Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust Is Resigning

posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 in Blog

Dust Will Continue to Run Alliance & Chamber Operations and Assist the Executive Committee with the Search for His Replacement in Interim

Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Steve Dust, CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

Cedar Valley of Iowa—Steve Dust, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber (GCVAC) CEO, announced he will be leaving the organization he helped bring together 14 years ago when he was recruited to the executive role of the area's newly formed economic development entity. Dust made the announcement at the GCVAC's regularly scheduled board of directors meeting today.

“I'm not retiring, I'm transitioning out of my role as CEO,” said Dust. “After thoughtful consideration, I've come to realize that the skills needed to unify, build and develop the Alliance & Chamber over the last 14 years are very different than the skills needed to move the Alliance & Chamber to the next level. Donita (Steve's wife) and I have decided that the best way I could serve the organization that I've worked to create and advance, as well as pursue the type of work that I'm best at, and most interested in, would be to leave the Alliance & Chamber.”

Dust said he notified GCVAC's executive committee of his decision last November and they worked together on a transition plan which may run through June 30, 2018. During this interim period, Dust will assist the executive committee with the search for his replacement, while continuing to manage day-to-day operations and conduct fundraising calls for the Alliance & Chamber's ongoing campaign. He said he and his wife hope to stay in the Cedar Valley.

“I'm so very proud of the Cedar Valley and what we've built together, starting with merging the Cedar Falls and Waterloo chambers together, and then merging the chambers into the Alliance,” said Dust. “The Cedar Valley is now a recognized leader in regional collaboration and impactful economic development. And, the Cedar Valley is now known for its innovation and technology-based strategies, talent recruitment and retainment initiatives, and as the center of manufacturing in Iowa.”

Manufacturing Hub

According to Tim Hurley, TechWorks board chair, Dust was instrumental in re-establishing the Cedar Valley as the center of manufacturing, by securing funding for TechWorks and receiving legislative designation for TechWorks as the Manufacturing Hub.

“Steve pursued The Iowa Reinvestment District Program as a funding tool to execute the TechWorks vision,” said Hurley. “The program provides for new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues to be re-invested within urban renewal areas—and with Steve's leadership we received $12 million in funding.”

TechWorks Campus is an advanced manufacturing, research & development, innovation, education, commercial and manufacturing center located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. The campus is comprised of 20 acres of development sites and 180,000 square feet of flex space for innovation and development.

The TechWorks Campus is home to many entities including the University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing Center and Design Lab, Hawkeye Community College Design Lab, the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub, John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum and the newly opened Courtyard by Marriott, soon to be joined by the John Deere Training Center and Blue Iguana Restaurant in what has been known as the Tech 2 building.

“Steve was honored by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry at its 2016 Advanced Manufacturing Conference largely for not only being a vocal advocate for TechWorks and the Cedar Valley, but for bringing Iowa business issues to the statehouse in Des Moines and to Washington,” said Hurley. “And, Washington took notice of the Cedar Valley too.”

Technology Infrastructure

Dust created the Gigabit Valley concept, emphasizing that broadband is the infrastructure of the future. He worked with the City of Waterloo to conduct studies of business and institutional broadband use which led to the creation of the Waterloo Municipal Telecom Utility. Google also recognized Cedar Falls with a 2014 eCity Award which is given to the strongest online business community in each state – the digital capitals of America.

In 2015, President Obama visited the Cedar Valley to applaud broadband leadership.

“It was a very proud day when President Obama came to the Cedar Valley to recognize CFU and the City of Cedar Falls as Iowa's first gigabit city—and a leading broadband city in the U.S.,” said Dust. “From gaming companies to the many IT firms that make up our economic base, we're truly a region focused on innovation and technology.”

Talent Recruitment and Retention

Bob Smith, chairman of the GCVAC board and president of Lockard, noted several successful milestones under Steve's leadership over the Alliance & Chamber's first 14 years, including a regional alignment calling for one voice for the Cedar Valley and a well-known and well-marketed Cedar Valley economic area, supported by a strong economic base. According to Smith, with great progress toward these initial milestones achieved, the GCVAC shifted its focus in 2014 to developing and funding long-term programs for talent recruitment and retention.

“We emerged from a board planning session, knowing the Cedar Valley's current and future growth was directly related to the GCVAC's success as the connector between workforce needs and talent development, recruitment and retainment,” said Smith. “We needed to begin work right away to establish programs for lifelong learning, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, as well as enhance quality of life by developing attributes, including a strengthened retail and service sector. We must make the Cedar Valley an inviting place to enjoy life, enhance a career, operate a business and retire.

We saw Steve bring business, higher education and community leaders, as well as educators and students, together to collaborate in forming the Inclusion Partnership, #LivetheValley, #WorktheValley, Leader Valley Foundation and more. Steve has many talents including being a great builder, inclusive collaborator, and program and initiative developer—and the Alliance & Chamber board is most appreciative of his leadership. We now need to find the next CEO for Steve to pass the baton to lead fundraising efforts, develop new funding mechanisms and champion our vision to make the greater Cedar Valley, even greater.”

About the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, not-for-profit corporation working to increase wealth and economic vitality through collaborative economic and community development throughout the Cedar Valley economic area. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at

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