Cedar Valley Leadership Institute Class of 2021-22: Challenges to Address to #Grow the Cedar Valley
posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2022 in Grow Cedar Valley
The Cedar Valley Leadership Institute (CVLI) class of 2021-22 is comprised of 41 emerging leaders representing over 30 businesses and organizations in the Cedar Valley. Each leader was asked to identify one issue or challenge they felt needed to be addressed in order for the Cedar Valley to become an exceptional place in which to live, work and play.
Retaining Talent, affordable housing and affordable and reliable childcare were among the most mentioned issues facing the Cedar Valley. This group of emerging leaders is hopeful for the future of the Cedar Valley but is aware there is work to be done.
We hope you take a moment to read the thoughts and recommendations put forth by the CVLI Class of 2021-2022.
- One opportunity that I see in the Cedar Valley is the ability to attract and retain talent. Some suggestions might be to start with local students that are in middle school or high school. Involve local students in programs that work with local companies so they can see opportunities that are already in the community. Work with students who are in college in the surrounding areas and state so they can see what our community has to offer. Continue to offer great programs, activities and opportunities that interest employees, especially Millennials and Gen Z people. Jenna Soole, John Deere
- I would like to see the Cedar Valley focus on our economic disparity between not just white and black residents but white and all minority residents. There needs to be a focus in all businesses across the Cedar Valley to evaluate their hiring practices and the pay they are offering and/or currently paying their employees using ethnicity as a comparison. The evaluations then need to be used to implement actual change in the business’ practices. No matter what ethnicity a person is, they shouldn’t make more or less for doing the same job, at the same standard as someone else. Anna Staudinger, CUNA Mutual Group
- I could see value in all of these topics from recruiting and retaining talent to single use plastics, to people thinking Iowa is a boring place to live, but the several that will continuously stand out to me revolve around DEI. I would select this issue is because we are all truly better together. This goes into every facet in our lives. When you have a diverse group of individuals, you have opinions and backgrounds from several different areas of “expertise” whether it’s from lessons learned within our communities, our educational experiences, or our work experiences. Kristen Rowles, CBE Companies, Inc.
- If I had to select one challenge that I think the Cedar Valley needs to address, it would be better ease of accessibility for mental health services and care. I strongly believe in making mental healthcare more accessible to those in need. When I learned that Unity Point opened a walk-in mental health clinic, I was so excited to hear this and think it’s a great step in the right direction. If we continue that path, we’ll be able to improve many lives of those in need. Monica Rogan, VGM Group, Inc.
- I am a firm believer that we are stronger when we work together. In the Cedar Valley, we have several “sister cities” in the metro area with varying strengths and opportunities for growth. At times, it feels like we (cities, schools, businesses, citizens) are working in competition rather than in collaboration with one another. Imagine if we were able to put our differences aside and band together. We could leverage our resources to move the entire Cedar Valley forward, playing to each of our strengths and working to resolve issues together. This would make it an even better place to live, work, and play. Emily Hanson, Black Hawk County Gaming Association
- Organizations in the Cedar Valley are faced with evaluating their salaries, the benefit packages, how to create more flexibility in their workplaces, and identify other ways they can provide value‐add for their employees. While these things are important to current and prospective employees, company culture is just as important. If employees do not feel they have the following things they may choose employment elsewhere: Sense of purpose, inclusivity (voices heard), trust, emphasis on employee well‐being, focus on training and professional development. Now, more than ever employers need to make an investment in their leaders and help them build a culture of care throughout the organization. Leaders need to be transformative. Relationships matter, employees will stay if they are engaged, inspired, and nurtured. Christina Geweke, University of Northern Iowa
- After listening to my fellow CVLI Leaders I learned that there is a REAL need for affordable transportation for people of all ages. Some of my teammates shared experiences that they have witnessed saying that students are walking over 6 miles just to attend school and elderly are waiting hours to be picked up from appointments only to get notified that the taxi service isn’t coming at all. I think it would be wonderful if there was a service that organized volunteers from all communities in the Cedar Valley and helped to coordinate transportation for people of all ages. Mysti Robbins, Denver Savings Bank
- I feel one of the biggest things the Cedar Valley can do to make this a place people want to call home or visit is to publicize all the good which our community has to offer. In order for this to be effective, the marketing strategy would need to be focused in areas outside of our region in order to draw those people to the area. To have hundreds of miles of bike trails, numerous county and states parks, collegiate and amateur sporting events, and world class arts facilities and museums is remarkable and something to be proud of for a community the size of the Cedar Valley. I truly feel the more these amenities are promoted the more it will draw other amenities which would fill gaps of services which could be improved upon. Tyler Gerdes, John Deere Waterloo Works
- To me it is how any society has thrived throughout history. Through educating. Research has shown that if you educate a country or community, they will be able to thrive not just survive. Through educating and training, that is how the Cedar Valley can grow more. Investing in our workforce development training programs and creating more opportunities for people to master their craft. There are these opportunities in the community, but it seems as though people do not talk about them. We are a community built off of blue-collar, hard-working people, we owe it to everyone to invest in the training of these hard-working people that help the Cedar Valley be what it is today. I took every opportunity possible for training while I worked full-time and went to school, that is how I got where I am today. I am a product of training programs and education. Austin Curfman, Peters Construction Corporation
- Attracting and retaining new talent, in my opinion, is a vital piece to maintaining a strong economy. When we have growth in our economy, it allows our businesses to succeed. This operates hand in hand with the need to fill gaps left in growing businesses. These gaps are best filled with professionals who we would hope to stay in the area and continue to grow these businesses. With a growing population, it will increase the need for additional goods and services. Our analysis looks directly at the current state and expected future growth. We have found that more businesses succeed in growing economies. Lexie Heath, Farmers State Bank
- One of the primary issues needing addressed in the Cedar Valley is adequate access to affordable childcare. Ensuring parents can securely enter the work force elevates businesses and the Cedar Valley, as well as attracts talent to our area. Affordable, developmentally appropriate, and available childcare feels out of reach for so many. The cost of childcare is rising, and even so childcare centers have an increasingly difficult time retaining qualified staff due to wage and funding limitations. The issue is multifaceted; we need quality, safe, affordable childcare taught by well-educated Pre-K teachers. For the Cedar Valley to grow economically, find and retain qualified talent, and elevate individuals from all economic backgrounds into the workforce, we must address the shortage, quality, and cost of childcare. We need braided funding to assist childcare organizations in adequate pay for their employees, and assistance for families at all income levels in affording childcare, and we need to attract qualified individuals into this teaching profession. Alyssa Fruchtenicht, Unity-Point Health Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health
- Affordable Child Care. In the last two weeks I was connected to a family to help them find resources to pay for childcare. They are a family with both parents working out of the home, a child with a brain injury, Dad is a veteran, and they cannot afford full time childcare. During our phone conversations I learned so much about how our Child Care Assistance program does not serve the need. The family makes an income combine of $64,000 and it does not pay their childcare bill after all bills are paid. I think the Cedar Valley could look at a scholarship program to help families pay partial costs. This only helps our families succeed by supporting the childcare. An idea is to have this be a Private, Public Partnership for funding. Many more ideas can make this work, but this would only allow our community to sustain and grow. Mary Janseen, Child Care Resource and Referral of Northeast Iowa
- One of the issues that our community needs to address in order to #GrowTheCedarValley and become an exceptional place to live, work and play would be to provide more public transportation. In other major cities, the trolleybus system is utilized for its citizens as a convenient way for them to move through the city. By providing public transportation such as trolley buses would be beneficial for our community. The trolleybus system could also operate 24 hours and be free of charge to the riders. By adopting these changes, the community could help people in getting to and from places. People will be able to get to school, work, home and medical appointments. The change in the transportation system could also be beneficial to people who are mitigating different States and/or Countries. This will help with the familiarity of the city and how to get around from place to places. Trista Hill, Tri-County Child & Family Development Council, Inc.
- I would like to see the Cedar Valley continue to grow connections between business, community and education. There is no doubt that business and community support our educational systems. They do this through grants, donations, and time. However, I would love to see us develop a system that allows for all high school students to explore the professional lives, careers and industries that exist in our backyard. Programs such as the Waterloo Career Center and the Cedar Falls CAPS program have initiated this, but until we get the Cedar Valley as a whole to fully understand their mission, we can’t bridge the gap of education and workforce. Chris Wood, Cedar Falls Community Schools
- I think one issue is retaining talented people in the Cedar Valley. Due to several factors, college attendance continues to decline so it is more important than ever for the business community to do everything they can to retain talented people in the Cedar Valley rather than leaving for Des Moines or other bigger cities. It is also important to educate high school students what careers are available in the area that don’t require a college education. Eric Hanna, Hogan-Hansen, P.C.
- To me that one issue is mental health. In the article someone stated that 1 in 5 adult Americans are experiencing a mental illness. This has been an area that has hit home for me, especially over the last couple of years. I think this issue is the stem of a lot of other problems that we have in our community. When someone is having a difficult time with their mental health, it’s difficult for them to focus at work, focus on their home life and even get themselves out of bed at times. We don’t have very much education and understanding on these topics, so many employers in this area do not offer mental health days. I think we need to have more readily available resources, like therapy, mental health days off work and especially funding for these things I have listed off. Selvedina Nuhanovic, Vine Valley Real Estate
- I believe the Cedar Valley is a great place to live and work. After living here most of my life, I now realize the struggles families & single income households face with affording childcare as well as finding it. In the small communities within the Cedar Valley there are limited daycares available. In addition to this problem the daycares themselves struggle to stay open because of the cost. I, myself, am grateful my son got into the daycare in our town and that the school does transport him to the daycare during the day. There are a lot of families that are not as lucky. Tessa Heidemann, Lincoln Savings Bank
- One issue I would like to see the leaders continue to address is the mental health needs of our community. Cedar Valley is a melting pot enriched with many different cultures, cultural beliefs and experiences. We need a strong program built through community outreach and schools to educate people in our community about the intergenerational trauma and its significant effects on mental health and family systems. Education is the key to open up channels of healing, provide support and fight the stigma. Nermina Salkic-Miskic, Lincoln Savings Bank
- One broad but important issue I think needs to be addressed to grow the Cedar Valley is togetherness. Increasingly, both because of COVID isolation for many and the growing trends in technology pushing personal interaction online, there is an expanding disconnect within the community. While the community needs to embrace and further develop on this technology trend, I believe there is an opportunity to be much more creative about new ways the Cedar Valley can bring people together. We can highlight and share information throughout the Cedar Valley about successes and failures in different areas in the community. We can develop, grow and support new events, venues and businesses that bring people together. Most importantly, we can creatively identify and execute on new strategies to bring all members of our community some similarity or commonality by finding ways to provide consistent high-quality goods and services like childcare and education. What I am asking for is that while we will need to continue to focus on the tangible needs of our community, we need to find a way to invest both money and time into the intangible idea of a community if we truly expect the Cedar Valley to grow and succeed long-term. Bill Nolte, BerganKDV
- Attracting talent and retaining the talent we already have could be done by focusing on a few important attributes. There needs to be more of and more types of good paying career opportunities in the Cedar Valley. By attracting more types of and bigger employers to the Cedar Valley, we can then attract more talented individuals and create opportunities that people will move here for. There needs to continue to be a way that residents of the Cedar Valley have not only affordable but quality housing. I feel the Cedar Valley can do better in creating new (yet affordable) housing opportunities to replace some of the less desirable options. Pride in one’s home and neighborhood goes a long ways toward a myriad of different issues such as education and crime to name a few. I think the Cedar Valley has done an exceptional job in creating opportunities for families to have recreational and social opportunities – A big driver of attracting talent. Bike trails, museums, opportunities for aquatic recreation, etc. are examples of additional projects that afford these types of opportunities – all of which have increased. In my opinion, the Cedar Valley is a great place to live, work and play, we as a region need to continue to innovate and invest in these type of projects to ensure that for next 20 years, we put ourselves in the best position to attract and retain talent here in the Cedar Valley. Adam Milller, VGM Group, Inc.
- The one issue that I feel can help #GrowTheCedarValley is the recruitment and retainment of young talent. In order to recruit and retain young talent, the activities and amenities provided need to continue to develop in the Cedar Valley to attract people. Young people are critical in growing the community. They turn into the next round of leaders and are out supporting the local economy and organizations. We need to show them the Cedar Valley is a great place to raise a family and that our smaller town feel is way better than the big cities. Michael Thole, Levi Architecture
- The one issue that I feel would be beneficial to the Cedar Valley would be to continue to develop strategies to attract and retain talent in the Cedar Valley. Our organizations need a larger population of workforce in order to remain viable for most industries. With the shortage of talent in almost every profession, most of our employers are very often competing for the same talent and are hoping those that have just graduated will want to stay in the area versus leaving to other areas that may have more economic opportunities. Without talented individuals staying in the community to work it's harder to produce or maintain operations of a business, which therefore affects the quality and quantity of products and services in our area. Amanda McCormick, Western Home Communities
- Businesses thrive in a walkable city. If we truly want to attract businesses large and small, we need an infrastructure overhaul to make our cities more pedestrian friendly. Not only would retail and restaurant traffic increase due to the added foot traffic, but we would also see offices move to the area for a better environment for their employees. If we could create more pedestrian dedicated “streets” we would see a large increase in business recruitment, retention and development. Zach Hansen, Invision Architecture
- One issue our community needs to address to #GrowTheCedarValley and become an exceptional place to live, work and play is to develop talent already living in our community. A tactic to accomplish this goal, and one I’m passionate about, is promoting financial literacy. I strongly believe if Cedar Valley citizens have access and motivation to increase their personal financial literacy, great employees and great business success will follow. Financial literacy is an integral part of overall health. In a study recently done for a client, we know that Iowans, specifically Iowan women, have a desire to be more involved in the financial decision-making process in their home, but they lack empowering resources to act. A strong community will attract strong business and recruit an even stronger workforce who will decide to make the Cedar Valley their home. Ruby Hibben, AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising
- One issue or challenge facing the Cedar Valley that needs to be addressed to grow the community and help businesses continue to thrive is the shortage of skilled labor workers. Companies need to partner with schools to make students aware of the profession and then share potential advancement and growth opportunities. Share the salary information for these jobs, I feel there are misconceptions out there. Also consider second-chance applicants, companies partnering with community probation officers to help find those out of prison a job in a skilled trade and making the person feel valued. I would love to see companies’ partner with schools for something similar to a summer school program when the student could get a credit or something. Similar to an internship where the student works for a company that employs skilled trade workers so the individual can learn on the job, and it also opens their eyes to other opportunities. Missy Neebel, Veridian Credit Union
- One of the biggest issues our community needs to address in order to #GrowTheCedarValley is the number of qualified people in our workforce. As a commercial banker I work with many business owners and currently nearly every one of them sites getting employees as their biggest challenge. Many of them are limiting their hours and turning away work because they do not have enough employees. Seth Engelbrecht, First Bank
- As an employee of a Cedar Valley non-profit whose mission is to help people overcome barriers to independence, I know that reliable transportation is a barrier faced by countless people in Northeast Iowa. Many individuals who are not financially self-sufficient report transportation as their primary barrier to employment. Without reliable transportation, it limits the geographic area an individual can apply for a job, using public transit limits the hours/shifts individuals are available to work and public transportation can also result in being late to work, which is out of the rider's control and can result in job loss. Obtaining reliable transportation would be a game-changer for an individual's ability to gain employment and lift themselves out of poverty. It would also provide local businesses with a much-needed increase in their workforce. Andrew Mauer, Goodwill Industries
- The number one challenge facing the Cedar Valley, and Iowa, is talent recruitment and retention. I believe the issue of talent recruitment and retention is best addressed by targeting and improving the Business Environment. This could include encouraging business and patent creation, lowering tax burdens, courting large companies to move business to our area, and increasing venture capital. Each of these categories will require a focused and coordinated solution. if community leaders can agree on this target for improvement and growth, then prosperity will surely find the Cedar Valley. Another opportunity lies with a trending movement in the development and architectural community towards adaptive reuse architecture, or the redevelopment of old buildings into a new creative purpose. By developing an inventory of existing structures, doing some front-end leg work to create a program for potential adaptive reuse, and collecting information on available financing incentives, a preliminary proforma could be created to hand out to potential developers. This would speed up the process of redevelopment and directly address the issue of increasing venture capital and lowering tax burdens. New redevelopment programs could include: recreational activities, food and beverage, housing, office space, etc. Many of these spaces would in turn also address business environment in the Cedar Valley. Cody Vanasse, ISG, Inc.
- There were a few challenges I personally experienced, adjusting to living in Cedar Valley when I moved here first. However, what caught my eye most was lack of attention given to making cedar valley neighborhoods more eye pleasing. I strongly believe aesthetics of cities matter. Edward McMahon (who holds the Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.) writes that “Successful communities pay attention to aesthetics. They control signs, they plant street trees, they protect scenic views and historic buildings, and they encourage new construction to fit in with the existing community”. Cedar valley is still growing and expanding neighborhoods to undeveloped land. Therefore, this would be a perfect opportunity to create that attractive neighborhood everyone wants to come and live in. Cities charm new residents and businesses if streets, parks & public spaces are attractive & inviting. People can grow and thrive in such neighborhoods. Pavithra Wettasinghe, Invision Architecture
- Economic balance in our community and affordable housing are issues that Waterloo/Cedar Falls face. A living wage is something that should be available for all within our community. This would lend to a revitalization of our community as a whole. The East side of Waterloo has long been neglected in areas of business investments and improved housing. A refocused approach to business expansion on the East side of Waterloo would reduce the economic imbalance we see in the Cedar Valley. Eric Russell, John Deere
- I believe one extremely important focus area in the Cedar Valley should be on attracting and retaining new, young professionals along with providing the resources they need to continue to grow both professionally and personally. If businesses in the Cedar Valley are able to shift their focus on retaining their skilled, young professionals this will help build the new backbone of companies in the future along with providing new talent and ideas to the table to help businesses rebuild and grow. If young professionals are satisfied with their current profession and employer, they will begin to establish roots within the community which provides a positive economic impact. Haleigh Sperfslage, Farmers State Bank
- I believe one major challenge that the Cedar Valley is facing and needs to address is our childcare dilemma. Many young adults of childbearing age are struggling to find childcare options that are a good fit for their current or future needs. The lack of childcare facilities and options available in the Cedar Valley are causing working adults to reconsider their work arrangements. Along with the lack of childcare options available in our area, it seems that because demand is so high and the supply is so low, the cost increases are burdensome to working parents who want to afford a life in the Cedar Valley that allows them to truly live, work, and play along with the other necessary financial responsibilities such as saving for retirement and affording health care insurance, etc. Some of those adults are considering whether it is feasible to no longer be a dual-income household, to allow for one parent to stay at home and care for their child(ren). I believe it is imperative to the Cedar Valley's economic development to have as many talented individuals working as possible, and in order to ensure those adults can remain working, we need more child care options available in our area that are also affordable and a place these adults are comfortable leaving their children throughout the work week. Ashlyn Kullen, Cardinal Construction
- Diversity and inclusion efforts is a challenge that the Cedar Valley needs to address. I think within diversity and inclusion specifically, our challenge centers around recruiting and retaining talent through providing equal opportunities to all. The next step after providing that access and mentorship would be to keep that diverse talent in our Cedar Valley to then keep the circle going and give back to the next generation and to continue improving on our opportunities. There is no question that having diverse representation at companies, on boards, or having a seat at the table for any conversation strengthens that group and therefore the community. While there may be internship programs available at businesses, we could expand upon the opportunity to provide more meaningful mentorship programs to youth, young leaders, or individuals at any level and ensuring there is diverse representation. Holly DiMarco, PDCM Insurance
- The shortage of skilled labor is an important issue that needs to be addressed. The skilled labor shortage and pressure to attend 4-year institutions has put the ownership on companies to go into high schools and start recruiting students for these skilled labor positions. They show students that joining a skilled workforce or attending a trade school can be just as rewarding and financially beneficial as attending a university. Companies need do this to ensure they have skilled labor for decades to come. While I admire many companies for taking this initiative, I feel we need to see a societal shift that takes the pressure off attending college, but rather focuses on highlighting all career fields. Schools must continue to expand tech programs and provide opportunities for students to job shadow, tour, and take part in career fields that interest them. Providing opportunities like this ahead of students deciding which university they will attend can open their eyes to rewarding careers that they may not have otherwise considered. I believe that the Cedar Valley could become an even more exceptional play to live and work if our students graduating high school are confident they are entering a career field they are passionate about, and at the same time we supplied industries with skilled labor. Tim Steffensmeier, John Deere
- Crime is often a leading indicator on where people want to spend their time and invest in the community. I feel we need to invest in more self-help programs that are not handout based, community-based support structures, more rehabilitation options for offenders, as well as harsher penalties for repeat offenders. High crime can create stigma for areas and stifle the overall growth of our communities. We can continue serving those around us that are in need, so they are less likely to choose crime as well as invest in tools and self-help structures that make it easier for someone to not make the choice to commit crimes or poor decisions that lead to a cycle of crime. To continue the healthy growth of our community, we need to ensure it stays a place where people want to raise their families, invest in business, as well as invest back into the broader community. Zack Hilmer, Western Home Communities
- The first challenge is the shortage of skilled labor. I think the new career center is a good start to addressing this issue. It is giving students a chance to see what kind of trade they might be interested in before they enroll in secondary education. The reason this would make our community better is because it will lead to more affordable housing. The second one is affordable and reliable child care. This one hits close to home, because I have a 2 year old daughter and a son that is due January 9th. My wife and I could not believe the financial burden of daycare. She has a decent paying job at Cuna Mutual Group, and from a financial standpoint it almost made sense for her to quit her job. I feel like this is not good for the community if we have daycare costs outweighing a “good” paying job. I also put reliable in there, because we have had a lot of employees miss a lot of work due to not having reliable daycare. This usually results in an attendance issue that could lead to termination. Zachary Garrigus, VGM Group, Inc.
- A major issue holding back our Cedar Valley community from flourishing is housing. If we look at what the community is seeing as the need in our area regarding housing, we can see there are several areas in which housing is less than adequate. This includes homelessness, quality of housing, affordability of housing, low home-ownership rates by local residents, inadequate housing for the mentally ill or disabled, etc. I believe a home greatly impacts one's quality of life. Shelter is a physiological need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Until a physiological need is satisfied, we as humans are not able to focus or improve upon other areas of our lives. By not addressing the housing issue prevalent in parts of our community, we are holding back residents of our Cedar Valley from truly reaching their greatest potential. If we desire to grow the Cedar Valley and become an exceptional place in which all individuals can live, work, and play, we must turn our attention to the complex issue of housing. Nicole Deerberg, Cedar Valley United Way
- The issue / challenge in the Cedar Valley that I have identified is recruiting and retaining talent in our businesses, nonprofit and charitable organizations, and city and county governmental bodies. In the 1 year and 8 months I have been back living and working in Waterloo, I have spoken with several individuals about, and observed the reality of, the need for additional talent here—in particular, more individuals who are in the earlier stages of their trade or profession and committed to building on the growth of businesses and charitable and nonprofit organizations in the Cedar Valley. What our community needs is a group of individuals who are willing and able to carry the torch as it is passed from one generation to the next. Ultimately, the need for attracting and retaining talent in our community is directly tied to our goal and desire to position our businesses, organizations, and governmental bodies for success not only in the near-term, but well into the future. These institutions will only ever be as strong and impactful as the individuals who lead, run, and sustain them. As a result, we must focus on continuing to identify, develop, and retain leaders who are committed to learning from our current leaders and pushing for our community’s prosperity and future success. John Richter, Beecher Law Firm
- A very current challenge facing the Cedar Valley is the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic on our healthcare system. Black Hawk County currently lags both the state of Iowa as a whole and every other major metropolitan area county in vaccination rate at 56.8%. COVID-19 has placed a significant burden on our healthcare systems and workforce, increasing patient volumes in all settings. These additional constraints placed on the system mean patients needing healthcare for other conditions are often delayed or deferred. Healthcare workers are leaving the field due to burnout and we aren’t able to recruit to replace them at the same pace. Continued concerted efforts to increase vaccination rates are needed to curb serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. Current data from the Iowa Department of Public Health shows that of those patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 81.1% are unvaccinated, and of those in the ICU currently due to COVID-19, 86% are unvaccinated. The goal of vaccination is not to eliminate disease but to limit the seriousness of the illness and risk of hospitalization. Our hospitals, health systems and communities cannot sustain otherwise particularly in areas like the Cedar Valley where we are lagging behind in vaccination efforts. Carolyn Barko, UnityPoint Health
- I have several issues that I think we could all work on to make the Cedar Valley a better place to work, live and play, but I’m going to narrow it down to working together. Cedar Falls and Waterloo are both very different, yet very similar at the same time. They are both great towns to live in with different attractions and things they are proud of. However, it seems to always be a competition between not only the cities, but the citizens as well on who is doing the right thing and who is better. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to prove a point, it would be much more beneficial to put everyones hard work together and come up with solutions that everyone can be happy with. We have so much talent and it goes to waste when people are too stubborn and not willing to compromise. Collin Olson, Dupaco Community Credit Union