Bank of Waterloo/ Homeland Bank — later Regions Bank — to launch Community National Bank in the late 1990s. “They have a better understanding of your company, the kind of person you are. That’s hard to find working with the larger national-type banks.” Vich said it’s understandable that the fever for

Right page: MidWest One Bank, Cedar Falls

Photo by Greg Brown

anks and credit unions across the Cedar Valley — indeed in all of Iowa — are in solid shape and are eager to take part in the area’s growth, according to industry leaders. “I think the local banking community, fortunately, has been able to remain very healthy in spite of the recession,” said Wade Itzen, president of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls markets for BankIowa in Waterloo. Itzen credits pracitcal financial sense on the part of consumers and businesses alike. “I think part of it is just our conservative banking practices in the upper Midwest and particularly in Iowa,” he said. “If you look at bank failures across the country, there were almost 200 and only one in Iowa — and nowhere near our region. We just got our results in a preliminary audit and were just very pleased. It was one of our best years ever.” The term “community bank” is an apt term in the Cedar Valley — and perhaps all of


Pinnacle Prairie development, Cedar Falls

Photo by Greg Brown


PFGBEST Headquarters, Cedar Falls

Photo by Brandon Pollock

locally owned financial institutions seems to be spreading across the Cedar Valley. Since the late 1990s, a half-dozen or more institutions with Cedar Valley or Iowa roots have sprouted up in the area. It may have gotten its start with Vich, but he says it certainly didn’t stop with him — and for good reason. “The community banks tend to focus more

on serving the small-business client and has become a niche that often the bigger banks are not as interested in, so it’s far easier to work with the community banks,” Vich said. “It’s very much a given in the industry that small businesses are far better served by community banks that understand their business and are interested. The lifeblood of a community is the small business. And of course, talk to an

economist and they’ll say the economy is driven by small business. Certainly that is a segment that has suffered in the recession and will be the key when we come out of it.” Vich’s move to start Community National Bank seemed to represent a loud and clear statement against a trend that had come close to squeezing locally owned banks out of the market.

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Community National Bank “Customer Commitment. Community Commitment. Employee Commitment. Shareholder Commitment.” CNB also generously partners with local organizations as financial sponsors. The University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Valley Chamber of Commerce, GallagherBluedorn Performing Arts Center and numerous non-profit organizations are positively impacted by these sponsorships annually.

Stacey Bentley, Cedar Valley Market President For over 14 years, the mission of Community National Bank has grown the company from two original locations in Cedar Falls and Waterloo to eight full-service offices across the Cedar Valley and in Austin, Minnesota. An economic success story for the Cedar Valley, Community National Bank has grown from a staff of just 18 to over 100 dedicated employees who strive to be the premier providers of banking and other financial related services in the community they serve and to create value for the company by operating with a communityfocused philosophy.

Community National Bank is committed to knowing their customers and their families by name as they commit to remain a true local bank. Striving to remain a local bank has not slowed down CNB from contending with the largest of national competitors, however. In 2011, CNB introduced a free mobile application available to all customers with a cell phone which allows them to attain instant account information by simply sending a text message. The goal is to maintain a personal environment while remaining current in the evolving technological age.

A successful leader in the banking industry must understand its community and how to make a positive impact. Community National Bank prides itself on the longterm customer relationships which have been built by ongoing loyalty, reliability and competitive pricing. Not only do their employees donate thousands of community volunteer hours each year,

Adhering to the “Always by Your Side” slogan, Community National Bank reminds its customers at every turn that it is not about products, but solutions. The goal at CNB is not to sell one account or make one loan, but to become part of their clients’ business team. Allan Bangtson, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, states, “Because we invest in understanding how your business works, we can customize to most effectively get the financing you need at every stage of your business cycle.” Stacey Bentley, Cedar Valley Market President for Community National Bank, knows a successful bank must know the importance of the market and believe in the businesses that help grow a community. “I was born and raised right here in the Cedar Valley,” Bentley boasts, “I know our clients by name and I know their families. That’s what banking is all about. We’re a family.”

Waterloo’s Downtown Office

Cedar Falls University Avenue Office 6004 University Avenue (319) 266-0002

Waterloo Downtown Office 312 First Street (319) 273-8917

Downtown Office 422 Commercial (319) 291-2000

Kimball Office 11 Tower Park Drive (319) 235-6709

(319) 291-2000 33

Others institutions with Iowa and Cedar Valley roots have followed and established firm roots in the area. Among them are Liberty Bank, First Security State Bank, Lincoln Savings Bank, First National Bank of Cedar Falls, affiliated with First National Bank of Waverly; BankIowa; MidWestOne Bank; and Farmers State Bank. Larger institutions also play key roles in the Cedar Valley market, as well, including Regions, Wells Fargo and US Bank. Several local and area financial institutions got their starts as small-town banks, serving largely rural clienteles, before sprouting branches across the Cedar Valley. Among those institutions are Lincoln Savings, based in Reinbeck; First National of Waverly; Farmers State Bank in Jesup; and BankIowa, which began in Independence. MidWestOne, which is based in Iowa City and founded there in 1934, came to the Cedar Valley by way of Citizens Bank & Trust, which was based in Belle Plaine but had offices in Hudson and Waterloo that were purchased by an Osklaoosa-based MidWestOne in 2003. Iowa City and Oskaloosa merged in 2008 to form the “new” MidWestOne and followed Lincoln Savings Bank, Grundy County

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by building an office in Cedar Falls. “I think we will increase our presence in the Cedar Valley,” Funk said. “You have to be in the population centers, and the Cedar Valley is in our footprint. If you look at our staff in the Cedar Valley, it’s one of the best in the entire MidWestOne footprint. I wouldn’t say that if it weren’t true.” Cedar Valley Bank in La Porte City, which originated more than 00 years ago in Mount Auburn, is an investor in Community National Bank. Elsewhere in the area, rural banks such as State Bank of Lawler in Chickasaw County have sprung new branches. What has drawn the interest of these institutions to the Cedar Valley? Bankers say the answer to that question is simple: It’s a market for economic growth. The proliferation of locally and regionally owned banks has brought an element of competition that the consumer has to love, Vich said. “Most every community of any size is over-banked,” he said. “It’s just a reality. Everybody is trying to pick up market share. If you’re a smaller bank, it’s attractive to

move in and get a piece of that market share. It’s just part of the industry. That said, with the advent of online banking, mobile banking, you may find that there are fewer and fewer branches in the future. I think there’s going to be a trend away from more branches, as more and more technology advances allow you to do your banking wherever you are.” Bankers say there’s no end in sight for the area’s potential, and that’s good for the financial institutions thad serve as a kind of monetary backbone for investment. But banks are only part of the financial equation in the Cedar Valley, which also boasts a strong network of credit unions. The biggest credit union with the broadest reach is Cedar Valley-based Veridian Credit Union — the former John Deere Community Credit Union. There are other credit unions based in the area, as well, including Iowa Community Credit Union and the Cedar Falls Community Credit Union. Banks and credit unions play different roles, representatives from both sides agree. But the presence of both help to enhance the financial vibrance of a strong economic region, Vich said.

“The Cedar Valley is very blessed to have a very strong base of small businesses here,” he said. “They have traditionally been conservative in management. They’re run well, and as a result, we’ve had less ups and downs, if you will, in our economy, because of having those kinds of businesses here in the Cedar Valley.” The resilience of the local economy, compared to that in other regions, helps to bouy a sense of optimism, Vich said. “We find the economy here has really weathered this storm better than many places in the country that maybe don’t have the rapid expansion and the highs metro areas have,” he said. “On the other hand, we don’t experience the severe declines other markets have had over the years.” Itzen said there is room for further optimism, even if the national economy continues to slog its way along. “I don’t think the problems have gone away by any means, but we’re seeing some gradual improvements out there,” he said. “We’re just trying to do what we can to help our clients and communities we’re in and work our way through this.”

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Member FDIC 

chapter 5

Health Care I


Photo by Greg Brown

hospital brought in at the end of September. “Patients are up the next day. The typical stay in the hospital for a total joint is three to four days. It’s much quicker recovery.” The procedure averts the necessity of replacing all tissues, as in a total knee replacement, Friedly said. “It’s a much smaller area, maybe one or two compartments as opposed to the whole knee,” she said. Less-invasive procedures and shorter recovery times have long been a goal in the medical profession. Now they’re becoming reality, said Steven Slessor, Allen’s senior director of strategic development. The hospital has invested $1.4 million on the da Vinci technology and about $800,000 on the Mako robot, he said. “That’s the trend we started when we bought the da Vinci,” he said. “The big technology elements that we’re investing in now are designed to get people back to normal function much quicker.”

“The da Vinci has done that with our hysterectomy market in gynecology, and we expect Mako to do the same thing in orthopedics,” Slessor said. Similar advancements are occurring at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, which has Abiomed’s Impella 2.5 Percutaneous Circulatory Support System. It provides quick, effective treatment for heart attacks, said Dr. Richard Valente, an interventional cardiologist at Covenant Hospital in Waterloo. “Somebody comes in with a heart attack, and you have to open their artery and the heart muscle has been weakened,” he said. “You can go inside the heart, and it can take the blood out of the heart and pump it to the rest of the body at an almost-normal rate.”

Less stress on heart

The device takes stress off the heart muscle for a few days, allowing it to heal, Valente said.

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Waverly Health Center Lobby

Peoples Clinic of Butler County, Clarkesville

f acessibility of health care is a prerequisite to choosing an area in which to live, the Cedar Valley has it covered. And then some. The area’s two largest hospitals — Covenant Medical Center and Allen Hospital — have established areas of nationally recognized espertise in health care as they continue to grow and serve the community. Each year, both hospitals heap more technology on their growing foundations of improvements. Allen, for example, is using robotic technology to avoid knee-replacement surgery that could require time-consuming occupational therapy and a long convalescence. A robot from Mako Surgical Corp. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., helps surgeons replace bone lost to osteoarthritis, which is degenerative and progressive. It is a computer-controlled arm for reshaping bone, similar to computercontrolled machine tools for working wood or steel. A camera and computers on the pedestals help the surgeons tell the arm everything it needs to know before it cuts anything. The software is driven by detailed CT scans of the patient’s knee, helping the system identify what bone goes and what remains. With the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons at Allen now have an alternative to both traditional open surgery and conventional laparoscopy, putting a surgeon’s hands at the controls of a robotic platform. The da Vinci system enables surgeons to perform complex procedures through very small incisions. It has been used in more than 60 hysterectomies since the hospital brought it in last year and has potential in other surgical applications in the future. The two systems can cut patient recovery time dramatically. Workers can be back on the job in days rather than weeks or even months, according to Jennifer Friedly, director of surgical services. “There’s much less physical therapy,” she said, discussing the Mako system, which the


“This allows the heart to rest and pumps blood to the vital organs while it heals.” An otherwise high-risk procedure is much safer, and the patient has a much higher survival rate, Valente said. “It’s all done with a little incision in the leg,” he said. “It doesn’t require cracks in the chest or cuts in the sternum. When we’re done with the procedure, we pull it out and hold pressure on the vein and you’re good to go.” The procedure also can spare patients a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., or the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. The hospital has had this technology for about two months, Valente said. “The patients that benefit the most are ones that have weak heart function and need their arteries fixed with stents,” he said. “There will be lots of procedures using this device in the next year. It’s an overnight stay as opposed to weeks.” Those are just a couple of the latest improvements taking place at the Cedar Valley’s two largest hospitals in recent years. There’s more. And some of those advancements are helping to bring both

hospitals in line with two of the nation’s foremost medical complexes — the Mayo Institute and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, both a two-hour drive away. “What drew me to Allen is the level of services provided here,” said John Knox, who became Allen’s CEO in September 2010. “It really is a full-service hospital.” Knox lauded Allen’s renowned coronary care in partcular. “The open heart program drew me; I’d seen the quality measures,” he said. “It’s proved true to my expectation.” Allen has built a reputation for its coronary care, having been honored by inclusion in the Solucient 100 Top Hospitals Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success — a prominent source for health care business information — and by the HCIA Sachs Institute as among the best 100 teaching hospitals without a cardio residency program. Its innovative efforts in coronary care have included being the first hospital in Iowa and one of the first in the nation to implant what was the world’s smallest dual-chamber implantabe defibrillator into a patient to correct an irregular heartbeat in 2000. Allen Hospital operates two cardiac

catheterization laboratories updated in recent years with state-of-the-art technology. Allen doctors and nurses can see hearts and blood vessels faster, easier and clearer than ever. The new Allen cath labs mean patients get better results with less radiation. As of February 2011, Allen surgeons had performed more than 4,000 open-heart procedures. Allen’s Heart Center also offers HeartAware, a free seven-minute cardiovascular assessment to evaluate one’s risk of developing heart disease. The program also has interactive animations that visually walk patients through nine conditions or procedures and has information related to more than 100 cardiovascular conditions and procedures, as well as preventative measures. It recently has been paired with a new program, StrokeAware. Allen also was one of the first Iowa hospitals to offer an angina treatment called enhanced external counter-pulsation, or EECP, a noninvasive procedure with a seemingly simple concept: increase the pressure of blood flow back to the heart to allow for maximum blood flow in the coronary blood vessels. The effect is what researchers call a “physiologic

Waverly Health Center – Waverly Community Hospital Continues Growth Expanding Care Through Clinics Waverly Health Center is able to provide specialized care to patients from Waverly and the surrounding areas through family practice and specialty clinics. Each clinic offers a personalized experience and treatment depending on your needs.

New Providers The strong growth of the hospital is reflected in the increasing number of active medical staff members.

Family Practice Clinics • Christophel Clinic • Nashua Clinic • Shell Rock Clinic • Walk-In Clinic

Waverly Health Center continues to recruit providers that perform specialized services. Our medical staff consists of doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Specialty Clinics • Audiology • Cardiology • Dermatology • Ear, Nose and Throat • General Surgery • Nephrology • Orthopedics • Physical Medicine • Pulmonology • Urology • Women’s Health


Our providers bring with them a deep dedication and compassion for the patients they serve. WHC Providers Specialize in: • Anesthesia • Emergency Services • Family Practice • General Surgery • Orthopedic Surgery • Pediatrics • Women’s Health

Focused on Patient-Centered Care As a Planetree Designated hospital, Waverly Health Center continues to look for unique ways that enhance a patient’s health care experience. We focus on healing the body, mind and spirit. Unique Services and Surroundings • Integrative Therapies • Nature Elements Incorporated into Architectural Design • Strong Focus on Patient Involvement and Education

(319) 352-4120 312 9th St. SW, Waverly, IA 50677

coronary bypass.” In its cardiac rehabilitation program, Allen guides patients through a 12-week course in heart-friendly living, diet and exercise to stress management. In only the last two years, Allen has exceeded all 22 national quality indicators and brought in an advanced CT scanner — the most powerful in Iowa — as well as introduced the da Vinci surgery system. The hospital also opened a new emergency department and new centers for heart/vascular treatment and neurology. Covenant, meanwhile, has placed itself at the forefront of cancer treatment since it developed its “Center for Hope,” Iowa’s first stand-alone cancer treatment center, in 1988. The Covenant Cancer Treatment has been granted a three-year approval with commendation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. That is the highest approval rating it issues; only 20 percent of the nation’s cancer treatment centers receive the honor. Most recently, Covenant’s Comprehensive Breast Center was granted a three-year/full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers,

a program administered by the American College of Surgeons. The Covenant center was recognized for its multidisciplinary care, such as radiation and chemotherapy treatment, support groups and other specialized care. Those services are offered along with opportunities for patients to visit with a dietitian and social workers. Covenant also is the only cancer treatment center in Iowa providing transportation for patients who can’t get there on their own. Covenant also is home to the Iowa Spine and Brain Institute, which opened in September 2005, as a stand-alone center, the first of its kind in the region to establish a comprehensive approach to caring for patients with spine and brain health care concerns. In 2010, the center was designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery and a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Covenant also has a full-time cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology. The hospital also has a pediatric cardiologist and a team of highly skilled interventional cardiologists.

Building on strengths

Both hospitals have been building on their

strengths — committing a combined $100 million in the first 10 years of the 21st century — with new and expanded health facilities on top of huge recent investments. Covenant completed a $40 million, 180,000square-foot-plus expansion and renovation in 2005 with a new women’s diagnostic center; labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum area; pediatrics; neonatal intensive care unit; and expansion in the ambulatory surgery and outpatient clinic areas. The project included 100,000 square feet for a building addition, a 20 percent expansion in the hospital’s size. In 2004, Allen Hospital completed a $10.5 million expansion project. Psychiatric care, a pharmacy and a women’s health center are on the first floor. Internal medicine and a new vascular clinic and wound clinic occupy three of the four second-floor suites. The third floor has a new 212,000-square-foot level II birthing center. Allen also recently opened an emergency center that doubled emergency room size and houses the Heart and Vascular Center. The new cardiac center has two cardiac catheterization labs, one electrophysiology lab, pre- and post-procedure treatment areas,

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare For all your health care needs, at every time of life Taking great care of our community is what Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare associates, medical staff, volunteers and auxilians strive to do each and every day. It is our Mission and it is the very fabric of what makes us Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. We are very proud of the work that we do for you and your family - it is a commitment that we have continually made to the communities we serve. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare’s family of care includes Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Mercy Hospital in Oelwein, Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls, and Covenant Clinic’s 22 locations throughout Northeast Iowa. Ours is the area’s largest provider network, made up of 60 Primary Care physicians in Family Practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics plus more than 40 specialists. Our family of care means you have access to knowledgeable, dedicated, and neighborly health care experts who are among the nation’s best, practically right next door.

Areas of expertise offered by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare include: • Comprehensive and accredited cancer care at Covenant Cancer Treatment Center • Level II Trauma Facility at Covenant Medical Center • Level II Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit • Premiere Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Center • Comprehensive center treating spine and brain conditions at the Iowa Spine & Brain InstituteTM • Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence at the Midwest Institute of Advanced Laparoscopic SurgeryTM • State-of-the-art Cardiac Care • Orthopedics • Occupational Medicine and Wellness • Covenant Home Health • Comprehensive Inpatient and Outpatient Behavioral Health Services

• Nurse On Call physician referral and health information community resource • Women’s & Outpatient Center Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare is committed to continued investments in technology and human resources. We continue to be thankful for our exceptional and dedicated associates and physicians. Thank you to our patients and families for making the choice to receive health care services right here in the Cedar Valley from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. For more information about Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare services visit


million addition in 2005. It expanded its services with 42 new medical personnel and 26 new specialty clinics. Physical therapy, which includes cardiac rehabilitation, found a home in remodeled space. The expansion also included a specialty clinic area for doctors traveling from Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Marshalltown. Buchanan County Health Center in Independence added a $2.5 million wellness and therapy center in 2004. It included a walking track, exercise equipment and a fourlane lap pool, among other amenities. Besides helping cardiovascular patients and those with other injuries recover, the hospital plans to sell memberships to the public to encourage prevention of serious health problems. Mercy Medical Center in New Hampton, a member of Mercy Health Network, offers a full range of services in an inpatient and outpatient setting, as well as 24-hour emergency care, surgical services, obstetrics and family health, therapy and rehabilitation, diagnostic services, home health and hospice. It offers convenient access to 17 different specialties from a 44-member medical staff. Mercy has been a pioneer in telemedicine,one of eight sites in Iowa to first give patients access to specialists in remote locations with two-way interactive video equipment.

Photo by Greg Brown

million in hospital improvements in 2004, adding 90,000 square feet — a 75 percent increase — including 25 single-patient rooms, a retail pharmacy, four additional operating rooms, expanded radiology areas and new birth rooms. WHC has been designated as one of the nation’s top 35 critical access hospitals in LarsonAllen’s “Critical Access Hospital Gold Standard Performance Summary,” recognizing its overall economic vitality through attention to physician relations, costmanagement and market share for a mix of medical and surgical services. It was chosen among more than 750 other critical access hospitals. Also in Bremer County, Sumner’s Community Memorial Hospital has an affiliation agreement with Allen, which is designed to help it attract additional services and health care providers. A survey by Press Ganey, the health care industry’s leading satisfaction measurement and improvement firm, found Community Memorial Hospital patients ranked it in the 99th percentile against 275 hospitals of similar size and in the 99th percentile against 1,136 hospitals across the country. The county-owned Grundy County Memorial Hospital, which also has a relationship with Allen, completed a $6

Across the Cedar Valley

The region also has seen recent major renovations at other hospitals. The Waverly Health Center had $16.8 Peoples Clinic of Butler County, Clarkesville


Photo by Greg Brown

Right page: Covenant Medical Center, Waterloo

cardiac rehabilitation outpatient diagnostics, sleep study rooms and office and education space. Convenant also has made a $10 million investment in renovations at Sartori Memorial Hospital. A big change in 2011 was the addition of a new magnetic resonance imaging unit, replacing mobile equipment that had been in use at Sartori four days a week. The new system has a larger opening, making it easier for patients to get in and to undergo scans. “The addition of an MRI is a huge boon for Sartori Memorial Hospital and Cedar Falls,” said Frank Barby, director of imaging services. The new unit is used to scan head, neck, spine, breast, heart, abdomen, pelvis, joints, prostate, blood vessels and musculoskeletal regions. In 2004, Sartori was named as one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals by health-care solutions consultant Solucient for achieving excellence in quality care, operations efficiency, financial performance and adaptation to the environment. Sartori’s focus is on primary care, eyes, orthopedics and general surgical procedures, as well as being an emergency responder for the community. Covenant combined its occupational health program with Sartori’s initiated gastroenterologist and endoscopy programs and added the eye program with Wolfe Clinic and other ophthalmologists. Also in Cedar Falls, both Allen and Covenant have added health-care facilities at Pinnacle Prairie, a new planned community development. Locally owned and growing, Cedar Valley Medical Specialists PC is an example of the specialist practice groups that are an important part of the health care system of the Cedar Valley. CVMS is comprised of more than 50 physicians in 20 medical fields. The specialist practice group serves patients in facilities across the Cedar Valley, including an advanced diagnostic imaging center, breast care center, along with kidney dialysis and physical therapy services.


chapter 6

Manufacturing P


Photo by Greg Brown

that marked the company’s 90th anniversary in Waterloo. That connection keeps growing more solid as the years roll by, community business leaders note. “The Cedar Valley and John Deere are joined at the hip,” said Jeff Kurtz, executive director of Main Street Waterloo, an organization whose sphere of influence is downtown Waterloo, near which Deere’s new Tractor & Engine Museum is going up on the campus of Cedar Valley TechWorks. The numbers would seem to indicate Deere’s importance to a diverse Cedar Valley manufacturing economy. The large rowcrop tractors manufactured at the company’s Waterloo operations — still the largest tractor-manufacturing operation in the world — contributed to a strong finish for the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31, 2010. Instrumental in that performance was the introduction of the new Waterloo-designed and manufactured 8R series tractors. And Deere officials say they’re always looking for

ways to improve their Waterloo operations. New and improved R series tractors were to reach the market starting in 2011, said Thad Nevitt, factory manager in Waterloo. “That’s been a very successful product for us,” Nevitt said. In 2010, Deere made a near-$100 million commitment to the Cedar Valley by launching a four-year modernization of its Waterloo foundry operations. That followed a $125 million redevelopment of Deere’s drivetrain and tractor manufacturing operaitons from 2000-07 and another $187 million investment starting in 2008 to increase manufacturing capacity at the Waterloo Works. Add to that a $17 million donation of land, buildings and technical assistance to create the Cedar Valley TechWorks ag product development complex on former Deere property at the company’s Westfield site. Deere’s Waterloo operations today are spread out over six plants throughout the metro area and draw its approximately 5,500 employees from all over the area.

Photo by Greg Brown

Allan Industrial Coatings, Allison

UNI’s National Ag-Based Lubricants Center, Waterloo

erhaps no event in recent times showcased the pride in craftsmanship that comes to the fore every day in the Cedar Valley’s manufacturing sector than Deere & Co.’s first Fall Fest in September 2010 in Waterloo. Some 52 participants — one of whom brought 12 tractors from Montana — lined up their vintage John Deere machines from downtown Waterloo to Deere’s East Donald Street plant on a cool, dew-saturated morning to launch the event. “The turnout was actually a little bit more than we expected,” said Mary Swehla, Deere’s supervisor of visitor services and public relations in Waterloo. “We had eight walk-ins this morning that we added in. Three people drove their tractors in this morning, so we were absolutely thrilled that we got this kind of turnout. They’re just happy that they could get in with the rest of the group to participate.” After all the machines had been lined up at the company’s main plant, participants gathered for a tour of the facility. The pride in the quality that went into all the machines on display — and all of which were manufactured in the Cedar Valley — was swelling among all the participants, and they all voiced extreme eagerness to take part in the plant tour that was to follow the parade. “It’s just to get them into the factory, to give them an experience to be able to come here while they’re here, and then we set up a special tour for them as our special guests and give them some special attention,” Swehla said of the participants, who after the parade and tour, gathered their machines for a weekend-long expo in downtown Waterloo. “That’s kind of what it’s all about is giving them special attention for collecting and restoring their tractors and being able to share them with the public,” Swehla said. The Fall Fest was Deere celebrating a half-century of its New Generation tractors. It came just two years after the Moline, Ill.based company staged a massive celebration


Kryton Engineered Metals Reliability. Effort. Attitude. Craftmanship. Hard Work. Kryton comes from a combination of two Greek words out of the Greek mythology: Kartos refers to metal and Triton refers to strength. We live in a time when the world has grown smaller but also a great deal more complicated. It is clear that the pace of change in the world is increasing at an alarming rate. KRYTON ENGINEERED METALS (formerly Iowa Metal Spinners) is dedicated to meeting the changing needs of our industrial and manufacturing customers. KRYTON maintains a staff of specialists who can help un-clutter your changing manufacturing needs. What started out as a dream has been transformed into a state of the art manufacturing company, KRYTON has morphed into a leader of spun metal component and fabrication parts. Kryton was established in 1981 and in its’ short 30 plus years has been able to commit itself to serve its customers with a “Make it Happen” attitude. Our manufacturing plant represents a tremendous investment in machinery and technology, but, in the end, the parts are built by people and they are the most important part of the process. Our manufacturing team is made up of skilled, committed employees, each dedicated to the highest standard of workmanship and quality. • 7314 Chancellor Dr., Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613 • Phone 319-266-1771


A diverse manufacturing base

Deere’s presence also is shown in the presence of a network of manufacturing

Photo by Greg Brown

partners across the Cedar Valley. One of those suppliers is Adams Thermal Systems, which supplies off-road cooling modules to Deere. The Canton, S.D.based manufacturer, which assembles and tests engine cooling modules for Deeremanufactured off-road vehicles in the U.S. and abroad, started a multi-phased expansion of its operation in 00, building a 0,000square-foot manufacturing plant in Cedar Falls. The company was looking to add to its workforce, having gone from three to seven by the end of 00 and looking to add more in the future. “Initially, we’ll add 0 new positions and, of course, from there, I’d expect us to continue to grow,” Mike Adams, chief executive officer, said when he announced the expansion in a new company-owned plant. The total project has an estimated value of about $. million, according to Cedar Falls officials. The Cedar Valley is a healthy manufacturing base, said Greg Kiehn, operations manager at the Cedar Falls plant. “In this area, it’s the ag industry that affects us,” he said. “It’s been good, and that’s why

United Equipment Accessories, Waverly

The Waterloo operations produce the company’s 7000, 8R — formerly known as 8000 — and 9000 series tractors, plus the Deere Engine Works produces engines for products companywide. “That’s an important part of the John Deere landscape here in Waterloo — a critical partner,” Nevitt said. “All of us really are on the same team here.” There are other quality-of-life contributions from Deere that continue to enhance the quality of life in the Cedar Valley. One example is the John Deere Foundation’s recent donation of $. million to the proposed SportsPlex recreation project in downtown Waterloo. Another example: Deere and its workforce combined to give more than $ million to the Cedar Valley United Way for a third year in a row in 00. And, the company also is building a $0 million Tractor & Engine Museum on the TechWorks campus. Such investments indicate more than Deere’s commitment to its own operations in the Cedar Valley; they’re a sign that the company is firmly committed to the area it has called home since 98.

Waterloo Warehousing Co., Inc. The right product, to the right place, at the right time! Waterloo Warehousing and Services is a leader in the logistics management industry providing the highest quality, and lowest cost solutions. WWSC’s expertise circles the globe with satisfied customers in domestic and international markets. Our services include warehousing, transportation, fulfillment and returns, hazardous materials handling, packaging, cross docking plus inspection/sort and reclaim. Since 1983 we’ve proven to give your company the extra competitive advantage vital to on-time supply chain solutions. Kevin L. Hemmen President

OUR MISSION To be committed to profitability providing our customers with Warehousing, Transportation and Services that meet or exceed their expectations of Quality and Timeliness. • ISO9001:2008 Certified • Intertek Certified • ANAB Accredited

www.wwscu Four Waterloo locations with headquarters at 324 Duryea Street, Waterloo, IA 50701 319-236-0467

Terex Cranes, Waverly

Photo by Greg Brown

we’re in decent shape.” The expansion comes at a good time for the company, Kiehn said. “We’re busy, he said. “Things are running pretty smoothly.” Another Deere supplier, Black Hawk Engineering, has expanded its own operation in 2011 with a 30,000-square-foot addition to its Cedar Falls production and shipping facility in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, at total cost of about $1.8 million. The company, which produces differential housing for drive trains that go into heavy equipment manufactured by Deere and Caterpillar Inc., also invested in new equipment costing about $2.5 million to $3.5 million, in the expansion, according to sales manager Mike Ehlers. The expansion also created an immediate need for Blackhawk to hire 12 computerassisted numerical control (CNC) machine operators. The machines are used in milling and turning operations, with a minimum of eight more new workers to come up subsequently. The expansion increased production capacity by about 30 percent, Ehlers said. “Right now, our biggest problem is keeping

up with current production and finding employees,” Ehlers said in January 2011. The area’s agriculture-based economy looks to create more opportunities as the TechWorks project progresses. TechWorks officials say the revamped former Deere property could bring as many as 1,000 workers. On the other end of the food supply chain, Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra operates a plant in Waterloo that manufactures pudding and employs 144 workers. “That’s a brand that’s strong,” ConAgra spokesman Dave Jackson said of the pudding that comes out of the Waterloo operation, which opened in 1997. “We feel we have a protfolio of brands that’s well suited to the current economic climate.” When ConAgra’s facility near the Waterloo Regional Airport went up in the late 1990s, it won an award for its cutting-edge technology from Food Engineering magazine. The company in recent years has doubled its plant size and expanded its manufacturing capacity. Tyson Fresh Meats is the area’s secondlargest manufacturing employer, with a work force of around 2,200. The plant, in Waterloo, a former IBP facility that opened in 1990,

Iowa Laser Technology Profound integrity and impressive work ethic Iowa Laser Technology is a laser-based contract manufacturer of metal fabrications, founded in 1978. As one of the pioneers in the United States for utilizing lasers in manufacturing processes, Iowa Laser brings the Cedar Valley advanced manufacturing technology through its utilization of up-to-date equipment and software, best practice methods, and the skill and dedication of over 200 employees. Iowa Laser is a privately held company sup-


plying over 350 customers annually, spanning several countries around the world. Like many businesses of the Cedar Valley, Iowa Laser Technology embraces the spirit of two simple Midwestern traits, profound integrity and impressive work ethic. These traits are put to work in our 170,000 square feet of manufacturing space located in the Cedar Falls Industrial and Technology Park.

Iowa Laser provides laser cutting, laser welding and laser heat treating services, along with metal forming, machining and conventional welding services, supported by an ISO 9001:2008 quality system. Offering its manufacturing efficiencies to a diverse range of industries, Iowa Laser’s customers include businesses in the agricultural, construction, mining, forestry, fitness and food service industries.

7100 Chancellor Drive, Cedar Falls Contact us at (319) 266-3561 or visit us online at

John Deere Waterloo Operations

marked its 20th anniversary with a celebration in May 2010. As important as agriculture and its allied industries are to the Cedar Valley, the region’s manufacturing base transcends that field. As an example, Advanced Heat Treat in Waterloo uses ion nitriding to heat treat industrial parts for a variety of applications. In fact, in 2010, the company, which was founded in 1981 by former Deere engineer Gary Sharp, received a nearly $150,000 shot of grant money to help it work with Ohio State University’s Manufacturing Research Group to research plasma-enhanced nanostructured surfaces for gray cast iron stamping dies. “Stamping dies are experiencing more wear with higher stress, and this will test a process that will combat those stresses,” said Cassandra Loecke, market research analyst with Advanced Heat Treat. The Cedar Falls-based Viking Pump division of IDEX Inc., a manufacturer of

Courtesy Photo

industrial pumps for global distribution, marked its 100th anniversary in 2011. The company employs 500 local workers. The Cedar Valley also is known as a center of cabinet manufacturing, with two companies that sprang from one family. Brothers Bob and Gary Bertch began making cabinets out of a barn near Washburn in rural Black Hawk County. Gary and his wife, Becky, launched Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing; Bob founded Omega Cabinets, which was purchased by Fortune Brands in 2002. Both companies have grown over the years and today combine to employ more than 2,000 workers. Waverly-based Doerfer Cos./TDS Automation provides custom turnkey manufacturing automation and has developed the Wheelift Heavy Transporter, which provides customers an ability to maneuver heavy loads in highly congested areas and was designed for moving heavy precision

tooling fixtures and scaffolding structures. It’s a lot of Dave Takes’ vision, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance CEO Steve Dust said of David Takes, president and CEO of Doerfer Cos./TDS Automation. “It’s one of those quiet companies that already has a national reputation and is a growing firm. If you had to look at a firm that has a lot of potential both in skill talent and additional growth in the Cedar Valley, it’s Doerfer.”

Sports-related manufacturers flourish

Cedar Valley manufacturers also reach into the realm of sports, with equipment and attire. Standard Golf, which produces golf course equipment, including tee markers, greens cubs, flags and ball washers, for customers worldwide, marked its centennial in 2010. Equipment manufactured at the Cedar Falls company has made its way to some of


the most prestigious courses in the world, including Augusta National in Georgia, home of the Masters. Walt Voorhees founded Standard Golf in 1910. The company today employs around 50 workers, and another 10 work for offshoot company Standard Screen Print. The company survived a devastating fire in 1992 and moved to its current home in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park. But Standard Golf isn’t the only Cedar Valley manufacturer with a global reach in the world of sports. Powers Manufacturing, which will mark its 110th anniversary in business in 2012, outfits a long roster of high school and college teams, including the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. The Waterloo-based company, which employs about 180 people, uses its own and the Nike brand, and has even outfitted both teams in the Army-Navy football game with special commemorative uniforms. Craft-Cochran Inc. in Waterloo is a fullservice print shop and provides an array of services, including screen-printing, embroidery, digitizing, heatset, full-color banners, vinyl graphics, promotional items,

sporting equipment and other products.

Rural communities support manufacturing

Manufacturing plays a major role in a number of Cedar Valley rural commuities. In fact, the manufacturing sector accounts for about 12 percent of the local economy in Waverly, which has a population of just under 10,000. A number of sizable companies have operations in Bremer County’s largest city, about 25 miles northeast of Cedar Falls and Waterloo. Nestle has been a presence in the town since buing Carnation in 1985 and taking over the Waverly plant that had been operating since the 1920s, when it was turning fresh milk into evaporated milk. The plant evolved to producing powdered milk and, today, the Nesle plant makes dry beverage mixes, including Carnation Instant Breakfast, Coffee-mate Latte, iced tea and hot chocolate. Another longtime corporate citizen in Waverly’s manufacturing base is Terex Cranes, which makes rough-terrain cranes, boom trucks and heavy-duty truck craines for use in construction, quarrying and other

industries. GMT in Waverly manufactures robotic welding and precision machining equipment, drivetrains, transmission cases and other oomponents for a variety of customers in the agriculture, construction, railroad and defense industries. GMT numbers Terex, Deere & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and Lockheed Martin among its customers. GMT also operates in Nashua. Waverly boasts a number of other manufacturers, as well, including United Equipment Accessories, Rada Manufacturing, Titan Machinery Inc., Kay & L Draperies and Waverly Plastics Co. Independence, in nearby Buchanan County, has a diverse manufacturing base of its own, for a population of around 6,000. Pries Enterprises, an aluminum fabricator and extruder, makes everything from pieces for doors, windows and farm equipment and other applications. The company operates in a 150,000-square-foot facility that was expanded in 2001. The expansion allowed the company to take on projects it had been unable to handle before. Pries has handled requests from no less than NASA, when the space agency needed a

MetoKote The World Leader in Application of Advanced Coating Technologies MetoKote Corporation is an Ohio-based company operating globally. Operations in the Cedar Valley have been in place for 15 years in Cedar Falls Industrial Park. MetoKote’s core business is the application of coatings. Our customer base in the Cedar Valley ranges from suppliers to agricultural equipment. Here is a brief description of the primary types of coatings we supply:

configurations and maintains engineered tolerances on parts intended for operating functions. Wet Spray Wet spray painting is an excellent technology option for finishing assembled components and products where powder coating and electrocoating may not be suitable. Workforce The Cedar Falls plant is a three-shift operation with up to 120 full-time employees.

Electrocoating Electrocoating readily conforms to complex


MetoKote Corporation - Cedar Falls 312 Savannah Park Road • Cedar Falls, IA 50613 (319) 277-8022

piece that attached to a mobile camera on the space shuttle. Bachman Tool and Die Co., another major Independence employer, invested about $1 million on an expansion several years ago. The company has grown from a tool and die manufacturer to making various parts for larger machines, such as heavy-duty Class 8 triucks. The family-owned company, which Eugene Bachman founded in 1972, employs 40 workers. Among other Independence manufacturers are Greenley Lumber Co., South Side Lumber & Equipment, Bloom Manufacturing, Q3 Innovations LLC and Signs & More LLC.

Delta Targets comes back from fire

Delta Targets found itself suddenly without a home after a fire swept through the archery target manufacturer’s Reinbeck plant in August 2008. After moving temporarily to Cedar Falls, the company found a permanent home back in Grundy County — this time in Dike. Delta officials say the company has recovered fully from the fire and has grown to become bigger and better than ever before in a new, ever-

expanding state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and “newly charged” workforce.

Bio-based revolution continues

Ethanol continues to fuel a bio-based manufacturing revolution in the Cedar Valley area. Shell Rock has a near-new ethanol production facility that employs about 40 people and has a production capacity of about 100 million gallons. Perhaps the most noteworthy participant in the Cedar Valley’s emerging bio-based industry is the University of Northern Iowa’s National Ag-Based Lubricants Center, which, in January 2010 became the first tenant on the Cedar Valley TechWorks campus. Heading up NABL is Lou Honary, an associate professor at UNI, who became interested in finding a soybean-based lubricant to replace petroleum-based grease. The research program has developed dozens of soybeans lubricants used in transformers, railroads, chainsaws, hydraulic pumps and other applications. In January 2011, cable TV network the History Channel gave NABL some national attention on its program “Modern Marvels,” which focused on a NABL-developed

process that uses microwaves to produce bio-based grease. NABL says the process is safer and shorter and produces a higher-quality lubricant suitable for a variety of industrial uses. The “Modern Marvels” segment featured Honary, co-inventor of the patent-pending technology. This new grease-making technology entered into the commercialization stage with AMTek, a Cedar Rapids-based industrial microwaves manufacturer that built and tested a scaled-up reactor to make production-quantity batches of grease. The product manufacturing is performed by Grundy Center-based Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing Inc., which manufactures bio-based lubricants and greases for an array of industrial and foodbased applications, using two AMTek 75kilowatt microwave transmitters and an 800-gallon reactor. New Hampton-based Soy Basics LLC has found another means to incorporate soybeans into the manufacturing process. Soy Basics, founded in 2000 manufactures tens of thousands of soy-based candles each day.

Schumacher Elevator Company 75 Years as a World Class Elevator Company What started out as a manufacturer of custom-made lifts for feed bags and chicken crates today is a manufacturing company with elevators across the world. As Schumacher Elevator celebrates 75 years in business, the product line may have changed but the time honored family philosophy remains the same. President Marvin Schumacher, with 49 years in the business himself sums it up…”hire people who are technically proficient, who work well with customers, and have a background of hard work.” It is those simple principles that have created a world class elevator company that takes care of customer needs from manufacturing, installation, modernization and maintenance.

Jeff, Helen and Marvin Schumacher

Schumacher Elevator Company today employs almost 200 workers in 6 states and was recently named Entrepreneur of the Month by the Iowa Farm Bureau along with being featured as an outstanding family owned business by Courier Communications in 2011.

PaSSenger elevatorS FreigHt elevatorS HoMe elevatorS PerSonnel elevatorS One Schumacher Way, Denver Iowa, 50622 | 800-799-LIFT (5438) | 319-984-5676


chapter 7

Quality of Life


took summer classes at Hawkeye Community College. For a while she worked to help pay for her education. Then, a sizable scholarship came her way and she was able to reduce her work hours to focus more fully on earning her

degree. There’s more. In 2007, Kajtazovic won the National Cattle Congress pageant at age 20, moving on to the Iowa State Fair Pageant. She finished as third runner-up in the Des Moines pageant, which had 102 contestants. The Cedar Valley’s nurturing environment played no small role in the success Kajtazovic and other Bosnian newcomers have achieved, she said. “Many Bosnians relocated to Waterloo from big cities such as Chicago, New York,” she said. “You can only imagine what a cultural

shock it must have been for some of the Bosnians to come to a city with a population of more than their entire native country.” Kajtazovic said she has often been asked why someone would want to relocate to a relatively small urban core like the Cedar Valley. She said she always has had an easy response to such questions. “I think one really has to understand the kind of communities these new immigrants came from,” she said. “A majority of Bosnians came from small towns and closely knit communities.” The Cedar Valley was a perfect fit for the newcomers, Kajtazovic said. “This community really reached out to the new immigrants,” she said. “I think one thing that set the people apart in this community is their willingness to learn about a new culture. I remember the positive response that the Bosnian youth dance group received. I also have fond memories of our local community inviting Bosnians to many of the local events and speaking engagements.” Kajtazovic said a “true testimony of support” was evident when the Bosnians in Waterloo hosted the annual Bosnian Fest, known as Taferic, for all Bosnians across the country. “Our community and business leaders stepped up and helped the Bosnian community achieve that goal,” she said. “This fest alternates in about five different cities across the country.” Cedar Valley residents took extra steps to reach out to their new Bosnian neighbors to help them adjust to their new culture and surroundings, Kajtazovic said. “I also have fond memories of Americans reaching out to the Bosnian youth in schools or outside of school,” she said. “Our educational professionals showed concern and reached out to the new students with limited English skills, the ESL program was crucial in helping the new students. One of the memories I will

Left page: Anesa on a TechWorks tour with Dr. Lou Honary, Courier File Photo


n 2010, the Bosnian community in the Cedar Valley celebrated the 15th anniversary of refugee resettlement in Iowa. Marked with concerts and dance performances, the milestone gave the former refugees the chance to show their pride in their heritage as well as revel in the accomplishments made since their arrival. But perhaps nobody punctuated the anniversary of the Bosnians’ arrival quite like Anesa Kajtazovic, who, at age 24, in November 2010 became the first Bosnian native to win election to Iowa’s Legislature. Kajtazovic is just the latest of a growing parade of Bosnian-Americans to achieve a long-sought American dream in the Cedar Valley. Others have established successful businesses, achieved academic excellence and thriven in the medical and other professional fields. Now, with Kajtazovic, Bosnian refugees — the first of more than 3,000 arrived in the Cedar Valley in 1995, fleeing the turmoil of a civil war in their homeland — have a hand in the crafting of laws that affect the whole state. Kajtazovic was elected to represent Iowa House District 21, defeating former Waterloo Mayor and Black Hawk County Supervisor John Rooff in the election. It was not the first taste of triumph for Kajtazovic, who came to Waterloo in 1997 with her parents, Hazim and Hadzira Kajtazovic. The family spoke only limited English when they arrived in Waterloo, but Anesa Kajtazovic said she was determined to find her place in the community. She graduated from West High School in 2004 and immediately hit the books at the University of Northern Iowa, where she completed a degree in only three years — rare by any standard — with a double major in public administration and business administration. It wasn’t easy. Kajtazovic carried 18 to 25 credit hours per semester, and

Right page: Anesa Kajtazovic, Photo by Matthew Putney

Anesa Kajtazovic: From Bosnia to Cedar Valley success


cherish is the excitement I had when a couple of generous American ladies came to pick up the kids in my building to participate in the -H.” Opportunities to succeed abound across the Cedar Valley, Kajtazovic said. “This area has offered good educational and job opportunities for new immigrants,” she said. “I think the opportunities are unlimited. There are many successful Bosnian entrepreneurs in this area. We have seen very successful small businesses, and I anticipate that that trend will continue to grow.” Kajtazovic said she has tried to set a good example for her fellow Bosnians in an effort to demonstrate that they also can excel in the Cedar Valley. “I try my best to tell people that if you work hard good things can happen to you,” she said. “Success is not easy but it is very possible in this country.” Nowhere is that more apparent, she said, than the opportunity she received to serve in Iowa’s Legislature. “I truly feel honored and humbled to have this opportunity to serve the people in my community and in my district,” she said. “I was once told by a college professor that

learning never stops and that we need to challenge ourselves to learn every day. This advice has proven to be true since I graduated from UNI in 007. I’m happy to learn something new every single day. Obviously during the first few weeks the learning curve was much higher by having to adjust to a whole new environment for the first time.” Kajtazovic said she doesn’t really consider her landmark status as the first Bosnian member — and being a young woman — of Iowa’s House. “I don’t think of it as a big deal,” she said. “We have seen many successful Bosnians in our community before I ran for Iowa House. I have always been a very hard worker. I would hope my story would encourage all people to strive to do the best that they can. Sometime being younger and especially a young female that is passionate about public policy can be a challenge. However, through hard work and dedication you can overcome those barriers.” When asked what she thought the Cedar Valley’s most compelling asset was, Kajtazovic said it’s the region’s residents. “What makes the people so amazing in this community is their willingness to learn about a new culture and their acceptance of others,”

she said. What lessons, as a Bosnian, was she hoping to bring to the Legislature? “Along with thousands of other Bosnians, I believe our work ethic has enabled us all to accomplish so much in such a short time,” she said. “My hard work ethic is a plus in the state Legislature.” Kajtazovic was asked what she would say to anyone considering a move to the Cedar Valley. “I would tell them that this is a small city with a lot of big hearts,” she said. The region is always looking for new and different contributions to further strengthen its cultural, business and social fabric,” Kajtazovic said. “I believe we have added so much to this community,” she said of the Bosnian residents of the area. “In my opinion the Bosnian immigrants’ most important contribution to the area has been the positive impact we have had on our economy and the value we have added by having strong and closely knit families. “My family came here in hope of a better life and to achieve the American dream.”

Martin Bros.

Foodservice with a Difference

Started in 1940, Roy and Glen Martin founded Martin Bros. Distributing Co., Inc. with great determination and a handful of cash in the Cedar Valley. Their foundation was strong family values and an emphasis on customer relationships defined by “Legendary Customer Service.”

We have grown into a regional, independent distributor serving Iowa and seven surrounding states, Brooks Martin, current President and Chief Operating Officer and Jeff Martin, Chief Financial Officer, now lead our continued growth as the third generation of Martins to run the company.

Martin Bros. is a full-line, independent, family-owned foodservice distributor made up of over 500 experienced, knowledgeable employees who are committed to providing “Foodservice with a Difference”.

For over 71 years, Martin Bros. has been dedicated to bringing our customers “Legendary Customer Service” with inspirational and innovative solutions. Our goal: to create a difference in our customers foodservice operations.

1-800-847-2404 •

Western Home Communities 100 Years of Creating Fulfilling Lifestyles for Seniors Two distinct campuses in Cedar Falls total more than 140 acres: Downtown Campus (420 E. 11th St.) • Martin Health Center 24/7 nursing care • Stanard Family Assisted Living • Willowwood Retirement Community South Campus (5100 S. Main St.) • Windcrest Villas and Townhomes for active lifestyles • Four retirement communities for independent living: Windgrace, Windermere, Windcove, Windridge • Windhaven Assisted Living • Thalman Square Memory Support • SureCare Services In-Home Companion Care

In Sept. 1912, a handful of residents with an average age of 62 moved into The Western Old People’s Home, named for being the westernmost retirement home of the Evangelical Association at that time. Now, a century later, Western Home Communities has grown and adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of seniors. It remains a non-profit service organization held in trust by a local board of directors committed to its mission: Western Home Communities is a charitable Christian service organization that assertively creates fulfilling lifestyles for seniors, their families and our employees.

Now serving more than 800 residents, the second century of service begins with WHC exploring better ways to serve seniors by increasing the use of new technologies, incorporating a residentdirected rather than medically-driven model of care, focusing on rehabilitation to get seniors back home faster after surgery or illness, and providing management and consulting services throughout the state. Every effort is guided by these corporate values:

• Integrity • Compassion • Empathy • Respect for the dignity and rights of individuals • Transparency of operations • Stewardship of all resources

Residents and employees credit the leadership team for creating an environment where everyone cares about the residents and each other. That's the mission statement in action, according to CEO Kris Hansen. Life at Western Home Communities is designed to be what residents want it to be; nothing one-size-fits-all, but rather a focus on individual needs and desires. That contributes to why WHC is consistently voted the best of the best in Cedar Valley senior living. It is an honor, Hansen says, to know the Cedar Valley has confidence in Western Home Communities. That trust and confidence serves as inspiration to keep getting better on behalf of residents, those currently part of the WHC family and those who will be served in the future.

A non-profit service organization since 1912

(319) 277-2141


Quality of Life


cafeteria food that rivals some of the best restaurant fare anywhere in the country and even a day-care center. “The strongest reaction I’ve received from the employees is they’re really happy to be working in that environment,” Wasendorf said. “It has everything they want. We pay people a fair salary. They have workout facilities, day-care facilities. All those things add up. Just the style of the environment tells the employees that we really do care about them and want them to have a good experience with us.” News of the company’s move from Chicago to Cedar Falls likely didn’t come as glad tidings to some employees — particularly those with growing families and established relationships in the Windy City, Wasendorf said. “Initially my focus was to create the kind of environment in Iowa that would not only attract people from other areas, but also create the kind of environment to attract individuals locally,” he said. The company also set up a “three-pronged approach” to setting in motion the employees’ mass transfer to Iowa, Wasendorf said. It hasn’t been altogether smooth, he admitted. “That has been problematic in that the housing market in Chicago is absolutely dreadful, particularly in the areas where a lot of our employees currently own homes,” he said. “It makes it very difficult for them to sell their homes and move. The values of their homes are not only falling, there’s essentially no more call for the homes in their particular price range.” That extended to Wasendorf’s son, Russ Jr., who had a home in a suburb that wasn’t apt to attract a lot of qualified buyers, the elder Wasendorf said. “My son had a home in Barrington, which is probably in the top one or two highly thought-of suburbs of Chicago,” he said. “His house was on the market for a year and a half

before he finally sold it, and he wasn’t able to sell it until he accepted a very substantial loss.” So, Wasendorf Sr., said, it wasn’t so much a problem with Cedar Falls that was the source of the difficulty. “That part of the equation isn’t working as well as we want, but it’s not that we haven’t created a positive environment back in Iowa,” he said. “It’s just the environment in Chicago has been particularly negative for the housing market.” The other two prongs have been highly successful, in that the company has been able to attract top-notch talent to its new offices, Wasendorf said. “As a matter of fact, we’ve moved an employee from California to Iowa,” he said. “They moved from a pleasant weather environment to sub-zero Iowa. And we’ve been able to attract a lot of local talent. That’s the one part of the equation that has been highly successful. In that way, we’re achieving the goal of creating an environment that starts to reduce the brain drain that Iowa has been suffering.” The Californian was Ron Rabune, who had to convince his kids they had to leave the balmy West Coast climate behind. “I really had to sell them on quality of life,” Rabune said. “They are very special kids. They’ve moved a lot — three times in four years. This move was it.” Changing people’s perceptions about Iowa presented a challenge, Wasendorf said. “The problem is the perception among people outside the state of Iowa is that it’s boring, there’s nothing to do, no cultural activities and so forth,” he said. “Of course, in Iowa, we know that’s not true. Our challenge is to change that perception. It’s funny but we’ll bring individuals in from our Chicago and New York offices and they’ll remark how positive the environment is and how good the standard of living is in Iowa, and they’re won over.”

Russ Wasendorf Sr.


obody had to convince Russ Wasendorf Sr. the Cedar Valley was the place to base a business. He knew it. The problem, he thought as he pondered moving his multi-pronged company, Peregrine Financial Group, now known as PFGBest, from Chicago to Cedar Falls, probably would be in convincing his employees to come along. “I think everybody was a skeptic at one point or another,” Wasendorf said. But he knew his employees would come around. After all, Wasendorf knew the Cedar Valley. A native of Marion, he moved to Cedar Falls when he was 18 and fell in love with the place. In 2009, he moved PFGBest into an $18 million state-of-the-art corporate headquarters building next to the Beaver Hills Country Club in rural Cedar Falls that emphasized two things: employee convenience and earthfriendliness. The employees soon fell in love with the place, Wasendorf said. “The most positive thing, obviously, is the increase in productivity,” he said. “We saw a sharp increase in productivity from the first day. People enjoy working there.” He chuckled to himself after that remark. “It’s humorous to me that their lunch hours are shorter,” he said. “They’re able to go down and get whatever meal they want and return to their office satisfied and go back to work. We’ve had a very positive improvement. We get very talented, productive workers to begin with, so we weren’t really expecting that increase in productivity, but that’s what has happened.” The building’s setting amidst the lush greenery of a rural backdrop draws people in Wasendorf said. The building’s design emphasizes natural light, wherever possible. Amenities include below-ground parking,

Photo by Rick Chase

Russ Wasendorf Sr.: Bringing the company home


My Verona, Cedar Falls

Photo by Matthew Putney

Getting people to adapt to the new environment was never thought of as an easy challenge, Wasendorf said.

“The biggest challenge is to get people to move away from what has become their comfort level,” he said. “That might be their

local urban communities, their family or their resistance to change.” As things turned out, Rabune said, his kids made a smooth transition to Iowa. He said his 7-year-old son, Ryan, played in a local flag football league and his daughters Alexa, , and Aliya, , are playing soccer. “My -year-old played for a club team in California, and we were concerned the competition would be different here,” Rabune said. “That wasn’t the case. They’ve got a great bunch of programs here.” Rabune, meanwhile, has found his own niche, he said. “I’ve played golf more in the five months I’ve been here than ever before,” he said. “I’ve gone to more sporting events. I’m gone to every UNI basketball game. We go out to dinner — MyVerona, Brown Bottle, Montage, Becks.” Easing the transition was part of the thinking in designing the new company headquarters in the Cedar Valley, Wasendorf said. “When we built the building, we made our objective to create this conversion over a five-year period,” he said. “You can’t expect things to change overnight, and you certainly can’t change attitudes overnight. But over a period of time, people will slowly evolve if you’re making a very high standard, and that’s our challenge today.” The Cedar Valley quickly won over a number of PFGBest employees. “The short commute is probably something they noticed first,” Wasendorf said. Indeed, Dan McMullin, senior wealth manager of the Wealth Management Group at PFGBest, had lived in Chicago for 9 years before moving to Cedar Falls more than three

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years ago in the early stages of the company’s relocation. “It wasn’t mandatory to move,” he said. “I was the first one to raise my hand. I was looking for something different. (Without a long commute) I gained a couple hours of life every day.” Wasendorf says he, too enjoys not having to spend so much time commuting. He lived in Chicago from 1994 until last year when he moved to Cedar Falls. “My commute went from three hours a day to three minutes a day,” he said. “That’s 15 (more free) hours a week. The quality of time I have with my family is much greater.” Wasendorf worked to ease the transition, nonetheless, in other ways, including opening a restaurant called My Verona in downtown Cedar Falls that he felt could compete with the best Chicago had to offer. “The reason for starting the restaurant in the first place was twofold,” he said. “First, for years I had a restaurant, a fine-dining restaurant, in Chicago. At one time it was in the top 10 of restaurants in the city of Chicago, which is a competitive market. When we closed that restaurant about four years ago, I basically gutted the restaurant of the fixtures,

the equipment and so forth and put them in storage with the idea that eventually I’d have another restaurant. “I found it to be a positive experience and wanted to replicate that.” That was the second “prong” of Wasendorf’s plan. “The fact that I was intending to move people to Iowa from other places where there’s an abundance of fine-dining restaurants,” Wasendorf said. “And this is not to say the restaurants aren’t good in Cedar Falls and Waterloo already. But I wanted to create a restaurant that was familiar to the employees, that was part of the package. All employees, for instance, get a substantial discount for anything they buy at the restaurant. It created something that they could also feel a part of and also it could provide the infrastructure for the cafeteria that’s located in the PFG headquarters in Cedar Falls. We wanted not only to have a cafeteria there but a cafeteria with very good food, with the types of things that you would find if you went out for lunch in Chicago. “They simply can walk down to the cafeteria and be treated to the same fine food as in Chicago.”

My Verona isn’t making money; in fact, he said it’s “a little bit” below the break-even mark. But, that’s OK, he said. “It’s doing pretty much as I expected,” he said. “It’s losing a little money. That doesn’t really matter to me because it isn’t necessarily my objective to be a restaurateur. It’s a tool for a larger objective — to create this overall lure to our area.” Wasendorf says it’s possible that the Cedar Valley could attract other companies who are looking at quality-of-life and cost-of-living issues that hold sway. “The advantages, I think, are beginning to manifest,” he said. “Illinois had their taxes increased by over 60 percent. When these states that have done a very horrible job of controlling their budgets and are now facing bankruptcies and the frugality of Iowa, we’ve done a far better job than most states. Those things are going to be very positive things for people to view as a choice where they want to live. If we can continue to keep our taxes down and if we can continue to improve the infrastructure through business growth, we will begin to change a lot of attitudes toward Iowa and the Midwest.”

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nonprofit organizations and events. We partner with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, United Way and the Salvation Army by raising funds annually through Tyson’s philanthropic effort, Powering the Spirit, which aims to end childhood hunger. Beyond Tyson’s many community contributions, our greatest asset are our 2,400 team members and the diversity they bring to the community. The many cultures found in our halls enrich the lives of everyone on the Tyson team, and in the Cedar Valley.

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chapter 8

Recreation I

nside or outside, summer and winter, the Cedar Valley keeps the entertainment options coming. And, more seem to come our way each year. Every year, it seems, something new and special comes along to punctuate the long list of intriguing distractions in our area, whether it’s the Bob Dylan concert in the fall of 2010 or participation in the annual RAGBRAI bicycle tour across Iowa, which comes through the Cedar Valley every couple of years.

From near and fore

(18 holes) and Walter’s Ridge. There are options in the outlying area, as well, with a new 18-hole Fox Ridge Golf Course in Dike; an 18-hole Centennial Oaks Golf Club and 18-hole Waverly Municipal Golf Course in Waverly; and nine-hole courses in Hudson, Reinbeck and Denver. It’s not a stretch to say that more towns in our area have golf courses than don’t. In fact, the sight of residents of our area towns riding around in golf carts is not unusual. Every July since 1933, the Cedar Valley has hosted the Waterloo Open — Iowa’s largest professional golf tournament and the state’s largest Jaycee event. “For golf, we’re in a really good position, because we’re a little bit further south and we’re inexpensive,” Aaron Buzza, executive director of the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau. “People have the opportunity to come down here early in the season and play and not have to go down to Missouri or some of the resorts. There’s recognition around the

New Hampton Golf and Country Club


Photo by Greg Brown

Right page: Janelle Thompson and family dog Caesar on a training run

Photo by Rick Chase

For many inside and outside the Cedar Valley, golf is their game, and our region’s numerous nine- and 18-hole golf courses are their destination. According to an online golf site, golflink. com, the Cedar Valley ranked No. 4 among Iowa’s top 10 golfing destinations. And, why not? The area, in both its urban core and its outer fringes, is stocked with championship-caliber courses that challenge

both novice and veteran. The area boasts 18 public and private courses that attract golfers from across the region. Based on the number of course, their quality and the low prices charged for play, Golf Magazine once called the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area on the the 65 “golfiest” places in the U.S., while Golf Digest magazine honored Waterloo in 1998 as the fourth-best city in the nation for golf. The junor golf program in Waterloo also is nationally noted. Waterloo has the Irv Warren Memorial Course at Byrnes Park, plus the Gates Park Course and South Hills, for the general public. There also are private links open to the public at Red Carpet Golf and Metro Golf & Sports, plus the 18-hole Sunnyside Country Club course. Cedar Falls has the private Beaver Hills Country Club, which recently remodeled its clubhouse and course; and public courses adjacent to Birdsall Park at Pheasant Ridge


area that we can be a big golf destination. Buzza said he and others whose job is to promote the Cedar Valley as a golf haven have worked to get the word out. “We’ve been to shows to make sure people know who we are and what we can offer golfers,” Buzza said. “There’s a certain time of years you have room availabilities and costs, but at the right time of year, you can play golf, get a room and have dinner for, sometimes, not much more than you’d pay for a single round of golf in some of the bigger communities. That’s definitely an asset we have, and people recognize us for that and travel here for that.” The recreational amenities the Cedar Valley offers only begin on the golf course, though. There are plenty of other options available to the active — or even the passive — fun seeker. The area offers a complex web of biking and hiking trails. Swimmers can find aquatic havens both large and small, both manmade and in nature. The region’s abundant rivers and streams offer outdoors enthusiasts an array of boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking opportunities. There are even plenty of attractions for those who like to watch as much as take active parts in activities.

A new SportsPlex coming

The newest addition on the Cedar Valley’s sports horizon will be a veritable “crown jewel” to an ongoing Riverfront Renaissance initiative in downtown Waterloo: the Cedar Valley SportsPlex. The new facility will include a large field house, a gymnasium with basketball courts,

a walking/running track, and a leisure pool for family use. There will be weightlifting and cardio areas, and space for racquetball, personal fitness studios, a mat room, child care, locker rooms, meeting rooms and many other amenities that will accommodate individual needs as well as youth sports opportunities. It’s a centerpiece for a downtown area that has the entire region excited, and it is being constructed through private funding. Indeed, $17 million of the $26 million cost already had been raised soon after the project was announced. “It is the largest essentially private-funded venue that’s ever been done in the county,” former Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley said. Rick Young of the Young Foundation said project leaders hope donations and a state Community Attraction and Tourism grant can close the nearly $9 million gap left in financing the project. The SportsPlex is being built on land the city has purchased in recent years for the purpose of renewal. Groundbreaking on the project was scheduled for the summer of 2011, with an opening date possibly as early as November 2012. Some of the biggest early contributors to the project indicate a community spirit that has long embraced the Cedar Valley and its quality of life: McElroy Trust, $4 million; the John Deere Foundation of Moline, Ill., $3 million; the Young Family Foundation of Waterloo, $2 million; the estate of Carlton and Thelma Winter, who operated local Ben Franklin stores for many years, $2 million.

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The nonprofit Waterloo Development Corp. set aside $5 million in gaming revenue. The Max and Helen Guernsey Charitable Trust gave $550,000, and an anonymous donor contributed $500,000. “I think it’s just another feather in the cap for downtown for quality of life for people who live in the area and the thousands of people who work here every day,” said Jeff Kurtz, executive director of Main Street Waterloo, which promotes downtown life and commerce. “The 9-to-5 factor is key to the success here. “The SportsPlex is another benefit to utilize before work, going to work out or use the pool or whatever. It’s just another great ingredient in the success of downtown.”

UNI provides venues

The SportsPlex will be only the latest in an enviable network of sports and entertainment venues in the Cedar Valley. In recent years, the University of Northern Iowa built the McLeod Center, a $26 million, 6,700-seat arena serving UNI and special events. In 2010, the McLeod was host venue for a visit by the Dalai Lama and a rare concert by rock music legend Bob Dylan. During the 2009-2010 NCAA basketball season, fans crowding into the McLeod Center got to watch one of the top men’s teams in the country play, as UNI’s Panthers made it all the way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA postseason tournament. The McLeod Center also was built entirely with private donations and opened in November 2006, adjacent to the UNI-Dome, the 16,000-seat home of UNI’s perennial NCAA championship-contending football

team. The UNI-Dome is the only domed stadium in Iowa. Just a few miles up the road, in Waverly, Wartburg College competes in one of the nation’s top small-college athletic facilities — the $30 million Wartburg-Waverly Sports and Wellness Center, which the college shares with the community. “The W” houses Wartburg’s indoor sports programs and provides Waverly’s first indoor swimming facilities. The natatorium offers a zero-depth entry recreation pool, water slide and six-lane competitive pool. The center also includes a state-of-the-art fitness center with climbing wall; a sports arena; an auxiliary gym with jogging tracks; and a field house featuring a 200-meter competitive indoor track and space for four basketball or tennis courts. Wartburg’s Knights teams also regularly bring competitive teams against their NCAA Division III rivals, with the college’s wrestling team having won several national championships in recent years and a women’s track-and-field title in 2005. Young Arena is the premier spectator sports venue in downtown Waterloo, serving as home arena for the Waterloo Black Hawks, who won the United State Hockey League’s Clark Cub Championship in 2005. The Black Hawks long have been a training ground for future collegiate and pro stars. In December 2010, Young Arena hosted first-ever “Battle of Waterloo,” a wrestling invitational featuring some of the top high school athletes in the region. “I think that aside from just a few internal things where you could maybe make a few

changes, it couldn’t have been any better,” Buzza said of the first Battle of Waterloo. “We had a team ask, ‘How could we be included permanently? What’s it going to take for us to never lose our spot in this tournament?’ Everybody was very complimentary of everything that went on throughout the event. We saw people all over town in their school colors. You do see that direct support for those high school teams and as they look at the future, they’re probably going to look at keeping it the same. Maybe they’ll expand. But they were tremendously excited from a planning standpoint; you had people who were excited to be here; and everything went as expected.” Spectator sports continue through the warm-weather months, as the Waterloo Bucks take on Northwoods League baseball rivals at refurbished Riverfront Stadium a short distance from downtown. The Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum also is a fixture in downtown Waterloo. The facility is named for the Waterloo native who won an Olympic gold medal and an NCAA championship. Gable coached the University of Iowa’s nationally dominant wrestling team for years. For kids with interests in athletics, there are almost countless outlets for active participation, both within the school systems and in amateur leagues. The most popular is the Cedar Valley Youth Soccer Association, which oversees a 115-acre complex with 11 soccer fields, including some that are lighted. Since 2007, the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo has brought visitors from across the area and the region. The operation has been so

successful in drawing tourists and generating income for projects and programs that benefit the entire community, voters went to the polls in November 2010, as required by state law, to continue the Isle and its allied enterprises. “I think when the casino came, we saw a definite spike in our hotel/motel tax collections,” Buzza said. “It shows new people are coming to the area and staying where they might not otherwise. It’s a nice commercial for people to come back, and I think what they can offer is that entertainment venue that people were driving out of town to find previously. It’s that top-level attraction experience and people who go find that’s the case.”

Region trails no one in trails

Perhaps one of the most popular recreational features of the Cedar Valley is its growing network of trails. At the confluence of several recreational trails in Peter Melendy Park in downtown Cedar Falls stands the 18-foot-by-12-foot “Gateway to the Trails” sculpture by artist Bruce White. The sculpture serves as a gathering spot for bicyclists, joggers, strollers and rollerbladers who use the popular 80-mile network of paved recreational trails that weave their way through and around city, county and state parks. The trails have been given some credit for the revitalization of downtown Cedar Falls. The Riverfront Renaissance trail to Waterloo, when it is completed, is expected to have the same allure. From Peter Melendy Park, trail enthusiasts

Convention & Visitors Bureaus Quality of Life and interactive museums, exciting family activities, all within a few minute drive.

The Cedar Valley offers visitors and residents abundant, diverse and affordable entertainment and attractions. The strength of quality of life amenities has been recognized by businesses, relocating employees and visitors.

Let us help you tell the story of the Cedar Valley to your employees, visitors, families, and friends. The Cedar Valley area and our activities and attractions have been recognized state- and nationwide. We are a National Historic Trust Distinctive Destination, Iowa Great Place, Bicycle Friendly Community, and home to numerous tourism awards from the State of Iowa.

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Visitors and residents have opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities, visual and performing arts, high-tech


can head northwest through Tourist Park — with disc golf — to Island Park, past its boathouse and the boat ramp where skiers take to the water. The trail then heads through the woods to the county’s Black Hawk Park with hiking trails, canoe and motor boat areas and campsites. In the winter, it also is a popular cross-country skiing venue. Directly north of downtown is the trek to the city’s Big Woods Lake Recreation Area, which has two boat ramps for its 65-acre man-made lake with fishing allowed. The lake abuts a 10-acre natural prairie. Going south transports trail users into picturesque George Wyth State Park, a National Urban Wildlife Sanctuary with fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, boating and playground equipment. In the winter, it’s a cross-country skiing and snowmobiling haven. The park has boating access at East Lake (120 acres, power boating), George Wyth Lake (75 acres, no-wake lake with handicapaccessible fishing pier), Fisher Lake (40-acre natural lake), Alice Wyth Lake (60 acres, electric motors only) and the Cedar River. Sailboating and windsurfing are popular in the park. As part of a six-mile loop, the Riverside Trail crosses over the Cedar River on the majestic Krieg’s Crossing bridge (for non-motorized traffic only) and passes Pfeiffer Springs Park — ball diamonds, basketball court and play equipment — en route to Hartman Reserve Nature Center, a 288-acre undisturbed natural area for deer and other wildlife with an osprey nesting area. Hartman Reserve has a series of ponds, vernal depressions, a small remnant prairie, an open meadow and the largest tract of upland forest in the county. An interpretive center is perched on a bluff above the Cedar River and houses displays and exhibits to help explain the local flora and fauna. If bicyclists choose to go through Pfeiffer Park, they can make their way to the Prairie Lakes Park, which has two lakes, a handicapped fishing dock, nature trail and passive areas with wetlands and prairie grasses. It’s also home of the Cedar Falls Visitors and Tourism Center. Trail segments also head into Waterloo and go along U.S. Highway 63 to Hudson. Evansdale is the jumping-off point for the


60-mile Cedar Valley Nature Trail link to the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area. The Cedar Valley network is part of the American Discovery Trail stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. The Prairie Pathways project has posted a network of signs on routes in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Hudson and Evansdale that tell the history of specific sites. Waverly’s Rail Trail is a converted stretch of railway that goes through downtown to the Cedar River in the north end, while traversing the countryside on the south to just above Denver, where it connects with the city’s trail. In Butler Country, bicyclists have their choice of 5-mile trails — the Butler County Nature Trail and the Rolling Prairie Trail, both starting on different ends of Clarksville. The Rolling Prairie Trail is paved; the Butler Country Nature Trail is not. Grundy County also boasts a paved trail system, connecting Reinbeck and Grundy Center, 11 miles to the west. In Fayette County, a 5,500-acre area has been set aside to provide for a recreational trail linking the city of Fayette with the Volga River Recreation area. The area offers boating, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, equestrian trails and campgrounds. The trail area includes 35 feet of right of way through hilly terrain that rises to a point offering a 360-degree view to the horizon. It passes through a savanna, where 75 to 100 species of plant life were seeded into what had been a cow pasture for many years.

Countless outdoor options

The Cedar Valley is known for the amenities in its scores of public parks, large and small. Byrnes Park in west Waterloo and Gates Park in east Waterloo both offer 18-hole golf courses, swimming pools, playgrounds and ball areas. South Hills has the third municipal golf course in Waterloo. Cedar River/Exchange Park is the home of Riverfront Stadium, where the Bucks play, a women’s softball complex, a disc golf course, boat ramp, football field, sand volleyball and a skateboard park. The wide-ranging Katoski Greenbelt along the Black Hawk Creek is popular for trails and prairie reconstruction. The Riverview Recreation Area on the Cedar River offers fishing, all-terrain vehicle trails, motocross

areas and hiking. Some of the best softball in the state is played at Waterloo’s Hoing-Rice Softball Complex men’s softball complex. In addition, Waterloo has more than 20 other neighborhood parks larger than two acres with playground and picnic facilities. Cedar Falls takes great pride in its recreation center with two gyms, an indoor track, stateof-the-art exercise equipment and racquetball courts. Gateway Park, on the Cedar River near downtown, has an outdoor ice and roller blade facility. Nearby Island Park has boat ramps and four playground areas and three sand volleyball courts. Across the street is Tourist Park with its 18-hole disc golf course. Birdsall Park in west Cedar Falls boasts lighted softball diamonds. Across the street is the Robinson-Dreser Sports Complex, owned by the Cedar Falls Community School District, with ball diamonds, tennis courts and a soccer field. The school district also opens its 25-meter indoor pools at Holmes and Peet junior high schools to the public when school is not in session. Besides Black Hawk Park in northern Cedar Falls, the county parks system includes Hickory Hills Park, 2 miles south of Waterloo, with hiking and mountain bike trails, lake access and camping facilities. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, sledding and ice fishing. McFarlane Park, east of La Porte City, has trails, campsites and access to the Cedar River, as well as cross-country skiing. Thunder Woman Park, south of Janesville, has trails, ice fishing and river and pond access. Washington Union Access northwest of Cedar Falls has trails, river access, camping and cross-country skiing. “We’re known for camping, hunting, boating, fishing, and we’re starting to be more recognized with bicycling,” Buzza said. “We have a bike trail system that’s relatively unique for its size. It’s a loop system, which means you’re not going to see the same thing twice and you don’t have to worry about getting back to where you started from by using non-trails. You get the downtown experience; you get the along-the-river experience; you get the through-the-woods experience at George Wyth and through great parts of the community and this area along

The W Wellness Center, Waverly

Photo by Greg Brown

that trail system. People are recognizing that and know they can park their car, stay at their hotel and bicycle for the entire weekend and oftentimes not hit the same piece of pavement twice.”

Winter activities for the summer

Take your choice between large and small slide rides. The ever-expanding Lost Island Adventurepark has major water slides and rides — along with two challenging miniature golf courses and a go-cart track — that draw visitors from across Iowa and neighboring states. Lost Island went through its latest expansion in the summer of 2010. Los Island is open from June through August. For a scaled-down version of water-park thrills, the $6.2 million Cedar Falls Aquatic Center, which opened in 2006, has three water slides, a lazy river, lap pool, zero-depth entry and spray features. You can take to the water in kayaks and

canoes across the Cedar Valley. Besides the aforementioned parks, Cedar Falls has a downtown kayak run and Waterloo has a proposal for a Riverfront Renaissance Course. Waterloo also will use an inflatable dam to elevate the downtown Cedar River Dam to restore upstream recreational boating. The Butler County Shell Rock Recreational Area west of the city near the Ray and Marie Mason Memorial Lake and Heery Woods State Park in Clarksville both are popular kayaking and canoeing spots. The Wapsipinicon River from Independence to Quasqueton is renowned as a nice, easy ride for families, with two-hour and six-hour trips.

Plenty to do

The Cedar Valley has a wide-ranging annual fare of events. The Fourth Street Cruise in downtown Waterloo is a nostalgic flashback featuring

more than 500 classic cars. An evening sock hop at the National Cattle Congress grounds follows. My Waterloo Days offers a citywide postMemorial Day festival of fun for all ages, with hot air balloons, parade, fireworks, cultural village and top-notch musical entertainment. Downtown Waterloo turns “green” every August, when the Irish Fest takes over Lincoln Park for a weekend. The two-day summertime celebration has grown steadily in just a few years. Irish Fest attendance was 23,000 in its first year and has grown steady, reaching 27,000 from 35 states and three countries — including Ireland — in 2010, organizers said. “I don’t think there’s an event in Iowa like it that even approaches this one in size,” said Bob Justis, president of the Greater Cedar Valley Chamber of Commerce. In late June, crowds gather for the Sturgis Falls Celebration and Cedar Basin Jazz Festival at Overman Park, Island Park and


Tourist Park in Cedar Falls. Free concerts offer jazz, country, rock-and-roll and the blues. There are carnival rides, entertainment and activities for children of all ages. Cities, towns and counties across the Cedar Valley area offer similar experiences at annual fairs and festivals throughout the summer months. In mid-July, the College Hill Arts Festival showcases juried original works of Midwest artists and demonstrations in various media. Waverly Heritage Days has food, games, concerts, a parade, fireworks and other events. In early August, the Cedar Trails Festival features an array of bike rides, including a candlelit night excursion. The National Cattle Congress Exposition in Waterloo in September is a four-day fair with carnival rides, midway, livestock shows, PRCA rodeo and exhibits. The Cattle Congress grounds also serve as venue for an annual two-cylinder tractor expo, which draws enthusiasts from across the country and beyond. In November, the Festival of Trees at Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center features an enchanting display of decorated trees, wreaths and other holiday exhibits. Downtown Lights for Night and Downtown Unwrapped brighten the holidays in Waterloo with a lighted parade, Santa and holiday specials provided by downtown merchants. In December, the Grout Museum District has a night of holiday festivities, including hose-drawn trolley ride or a candlelight walk through the museum district with activities at the various stops. The Historical Society Christmas Walk in Overman Park in Cedar Falls features several historical buildings, all decorated for the holidays, with free tours and special activities. A special December treat is Waverly’s Christmas Greetings on Main — as seen on the Arts & Entertainment cable network. Thousands of white lights hug street lamps, dance off ornate decorations on downtown storefronts, while luminarias light the way along Bremer Avenue. The show, though, is inside the windows. Penguins dance in the windows, Santa gives hgus and store displays literally come alive in scenes described as if falling out of a Christmas snow globe. For Denver’s Festival of Trees, civic


organizations decorate trees downtown and businesses transform storefronts into oldfashioned holiday scenes. The tourism offices in both Waterloo and Cedar Falls have taken note of the wintertime activities available in the Cedar Valley and are actively promoting “Vacation in the Valley,” with the cooperation of area hotels. “We want to make sure people know that while there are some activities that are summer-based, we have wintertime activities, too,” Buzza of the Waterloo Conventional & Visitors Bureau said. “Trails work for crosscountry skiing and walking and snowshoeing. We’ve got the Black Hawks and museums are there. We have spectator sports. And there’s a wide variety of music and theater that we offer.” There are plenty of activities to keep residents and visitors busy across the Cedar Valley all year, Buzza said. “I hear from friends in Minneapolis or Chicago or St. Louis or Minneapolis that they can’t find things to do,” he said. “If we’re hearing that from people in bigger cities, we certainly have a leg up on them because we can find things to do. We help people find things to do, and you’re only 15 minutes away from whatever it is to do, whether it’s a rock band playing or some other event. We’re in a compact area and you don’t have to sit in rush-hour traffic in doing whatever you want to do.” For entertainment, there likely is no better variety available that what is found regularly in the Cedar Valley. Every weekend, local and regional acts compete for time at one of the several venues in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, and every couple of weeks, national acts compete for attention, too. In a recent month, for instance, McElroy Auditorium, on the Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo, hosted hip-hop superstar Nelly, while the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls brings in country sensation Miranda Lambert. And national comedian Tom Green entertained audiences at Joker’s in Cedar Falls. Other recent shows featured comedian and movie star Pauly Shore, rock band Buckcherry and Christian artist Toby Mac.

All this close to home

No matter what you’re into, organizers and venue operators say you’re likely to find it without having to drive for hours.

At the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls, booking first-run Broadway shows and attracting big-name artists and concerts is the name of the game. “Success breeds success,” executive director Steve Carignan said, talking about the consistently top-draw shows at the GallagherBluedorn. “I think we do diverse presentations; we have lots of audiences,” Carnigan said. “We’re not just playing to one crowd, which you have to do in a smaller market.” McLeod, which saw success with its recent Bob Dylan concert, is looking to get in the game of concerts whenever athletic schedules permit, said Andre Seoldo, who booked Toby Mac and Miranda Lambert not long after taking over as UNI’s assistant athletic director in 2010. “You put on a good show, word starts spreading — ‘Hey, McLeod Center can do a good concert,’” Seoldo said. When it comes to local and regional bands, local bars have mixed feelings on the live music scene. Marcus Kjeldsen, owner of The Hub, a concert venue in Cedar Falls, said there are good bands to make the Cedar Valley part of their itinerary. Kjeldsen noted a lot of original music was coming out of the University of Northern Iowa’s music department, well-known bands like Bob Dorr and the Blue Band were still out there and groups from the Twin Cities and elsewhere regularly descend upon the Cedar Valley. “Big things are on the horizon for entertainers like Heatbox, Down Lo and Roster McCabe,” Kjeldsen wrote in an e-mail. “Those would be the three original bands to watch for in 2011 when it comes to music outside the area. I would throw the Iowa City-based Uniphonics into that category as well.” Jameson’s is one of a growing number of live music establishments in downtown Waterloo that offers live, local music without a cover. And while general manager Shaylin Marti said that makes it tough to get steady crowds on the weekends, she’s never at a loss for booking bands. “There’s so many good, talented musicians in this area ... To get a new one, I kind of have to bump one of the old ones,” she said. “It’s definitely a good thing.”

Courier Communications “Cedar Valley’s Information Source” reach consumers, potential employees, and the market in general through Courier Communications.

David Braton, Publisher-Courier Communications Courier Communications is proud to have been an integral part of this publication. Our business writer Jim Offner has provided an excellent overview of the Cedar Valley, and Courier photographers along with former Courier photographer Greg Brown have captured the greater Cedar Valley as it is … a great place to live, work and play. Business continues to grow, home construction has been stable and unemployment has remained relatively low during a period of economic instability across our country. That truly is a testament to the Cedar Valley! Our name, Courier Communications, reflects the changing times in the Cedar Valley, offering an expanded line of publications and online opportunities designed to serve the needs of our advertisers and audiences. We are the number one resource for businesses to

The Courier For more than 150 years we’ve been the leading source for news in the Valley as publishers of the award winning Courier newspaper. We continue to be recognized for excellence in local news coverage. We are among the leaders in Iowa household circulation penetration and in the nation among afternoon publications. Published Monday-Friday our daily paper reaches 65 percent of all adults in Black Hawk County and 77 percent every Sunday. Add our online audience and we reach an astounding 82 percent of all adults in Black Hawk County every week! Digital Communicator Courier Communications is growing in all aspects of digital communication. Our website,, typically has more than 4 million page views and 180,000 unique visitors monthly. Today more than ever newspapers are providing “breaking news” with video and email alerts in various digital formats. Apps are available for news, high school sports and UNI Panther sports. It’s a whole new world for Courier Communications as we provide the strongest local news coverage to a variety of digital devices. Specialty Publications Courier Communications publishes a host of niche magazines to cover and reach specific interests and audiences. Cedar

Valley Business Monthly has become the business authority. The publication hosts a number of business features plus annual awards for “20 Under 40” and “8 Over 80.” Twenty young leaders are selected every year as leaders of tomorrow and eight leaders who have left a legacy are honored. Cedar Valley Home and Garden is a quarterly lifestyle magazine that illustrates Iowa living and is now distributed throughout northeastern part of the state. Pulse is an award-winning arts and entertainment magazine published every other week. Courier Communications also produces many of the publications you would receive when requesting information on the Cedar Valley. We are proud partners with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and Home Builders Association producing Cedar Valley Visitors Guide, Chamber Directory, and annual Parade of Homes Magazine. Direct Mail Courier Communications rounds out our ability to cover the entire market with a strong weekly direct mail effort. Non-subscriber households receive a direct mail package that contains valued money-saving grocery ads along with information from local merchants. Courier Communications is the Cedar Valley’s information source both in print and online. To subscribe or view us online contact us at

P.O. Box 540 | 501 Commercial St., Waterloo, Iowa 50704 Phone (319) 291-1400 | Fax (319) 234-3297 

chapter 9


Allan Industrial Coatings, Allison


will support what’s going on with biotech and ag businesses, which can be supported by an over-arching energy umbrella.” That’s no real stretch for TechWorks planners, Darrah said. “We won’t be held to part of the market that isn’t appropriate at the moment,” she said. “We’ve always intended on being open to wherever the market will take us with respect to ag biotech and renwable energy.” Through its ability to adjust, TechWorks has transcended the biofuels area, which remains a core business, Darrah said. “With the revisions of the business plan, we’re now working with manufacturers in two renewable energy sources that are very interested in TechWorks,” she said. She was referring to solar and wind energy. “We have a viable relationship with solar and small wind manufacturers” to use those on the campus as a showplace, and people can see how they work,” Darrah said. “It’s a good opportunity to support biotech and ag businesses to provide resources for them to do business better.” Darrah noted that the project had been taking shape at a steady pace, and that work

Photo by Greg Brown

to grow, it has to be technology-focused,” he said. “That’s where the jobs are in the future, and that’s what TechWorks has to offer.” We’ve got the building blocks to really put Iowa on the map as it relates to biotechnology and ag-tech development.” The public-private partnership that fuels TechWorks is central to its success, Johnston said. “We need to make sure we engage our local elected officials,” he said. “We need to keep telling them the story and make sure everybody is aware of the many benefits and, of course, focus on agriculture commodity groups. We’re trying to get ag business engaged, along with the bio economy and bio products industries because that’s where we feel we can recruit tenants. We want support from all the other organizations.” “When we revised our business plan to adjust to the changes going on globally,” she said, “we recognized in our presentations to legislators that the piece of the TechWorks project that was most exciting for them to get behind was the renewable energy opportunities, and rightfully so. In including renewable energy projects, it (the Legislature)

Photo by Greg Brown

United Equipment Accessories, Waverly


or years, technological innovation and the Cedar Valley have marched hand in hand. And the pace is quickening these days. Ours, after all, was one of the first regions in the country — and the world — to gamble on the coming Internet Age by moving into fiber-optics in the mid-1990s. The gamble paid off when Cedar Falls Utilities went in that direction. Mediacom followed suit by establishing a regional U.S. broadband hub in the Cedar Valley. High-tech businesses, such as T8 Webware and Team Technologies, are sprung up as a direct result. So, it should come as perhaps no surprise that the Cedar Valley is once again taking the lead in another area: renewable fuels. Exhibit A is the Cedar Valley TechWorks campus, which is emerging on the edge of downtown Waterloo. It may not be apparent from a casual glance at the Cedar Valley TechWorks campus, but the process of molding the region’s agricultural past and its technological future into a vibrant business center is humming along in high gear, although the realities of the national economic downturn have altered its pace somewhat, its leaders say. “We have adjusted, like many businesses, to the path of the economy,” said Cary Darrah, TechWorks general manager. TechWorks sharpened their focus on opportunities in renewable energy and biotechnology. The business of building TechWorks continues. The last year brought its first tenant, as the University of Northern Iowa’s National Ag-Based Lubricants Center moved into “Tech 1,” one of the two six-story buildings on a 40-acre site that Deere & Co. donated to the project. The addition of NABL is emblematic of TechWorks’ potential role in the region’s economic might, said Terry Johnston, marketing and facilities manager at TechWorks. “As I travel around and talk to people in job-creation roles, they say if you’re going


Dumont Telephone Co., Dumont

Photo by Greg Brown

was going to continue in the coming years. “You don’t notice the tangible improvements like the extension of Commercial Street and cleaning up the site,” she said. “But you can’t ignore the fact that John Deere is making two major investments in their Waterloo facility, with the foundry and the Deere museum. While those aren’t TechWorks, the museum is on the campus and their investment in a location that’s near the project that is on the


bubble to bust wide open is exciting.” Deere’s ag-exhibit center was scheduled to be open by the fall of 2011. Dave Rodger, retired director for large tractors at Deere in Waterloo, is managing the project. “This is an exciting time for Waterloo and the Cedar Valley,” Rodger said as the project was getting under way. He added that the museum, along with

other downtown projects like the Riverloop, Sports Center, TechWorks and the museum, “all work together to create an environment for success, investment and job growth.” “Now is the time to intensify the work to distinctively position the Cedar Valley for the future,” Rodger said. TechWorks is working closely with area school systems, enchancing students’ educational backgrounds with virtual-reality lessons. TechWorks is helping area schools make use of virtual-reality technology in their classrooms. A full room-sized virtual reality system was donated by John Deere to TechWorks, which is pursuing installation funding and plans to make it available to schools. Four table-top virtual reality systems were created by engineers at Rockwell Collins and purchased with $15,150 in grant funding from the R.J. McElroy Trust. Each includes a 60inch 3-D television, computers and five sets of 3-D glasses. East and West high schools in Waterloo have each received a system, as have Cedar Falls High School and Holmes Junior High. The systems won’t necessarily be used for virtual welding. Darrah said they could have numerous applications in a variety of subjects. Science and industrial technology teachers are considering uses at some schools, but Darrah said it also could be applied to teach math concepts or sentence structure. Through a donation provided by TechWorks, the Waterloo and Cedar Falls schools districts were able to join the Virtual Reality Educational Pathfinders, which provides opportunities for students across the state to work together on virtual realityrelated projects. No matter what the use, everything from figuring out how to operate the systems to finding ways to use them is an opportunity for team building and problem-solving. “The range of what can be done with it is pretty big,” said Kenton Swartley, a Cedar Falls High School science teacher. He has been gauging the interest of students in using the equipment in creating 3-D animation. Swartley noted that an animation competition is always part of the robotics contests a team of students that he advises participates in every year. A student has also

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expressed interest in using the technology in connection with some graphic design work. After John Deere donated the equipment to TechWorks, Darrah got the ball rolling on smaller virtual reality systems for schools. She heard about what students at East Marshall High School were doing with virtual reality equipment donated by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and visited the classroom. She made the connection with Rockwell Collins engineer Jack Harris, who also heads the statewide network of schools in the Virtual Reality Educational Pathfinders. TechWorks paid for memberships so the Waterloo and Cedar Falls school districts could join the organization, which provides opportunities for students across the state to work together on virtual reality-related projects. Darrah sees her organization’s involvement in the effort as beneficial from an economic development standpoint. The mission of the nonprofit subsidiary of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance is to provide a physical space for new businesses developing emerging technologies. But the growth opportunities for technology transcend TechWorks in the Cedar Valley. Data storage and management has a home — and a new state-of-the-art Phantom Park facility — in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, along with T8 Technologies’ and its cuttingedge solutions for banks and other financial enterprises. It can be honestly said that mobile banking has a direct line to the Cedar Valley, through T8 innovation. Phantom EFX has established itself as a leading developer of video-game technology.

Phantom EFX develops and publishes Reel Deal brand casino genre video games, massive multiplayer online games, games for iPhone and BlackBerry. Phantom also creates slot machines for casinos in South America, Europe and the United States. Another affiliated video game development company, 8monkeyLabs, is also located in Phantom Park. T8 Webware, formerly T8 Design, is a Web-based technology company serving financial institutions and providing web-based applications for such Fortune 00 companies as John Deere, Nike, Adobe, McDonalds and others. Phantom Park also is home to the Barmuda Cos., which employ about 00 people across the Cedar Valley. In addition, there’s another 90 people working at T8, Phantom EFX, and Barmuda MMC. “We’re not your typical Iowa companies,� said Aaron Schurman, CEO at Phantom EFX. “This new building allows us to be more productive and effective. It’s an amazing partnership that helps all us perform better. There’s real synergy between the three companies, and it’s amazing how it’s made us one big, happy family.� Wade Arnold, CEO of T8 Webware, agreed. “The space encourages collaboration amongst peers in a social and encouraging environment,� Arnold said. “In a virtual economy, the space reinforces the productive value of collaborating face to face.� For newcomers to the Cedar Valley, talking high-tech is as easy as getting together with other like-minded entrepreneurs, through

regular professional mentoring programs that are ongoing across the area. “It gives you access to some of the brightest minds in the area, and they meet regularly,� Arnold said. “You can exchange ideas with some of the leaders in the field, which is something you just wouldn’t have that ability to do outside the Cedar Valley. They feed off of each other’s wisdom and experience, and it enhances the business for everybody.� Once a month, some of the brightest techfocused minds get together to talk about the latest developments and future potential, both on the business and technical sides, at informal “Tech Brew� meetings. “People of all stages of business, ownership, investment and potential investment gather to talk about nothing but technology, either the business aspect or the technical aspect, and it’s exciting to see young guys who have just graduated working with some of the most respected people in their fields,� said Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance. “Now, we have a bunch of young people who are very excited about the opportunities to grow a business here. This kind of resource is, well, you can’t put a price on it.� He refers to the mentoring opportunities among the brightest technical minds in the Cedar Valley as a “knowledge spillover.� “Those are actions that are critical to the growth of industry in an economic area, so a person can have access to the knowledge and experience in not only his industry but others, as well,� Dust said.






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Send-off ceremony for the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry in Cedar Falls


Photo by Dawn Sagert

Cedar Valley R egion

Reveal the secret of the Cedar Valley of Iowa

Cedar Valley Region of Northeast Iowa  
Cedar Valley Region of Northeast Iowa  

You are about to enter a realm that blends a deep reverence for its heritage and an eager embrace of its future, where cultures cross, a str...