posted on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 in Blog

CEDAR FALLS/ WATERLOO, Iowa – Waterloo/Cedar Falls positioned among the top 22 successful manufacturing intensive communities according to the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

In May 2018, Timothy J. Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute released a study identifying manufacturing intensive communities in the United States that were performing well from 2000 – 2015, when most of these types of communities were suffering.

Bartik identified three strategies that were utilized in the successful communities.

  1. “Expand customized services to small and medium-sized manufacturers.”
  2. “Invest in infrastructure and services that make the community's land better for business development.”
  3. “Increase public spending on services that increase local workers' job skills.”

The greater Cedar Falls/ Waterloo manufacturing hub attributes this success to the partnering of private organizations with public entities to develop programs that create and carry out all three of the strategies mentioned. The Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber has seen this to be true; reporting that 75% of manufacturers interviewed since 2010 have reported that they are growing. There are a large number of programs and initiatives working to promote manufacturing growth in the Cedar Valley.

Starting in area high schools, the Waterloo Career Center and Cedar Falls CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) are offering manufacturing programs to expose students to the industry as well as connect them with area organizations. Higher education institutions have developed technical training programs designed to provide college students with the skills to be successful and the connections to build great careers here in the Cedar Valley.

Hawkeye Community College (HCC) uses the 260E and 260F training programs. 260E is a program for training of new employees and 260F is a training program to upskill current employees. Furthermore, HCC and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) partnered to create the UNI Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing Center. This center is housed within TechWorks, the first technology park of its kind in Iowa to combine world-class business amenities within a Brownfield industrial redevelopment project.

The study notes that from 2000 – 2015, the United States saw an 8.5% increase in the overall job growth while manufacturing intensive communities saw a 2.7% decrease. Waterloo and Cedar Falls governments and the Alliance & Chamber continuously recognize the importance of providing resources to existing business, to encourage and support their growth.

To attract new manufacturers to the area and encourage the growth of current manufacturers, the cities are proactive about developing land and allotting land to be used by manufacturing operations. Additionally, businesses can receive tax credits when developing and building on brownfields through Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The Alliance & Chamber assists with this application process. This has allowed the area to use the Cedar Valley's city space efficiently.

For small to mid-sized manufacturers, CIRAS (Center for Industrial Research and Service) has been a phenomenal asset to organizations here in the Cedar Valley; providing high quality consulting at a more affordable rate.

All these efforts by the city governments, educational institutions, the Alliance & Chamber and the hard work of Cedar Valley manufacturers contributed to the growth of the region, earning its spot in Upjohn's top 22 successful manufacturing intensive communities.