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New BCEDC Website
Veteran's Career Fair - April 23
Award's Dinner for BCEDC Leadership
Business Profile: Pries Enterprises
$$ targeted for Highway 20, 4-lane project
Lt. Governor Visits Buchanan County

 

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A weekly newsletter from the Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC)

The primary mission of Buchanan County Economic Development (BCEDC) is to foster a strong economic environment which supports business, nurtures growth and new investment while attracting sustainable businesses and a quality labor force to our communities. The organization will rely on trusting relationships to unite the communities of Buchanan County to promote and facilitate economic development, and to improve the quality of life in our area by building sustainable wealth for those who live, work and play in this portion of the Cedar Valley Region of Iowa.

New BCEDC Website

There’s no place like home, and the new website for the Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC) has come home.  The BCEDC is committed to growing Buchanan County businesses and when the Board of Directors discussed creating a new website, they looked for local businesses to serve their needs. The BCEDC commissioned Fusion Forward Design and Marketing of Independence to build the new site.  Fusion Forward’s talented staff developed a new website that provides pertinent information in an easy to navigate format.  Thea company to host the website and Independence Light and Power Telecommunications (Indytel) has the capability to host websites.  Indytel Telecom Manager Marty is to be commended for working closely with all parties to bringing the website to life.
 
In addition to cost savings for the BCEDC, there are benefits to working with Buchanan County technology companies.  Answers and resolutions to problems can be easily addressed by local businesses…a phone call and a quick visit.  The technology professionals live in Buchanan County and they can more easily relate to the content of the website and issues that may arise. The fact that the BCEDC is keeping business in the County is beneficial to all.

Check out the new site and keep it local!

 

Veteran’s Career Fair
 
A career fair targeting veterans will be held be held Thursday, April 23 at the Sullivan Brothers Veterans Museum, 503 S. St. Waterloo.  map   

For employers there will be a 9 a.m.  panel discussion on financial resources and supportive services available through agencies that manage state and federal programs. These programs will educate employers’ on veteran hiring subsidies through special employer incentives, tax benefits, internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs.
 
The career fair takes place from 10:30-3:15.  Veterans will have the opportunity to meet with potential employers and they can secure information support resources available to veterans. Attendees are encouraged to bring resumes or a job history to enable them to better interact with businesses.
 
During that same 10:30-3:15pm period, there will be 4 breakout sessions that will run concurrently. Employers can attend the sessions to get an in-depth look at some of the state-wide resources available to them on a range of different topics. It's  a career fair and an employer educational seminar grouped into one. A light breakfast and lunch from Tyson is provided to attending businesses.
 
Click here to  to register information (registration for employers is $50), and it’s limited to 30 employers total.  It is free, however, for businesses to have any of their employees attend the morning panel discussion and breakout sessions if they could benefit from the information on how to connect with and provide for Veteran employees.  

 
 
Awards Dinner Held for County Leadership Program
By: Barbara Bullerman
 
The Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC) recently held an eight week Leadership Development Program.  The course culminated with an awards banquet and a celebration of gaining leadership skills, confidence and finding new friends.
 
Thirteen citizens of Buchanan County, from 8 different communities, participated in the Leadership Program.  Meetings were held each week in different cities within the county.  Topics discussed varied from expectations of a leadership team, grant and press release writing, communication and the impact of social media, project management and planning, as well as recruiting and managing volunteers. The program, in its first year in Buchanan County, teaches the skills needed to encourage and support community involvement by individuals who want to make a difference in their communities.  Plans are to hold this class again next year, and then on a biennial basis. 
 
Eleanor McGraw-Riley, Mayor of Lamont was one of the participants.  She was quite impressed with the program and said “It just shows that you aren’t too old to learn.  I found the session on communication and social media to be informative and challenging”.  While another participant, Brittany Annis, added “I am very happy to have learned some tools to use in working as the Assistant City Clerk in Fairbank.”
 
The participants of these classes were members of their community’s service clubs, nonprofit organizations, a high school student, city council members, government employees and business owners and employees.  These people came together to learn how to improve their own management skills and bring that knowledge back to their local organizations. 
 
“The leadership program is one of the most important activities the BCEDC can support. Economic and community development will most likely happen when people choose to become involved in their communities. The leadership program gives people the tools needed to be successful in moving their communities forward.” said BCEDC Director George Lake.
 
After a great meal, keynote speaker Mr. Dennis Jordan took the podium. Jordan is the Business Development Manager for M. A. Mortenson Co. and has spent 14 years as Vice President Economic Development for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.
 
The evening ended with each participate receiving a framed certificate of course completion
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Pries Enterprises: The Next Generation
By BCEDC Intern, Adam Goedken
 
When passing by Independence on Highway 20, it’s hard not to miss the big grey building and proud American flag of Pries Enterprises. Pries is an aluminum extrusion plant started in 1975 by Art Pries and Merle McMahon. Combining Pries’ know-how in aluminum extrusion and McMahon’s business expertise, the two decided to start their own manufacturing company. In the mid-90s, Pries Enterprises made Independence its permanent home. Matt McMahon, the current CEO of the company agreed to sit down and talk about his job, the family business, and modern manufacturing.
 
Matt is Merle McMahon’s son. After Merle passed away a few years ago, Matt took over the 150,000 square foot manufacturing facility on the Southeast side of town. When asked how the manufacturing business has changed since the company started in the 70s, he said, “There are a lot better manufacturing capabilities. The company has much more output now than when it started. We had 180 employees at our height, and now we have 100 employees, but three times the output,” McMahon explained. In the next ten years, however, he doesn’t anticipate much change. “I hope there’s not a lot more change. From the technology standpoint, we still use a press from the 1950s. A press is a press. Hopefully there will be more operational efficiencies, but I don’t foresee a ton of changes in the industry.”
 
It makes sense that Mr. McMahon doesn’t want much to change going forward. From the beginning, Pries Enterprises was about making quality products and doing the job right. Running any business however, is not without its problems. “The hardest part is that you have a greater responsibility,” Matt explained, when asked about the challenges of running a company. “The stresses are a little greater. You can’t just walk away from it. The biggest stress is probably making sure the customer is satisfied, and making sure you’re putting out good material, on time.” McMahon’s problem solving strategy is centered around teamwork. “Most of the time, there’s no single person making decisions. We have meetings every morning and team leaders go through problems. I definitely don’t have all the answers. Whenever someone is going to be impacted by a decision, we have to get their input.”
 
Mr. McMahon’s respect and care for his employees became clear as he talked. He feels helping employees is the most important thing for a business to focus on. “When your employees are happy, you get a better turnover. They’re going to take pride in their jobs and it all flows down.” Matt said the best part of his job is being able to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives. “Coming in, being with the people and seeing what they do every day, seeing you’re actually making a change, whether you’re adding more people, or you’re seeing something like an employee buying a car, things like that—that’s cool. You feel like it’s not just a job. The really good moments are when you kind of take a bet on someone and they come through, or you give someone a second chance and they turn out really good employees. There was a time I came into work when we were coming out of a recession. Things were getting better, and a guy pulled me aside and said, ‘I didn’t know what was going to happen (when Merle McMahon passed away). I didn’t know if you guys would sell out, if I’d even have a job, but now that you’re here and have taken over, things are going well enough that I’m going to buy a house.’ That’s 5 years later and I still remember that.”
 
McMahon shared some advice from his father that he always keeps in mind. “About six years ago or more, during the economic downturn, my dad pulled me aside and said, “Matt, you’ve got to remember it’s not about the money, it’s about the employees. It’s about the town.’” Those are words Mr. McMahon has made sure to live by. Pries is about doing things the right way; their employees and the town are the true heart of the business. They believe in putting out quality products and putting people first, and that’s what sets them apart.

 

Highway 20 Widening to Get Help from Gas Tax Increase

 

With more gas tax rolling in from newly passed Senate Bill 257, the Iowa Transportation Commission is ramping up efforts to add four-lane sections to U.S. 20 in northwest Iowa.

 

The commission Tuesday approved a draft of amendments to the state's 2015 Highway Program spending totaling $33.2 million-the total additional amount the gas tax increase is expected to generate through June 30. They include funds for the purchase of right-of-way for widening U.S. 20 from Correctionville to west of the junction of U.S. 20 and U.S. 59.

 

The right-of-way purchases will accelerate development of the remaining portions of the U.S. 20 widening project, the DOT said in a press release. Eventually, the project will allow four-lane traffic to cross Iowa from Sioux City to Dubuque.

The US 20 Corridor Association has been working on this project since the 1960s. Businesses, Legislators, Chambers, Economic Development organizations along the corridor have set statewide four-lane US 20 as their number one priority.

The DOT has published a full list of the projects added with the $33.2 million on its web site.

 

Article courtesy of the Corridor Business Journal

Lt. Governor Visits Buchanan County

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds visited Iowa Engineered Processes Corp (IEPC), April 6 in Independence.  Lt. Governor Reynolds spent 45 minutes meeting with IEPC staff, touring the facility and observing IEPC’s  Cascade Deburring system in action. When told that Cascade is sold throughout the world and is used by most major automobile companies in their manufacturing process, LTG Reynolds expressed amazement and pride in Iowa companies like IEPC. “Iowa technology and Iowa workers can compete with anyone anywhere. A small, family owned company like Iowa Engineered Processes is showing the world that Iowa manufacturing is second to none.”
 
For the past thirty years, IEPC has been building and refining the Cascade Deburring and Cleaning System. The Cascade System is a patented process for the cleaning, polishing and deburring of metal castings. With Cascade systems established in 10 countries on three continents, this unique process has set the standard for manufacturers around the world.
 
“It is gratifying to see the Lt. Governor and Governor visit companies in Buchanan County,” exclaimed Buchanan County Economic Development Director George Lake.  “Our county has been blessed with state legislators who understand that our manufacturers are the foundation of the State’s economy. It’s satisfying to know the Governor and Lt. Governor have stated that they too are committed to helping Iowa Companies grow.”

 
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The Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC)
P.O. Box 109
Independence, IA  50644

Street address: 112 1st St. East, Independence,  IA  50644

Contact: George Lake, Executive Director
319-334-7497   director@growbuchanan.com   www.growbuchanan.com

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