CEDAR FALLS — Information technology and development guru Mark Kittrell has been named to the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Local officials believe it is the first time a Waterloo-Cedar Falls resident has held a spot on the IEDA or predecessor boards in more than 25 years. Iowa State Sen. Harry Slife, the former Rath Packing Co. and KWWL-TV executive who died in 1994, had served on the Iowa Development Commission.
Kittrell is not an unknown in state as well as local development circles, but hopes he can be a conduit for information on state entrepreneurial incentives for the Cedar Valley region as well as raise the area’s profile to an even higher level with the state.
“It’s not something that you turn down, and I stepped right in,” Kittrell said.
Kittrell said he spoke with IEDA Director Debi Durham at a recent Cedar Valley legislative event in Des Moines and suggested she may have recommended him to the governor.
Kittrell’s been involved in numerous innovation, entrepreneurial and technology bodies with the state for many years, including the Iowa Innovation Council.
“I’ve worked with regional and state economic development institutions for a long time,” Kittrell said. “This is the next logical place to go.
“I think my main focus is going to be making the Cedar Valley aware of what the authority is doing,” Kittrell said. “There’s different programs I hope to get a better education on to bring that information back to the community.”
For example he noted one initiative, the Iowa Demonstration Fund, designed to provide assistance to companies with market-ready innovative technologies or products, has reviewed more than 300 applications over the past 10 years and only two successful applications have gone to Cedar Valley firms.
“We should do 22 more,” he said.
There’s a number of small- and medium-sized businesses in the Cedar Valley that are completely occupied with running their businesses and may not be aware of state-level assistance available, Kittrell suggested. By virtue of his presence on the IEDA board, “I hope we can do a better job of bringing that information and making that information available” through organizations such as the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, the Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments and city governments, as well as the University of Northern Iowa.
Kittrell, a founder of Team Electronics, later Team Technologies, and partners were involved in the development of information technology through Team and various spinoff and successor enterprises.
Most recently, Kittrell, as co-founder and CEO of Eagle View Partners, has been heavily involved in the River Place development along State and East Second streets in downtown Cedar Falls.
He has held past board positions with the Alliance and Chamber and still sits on the board of the Cedar Valley TechWorks, an entrepreneurial and product development center in former John Deere manufacturing buildings on Westfield Avenue near downtown Waterloo. He noted the state has supported the development of TechWorks for years.
Kittrell’s appointment was praised by a member of the Cedar Valley’s Statehouse delegation.
“I’m excited and thankful for Mark’s willingness to serve on such a prestigious statewide board,” said State Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo. “The Cedar Valley has economic momentum right now and with Mark’s leadership it will only get better.”