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Lisa Skubal


WATERLOO — The Waterloo-Cedar Falls area has made a top 22 national list of successful manufacturing-intensive communities.

The list was put out by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

The study identifies manufacturing intensive communities in the United States that were performing well from 2000 to 2015.

Study author Timothy J. Bartik identified three strategies used by those on the list:

  • Expand customized services to small and medium-sized manufactuers.
  • Invest in infrastructure and services that make the community’s land better for business development.
  • Increase public spending on services that increase local workers’ job skill.

According to the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, the greater Waterloo-Cedar Falls manufacturing hub attributes its success to the partnering of private organizations with public entities to develop programs that create and carry out all three strategies.

The Alliance reports 75 percent of manufacturers interviewed since 2010 have reported they are growing.

There are a large number of programs and initiatives working to promote manufacturing growth in the Cedar Valley, according to Lisa Skubal, Alliance vice president of economic development.

She said starting in 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. Higher education institutions also have developed technical training programs for college students.

Hawkeye Community College uses the 260E and 260F training programs to train new employees and “upskill” current employees of area manufacturers. HCC and the University of Northern Iowa have partnered to create the UNI Metal Casting Additive Manufacturing Center.

The Alliance said the cities have helped in attracting new manufacturers or helped those already here to grow. They’ve done this by developing land and allotting land to be used by manufacturing operations. “Additionally, businesses can receive tax credits when developing and building on brownfields through the Iowa Economic Development Authority,” Skubel said, which the Alliance assists with the application process.

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