CBJ Workforce Leaders 2019

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for their best practices and

innovative strategies


Many different pieces drive

successful regional economy

Lori Sundberg

Our regional workforce is really quite amazing when you take a

step back and look at it. From a bird’s eye view, it resembles one

massive machine that keeps the regional economy roaring. But if

you take a closer look, you see that it’s not just one entity at all. It’s

actually many different pieces contributing to the success of the

larger whole.

All across our area, businesses are setting the industry standard

and making a name for our entire region. These companies

are successful because they employ some of our most promising

workforce leaders of today and tomorrow. As a result of their individual

efforts, great things are being done in crucial industries for

our area. Their successes have a cumulative effect that extends far

beyond the walls of a single business. That kind of impact needs

to be celebrated.

The CBJ Workforce Awards give us a chance to do just that.

When we recognize the accomplishments of these high-achieving

companies, many things can happen. For one, it encourages

them to continue to strive for greater heights. At the same time,

other companies will be inspired to go on to realize their own successes

in workforce development. With more successful workforce

strategies and practices, additional businesses will thrive, which

means more students, candidates and employees will thrive, too.

All of this bodes well for the regional economy, and is part of the

constant cycle of workforce development, where Kirkwood Community

College plays a major role.

For more than 50 years, Kirkwood has been dedicated to building

the workforce in our seven-county service area. Over that span,

the college has partnered with business and industry, as well as

community leaders, to nurture the growth of our regional labor

pool. Through these partnerships, we develop the curriculum necessary

to educate and train the next generation of workforce superstars

who will lead the way and ensure that we continue down a

prosperous road together.

The overall health of our regional workforce and economy is

a team effort. A win for one of us is a win for all of us. Congratulations

to all of our colleagues on their awards and accomplishments.

May they inspire the next wave of innovation and success

in our area.


Lori Sundberg


Kirkwood Community College





Best Internship Program

Small Company


Excellence in Employer

& Education Workforce


John F. Lohman



Aspen N. Lohman


Andrea Rhoades



Adam Moore



Angela Holmes



Dave DeWitte




Best Internship Program

Large Company


Best Training for


Employment Needs

Katharine Carlon



Becky Lyons



Julia Druckmiller




Best Marketing &

Recruitment Campaign


New Jobs Training

260E Award

Lauren Fletcher



Kelly Meyer



Rhonda Roskos



Jean Suckow




Best Hiring Strategies

of Iowa Graduates


Best Retention Strategy

Ashley Moore



Samantha Kollasch



Vicki Dean



Jackie Meyer



Connecting the threads from a

year of workforce reporting

begins on page 5

2 0 1 9

Corridor Business Journal

2345 Landon Rd. Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317

Phone: (319) 665-NEWS (6397)

Fax: (319) 665-8888





CBJ 2019 Workforce Awards


Name/Address Contact Information Award Employees

Cedar Rapids Community School District

2500 Edgewood Road NW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52405

Clickstop, Inc.

202 Blue Creek Drive

Urbana, IA 52345

Holmes Murphy

201 First St. SE, Ste. 700

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401


465 Highway 1 West

Iowa City, IA 52246

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

1400 Inspiration Place SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Tanager Place

2309 C St. SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

University of Iowa Center for Advancement

1 W. Park Road

Iowa City, IA 52244

Van Meter Inc.

850 32nd Ave. SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Source: Staff research

Note: Entries may be edited for length and clarity.

Name / Address Contact Information Award Local Employees

(319) 558-2000



(800) 383-0592



(319) 364-0648



(319) 248-5620



(319) 362-8500



(319) 365-9164



(800) 648-6973

(319) 321-7407



(800) 247-1410

(319) 366-5301



Employer & Education Workforce Collaboration 2,800

Training for Existing Employment Needs 185

Hiring Strategies of Iowa Graduates 38

New Jobs Training 260E 54

Internship Program (Small Company) 22

Retention Strategy 250

Internship Program (Large Company) 260

Marketing & Recruitment Campaign 250


Workforce Series

Our award-winning journalists researched

and reported on the causes and symptoms

of Iowa’s worker shortage in this exclusive,

six-part series. Read the full series and gather

valuable takeaways and solutions your

company can use to build a better workforce

in the year ahead.

Become a CBJ member and read the

(Un)Hired Help series in its entirety by

visiting our digital edition.

Visit corridorbusiness.com/membership


Takeaways and

solutions from the

CBJ’s exclusive

workforce series

By Dave DeWitte and

Katharine Carlon



Connecting the

threads from a

year of workforce


All this year, the CBJ has been exploring

the causes and effects of the Corridor’s

worker shortage, as well as the wants

and needs of workers and the challenges

of adapting to a business environment

where tech, regulations and tradewinds

can change at a moment’s notice.

To say our challenge was daunting is

an understatement. Over the course of

our (un)Hired Help series, we’ve looked

at the historical reasons for Iowa’s acute

undersupply of skilled labor – a situation

at least one Corridor economic official

called “stifling” to future growth –

and what the state is doing to address it.

We talked to many employers about the

types of workers they’re seeking,

and to workers about what

both draws them and keeps

them on the job. We looked at

the shifting nature of jobs and

how employees and employers

are responding. And we investigated

why diversity is an essential

piece of the solution.

One of our top takeaways was that

although Iowa’s population growth is

slower than most states, it is far from

the worst contributor to the state’s talent

shortage. Rather, it centers around a

skills mismatch reflecting the failure of

the state’s employers and educational

system to prepare workers for the kind

of jobs that exist in a new economy

that’s more online, more digital and

more automated.

“Fifty-one thousand of the 127,000

Iowans we need to get upskilled are

adults with no post-secondary education,”

said Iowa Workforce Development

Director Beth Townsend. “They’re

not living at the poverty level – they’ve

been working. Convincing them that

now is the time to take that step and get

some education is not an easy thing to

do, and we recognize it.”

At the same time, employers and employees

alike are dealing with disruptions

to traditional full-time employment.

The shadow of the Great Recession

has loomed large over the past decade,

leading to the rise of job-hopping and

alternative work arrangements, along

with an increase in short-term contract

and temporary workers. Automation is

both eliminating traditional low-skilled

jobs and creating higher-skilled ones

daily, underlining the need for constant,

ongoing retraining if we are to build the

workforce of tomorrow.

That will require an all-hands on

deck approach in which government,

educational institutions and employers

come together and grapple with solutions.

There is no silver bullet to the region’s

workforce woes, and all partners

will have to shoulder their share of the


“The days of an employee doing the

same job for the same way for years is

over,” said Kate Pine, business marketing

specialist for IowaWORKS.

The following represents an encapsulation

of our reporting from the first

five parts of our (un)Hired

Help series, along with 16

takeaways and solutions that

you can use to begin building

a stronger, more productive

workforce at your company.

Our reporting is by no

means definitive or exhaustive,

and we wish we’d had

even more time to investigate factors

like transportation and housing that impede

workers from living near existing

jobs, or the impact of the relative lack

of cultural and recreational amenities in

drawing workers to the state.

We will continue to investigate causes

and solutions to our region’s labor

issues in the weeks and months to

come, and invite you to join the conversation

with insights of your own.

What can our region do better to meet

the #workforce challenge? Weigh in on

Facebook and Twitter at @CBJournal. >



In this six-part, members-first series beginning today, the CBJ is exploring

the causes and symptoms of Iowa’s worker shortage, and whether

it’s likely to be a long-term, systemic issue or a transient one that will

disappear during the next recession. Future installments will address the

specific needs and wants of employers and workers, the changing nature

of work, why diversity is such a big piece of the puzzle and the most

promising solutions being pursued by the private and public sectors. >>>







The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic

Alliance’s annual meeting looked to the

challenges of the new year while also taking

time to celebrate a major anniversary.

The Feb. 11 edition will focus on Starting (and

Surviving) in Business.

And don’t miss the Cedar Rapids Metro

Economic Alliance’s February/March report.


Entrepreneur and CBJ contributor Nate

Kaeding sits down with Prairie Lights coowner

Jan Weissmiller to talk books and

battling an e-commerce giant.


Cecilia Rokusek, the new president and

CEO at the National Czech & Slovak

Museum & Library, introduces herself.


Test your comprehension with the

CBJ News Quiz, compiled from stories

appearing over the last month. How

well have you been following the news?


PART I: Digging into Iowa’s workforce skills gap

From Feb. 4

What we wrote:

In the first part of

this members-only

series, the CBJ

sought to outline the

current state of Iowa’s

workforce gap from

multiple perspectives,

including companies,

governments and

workers, setting

the stage for more

targeted stories in the

year ahead.

Digging into Iowa’s


Corridor Business Journal

2345 Landon Road, Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317

Past, present, future

Real Success



Next Week

“Without anything resembling

a boom, Iowa has ridden a long

stretch of economic growth straight

into the tightest labor supply in 18

years, and one of the tightest job

markets in the country.

One of the largest issues is

not just low unemployment, but

a misalignment between the

changing skill needs of employers

and the patterns of educational

attainment in the state, and it’s

something Iowa Workforce Development

Director Beth Townsend

doesn’t see changing even if the

next economic downturn reduces

pressure to find workers. Nearly

42 percent of Iowans lack post-secondary

degrees or certifications.

“Almost three quarters of our

jobs by 2025 will require some

kind of postsecondary education,”

Ms. Townsend said. “Even though

there are fewer jobs when there is

a recession, it doesn’t mean those

jobs will be low-skilled.”

Employers like Brittany Hannah,

owner of Bistro 319 in Marion,

say job applicants frequently

don’t even bother to show up for

interviews, and Valon Tika of

Chicago, who was staffing up a

new restaurant in Cedar Rapids,

compared the difficult hiring process

to “looking for little bits of

gold in the dirt.”


Upskilling is a must

State leaders under Gov. Kim Reynolds

have united around the skills gap

issue, funding the Future Ready Iowa

Act, which sets a goal of “upskilling”

workers so that 70 percent of Iowa’s

workforce has postsecondary degrees,

apprenticeships or certificates. The initiative

also includes a scholarship and

grant program for Iowans seeking postsecondary

training and education in approved

programs at Iowa’s colleges and


One way employers and educational

institutions can help is by keeping their

focus on those high-demand occupations

that will generate the most new

hires, and qualify for Last-Dollar Scholarships

under Future Ready Iowa. In the

Kirkwood Community College district,

those include automotive service technicians

and mechanics, dental laboratory

technicians, medical assistants, veterinary

techs, bus and truck mechanics

and diesel engine specialists.

Another way to help is by referring

students and job seekers to the registered

apprenticeship programs available

through Iowa Workforce Development’s

Earn & Learn program.

Engage early

Iowa employers are trying to engage students

earlier, before they consider leaving

the state. The Iowa Business Council,

which represents the state’s largest

employers, for example, has committed

to hiring 30,000 interns, externs and

apprentices by 2025 in a bid to teach

young Iowans about careers here.

Businesses and educators can find

more about partnership opportunities

and volunteer opportunities to help

engage high school students through

the Workplace Learning Connection at

Kirkwood Community College, or the

Marion Economic Development Corp.’s

Community Promise program (for those

located in the city).

Consider overlooked


ICR Iowa, the region’s joint venture, is

working with employers like Nordstrom

in Cedar Rapids who want to access untapped

talent pools. Nordstrom created

a program to help immigrant workers

who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for

jobs at its fulfillment center to upgrade

their English-language and work skills

with help from Kirkwood and the Intercultural

Center of Iowa.

Frontier Co-op, meanwhile, sponsors

an apprenticeship program that

offers full-time jobs for former inmates

on a trial basis in partnership with the

Returning Citizens Program, Willis

Dady Homeless Services and Catherine

McAuley Center. The Iowa Department

of Corrections’ Returning Citizens Program

provides individuals with job skills

and training to prepare them to return to

their communities.

Employers in Iowa may qualify for

a $2,400 Work Opportunity Tax Credit

for hiring ex-offenders, as well as the

Federal Bonding Program, which can

help cover a financial loss resulting from

an ex-offender in their first six months

after their employment, along with other




NCSML offers quality, meaningful

internships with college students

A good internship experience “can have an immense impact and even be

life changing” for a college student, said Lindsay Erhardt-Hansen, director

of Visitor & Volunteer Services for the National Czech & Slovak Museum

& Library in Cedar Rapids. A veteran of six internships while pursuing her

certification and Masters degree in museum studies, she finds it “truly a

joy” to coordinate NCSML’s

internship program.

In the last five years, NCSML

has “gone from an internship

Best Internship Program

program that was very much

Small Company

ad-hoc with one or two unpaid

interns per year, to one where

we offer quality, meaningful


experiences for students and CZECH & SLOVAK

build on our relationships with

local colleges and universities


offering internships across many


disciplines,” Ms. Erhardt-Hansen

wrote in her letter nominating her

museum for Internship Award.

Since 2014, NCSML has had

more than 40 interns, most of them paid. In just the last three years, 18

interns have worked on a wide range of projects including programs, gardening,

events, fundraising, education, interpretation, art, tour organizing,

marketing, and graphic design.

“Students need hands-on, practical experiences and our internships

offer exactly that,” noted Ms. Erhardt-Hansen.

The museum collaborates with many of the state’s public universities and

private colleges. These include UI, ISU, UNI and Mount Mercy University,

along with Coe, Cornell, Grinnell, Luther and Kirkwood Community colleges.

This year NCSML also welcomed an intern from Seattle Pacific University.

Three key principles of the internship program include providing the

student a balance of instructional learning with autonomy and self-responsibility,

making sure interns gain insight into how museums function and

paying them for their work.

“Nonprofits, especially museums, struggle with this, but we hope by

committing to paid internships, we are setting a standard that values the

work of our students and acknowledges the importance of these partnerships,”

Ms. Erhardt-Hansen said.

During Intern Appreciation Week each summer, students shadow staff

in departments outside their internship scope. “We have learned that this

really helps them broaden their understanding of what we do and offers insight

into other departments that may help shape their ideal career path,”

she said.

Ms. Erhardt-Hansen has enjoyed watching former interns go on to do

“some amazing things,” including becoming permanent staff. K-12 Education

Specialist Sarah Henderson, who interned as a senior, recalls that her

summer insights informed her Master’s degree studies. In her two years as a

full-time staff member, “I’ve enjoyed fostering that same passion in museums

with the interns that now report to me each summer,” she said. •

Why is having a successful

internship program important?

Having a successful internship program

is important for many reasons. One is

that as a museum/organization of 45

years, we have a lot to offer the next

generation of museum professionals.

We can provide hands-on, practical

experiences that they can’t get

otherwise, and these experiences help

shape their careers. We also benefit

a great deal by learning from our

interns – they bring new, innovative and

fresh ideas. Lastly, having a successful

internship program is a way for the

NCSML to form strong relationships in

our community and beyond.

What would you recommend to an

organization looking to implement a

better internship program?

I would recommend that they do

their research and look to other peer

organizations for inspiration. Talk with

others in the field and find out what

works for them. Also, listen to students

to find out what they are looking

for. Can you offer the educational

experience they need? Finally, get

buy-in from the rest of your colleagues,

show them why interns add value to

the organization how they build strong

relationships in the community.


1400 Inspiration Place SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

(319) 362-8500


UICA program encourages students to

explore nonprofit sector

The University of Iowa Center for Advancement’s internship program,

established in 2013 to increase the supply of candidates for difficult-to-fill

fundraising positions, was rebuilt from the ground up.

As the UI’s main fundraising entity pondered the question of “what

are we trying to accomplish?” with the internship program, it was apparent

the talent pipeline

was still a major need,

but other objectives

were identified too, such

Best Internship Program

as promoting lifelong

Large Company

engagement with UI and

encouraging students

to explore career or


volunteer roles within IOWA CENTER FOR

the nonprofit sector, said

Becky Rafferty, UICA’s


vice president for talent

management. Internship

2.0, winner of the

Internship – Large Organizations Award, tackled head-on the uneven

results yielded by the existing centrally administered program in which

interns reported varying levels of satisfaction with their experiences and

fewer than expected pursued a career at UICA.

Rather than hiring interns as a group and assigning them to staff

members for the summer as a job shadow experience, the call for

interns now goes out to staff in November, then interested departments

and teams submit proposals and compete for 12-15 budgeted internships.

The proposals require a summary of key responsibilities, projects

and deliverables, qualifications and learning opportunities, all with a

focus on relationships to individual, unit and UICA goals. Once proposals

are selected and approved, openings for individual positions are

posted and supervisors select their own interns.

For the summer of 2019, the staff conducted nearly 40 onsite

interviews to select 13 interns from more than 100 applications. The

internships involved 11-week substantive assignments running May 28-

Aug. 9, beginning with a week of intensive onboarding for orientation

about the organization and how its different departments work and

collaborate. Over the 11 weeks, eight two-hour sessions were offered as

an education component, with interns required to attend at least four.

Topics included leveraging LinkedIn, career Q&A with senior development

leaders, and a nonprofit governance conversation with senior

UICA leadership.

Other new layers included ICR internship events, the Ignite ICR progressive

dinner and kick-off/send-off parties for UICA internal events.

Presentations by each intern on key projects and takeaways culminated

the experience.

In the six years since inception of Internship 2.0, UICA has hosted

54 interns and hired 10 of those as regular, full-time staff members.

“We are proud to share that six of those 10 have been hired in the

past year and 70 percent have pursued careers either in nonprofit and

higher education organizations,” Ms. Rafferty said •

Why is having a successful internship

program important?

For the UICA, a key program objective is

encouraging students to explore careers

and volunteer roles in nonprofits. We

believe nonprofit work is a privilege and we

are rewarded each day by the impact the

University of Iowa has on local, regional,

national and international communities.

Throughout the internship, we expose

students to the inner workings of a

successful nonprofit. The internship program

also provides excellent informal leadership

opportunities for UICA staff as they consider

how an intern might help them accomplish

team goals, advise the intern on how to

break down projects into manageable steps,

motivate an intern when things don’t go as

planned, and celebrate success.

What would you recommend to an

organization looking to implement a

better internship program?

Start by determining the purpose and

objectives of the program by asking, “What

are we trying to accomplish?” When you have

a clear purpose defined, it becomes easier

to design the program as you can evaluate

an activity by whether it accomplishes that

purpose. You will be able to easily identify

current elements that aren’t worth the time

and create new material that drives the

program forward. When asking for feedback

from interns, write questions that align

directly to the purpose to effortlessly identify

if the program is meeting its objectives.


1 W. Park Road

Iowa City, IA 52242

(319) 335-3305


Van Meter’s series of brochures highlights

the company’s unique culture

Finding “the right people who understand, model, and fit our culture” is

crucial to ongoing success for Cedar Rapids-based Van Meter, an electrical

components distributor with 490 employee-owners. Honors in the

Marketing & Recruitment Campaign category go to Van Meter for its series

of brochures, developed by the People Operations and Marketing teams,

to explain what it means

to be an employee-owner

and what the company’s

unique culture offers.

“We made the decision

Best Marketing &

as a company to put our

Recruitment Campaign

people on our marketing

materials to truly convey VAN METER INC.

how important our people

are to us,” wrote Van

Meter’s Health, Safety and

Wellness Coordinator Ben

Woods in his nomination letter for the award.

The first in the series of brochures is the five-fold “Own Up” card,

featuring six photos with testimonials from employee-owners explaining

that they own their own success, future, development, well-being

and work-life balance at Van Meter. The card is handed to prospects

during initial, informal conversations. “Some companies offer you free

coffee as a benefit. We offer you ownership and so much more,” reads

the opening panels.

Other panels on the card’s front detail Van Meter’s product lines and

its reach into all 50 states and seven countries, while driving home the

“Own Up” message. “If you’re ready for more than a job, you’re ready

to own your own future by joining our team,” it reads, closing with the

action line, “Apply today at vanmeterownup.com.”

Candidates who progress in the interview process and move closer to

being hired are given other brochures that dive deeper into the specific

benefits and cultural items that Van Meter offers.

“I own my future” talks about traditional retirement plans and ESOP.

“I own my development” discusses training. “I own my well-being” covers

such topics as comprehensive health, wellness and safety programs,

parental leave benefits and financial management seminars. “I own my

giving back” explains that every year all employee-owners receive eight

hours of paid volunteer time, allowing them to positively impact their

community in a way they feel appropriate.

Each brochure includes a personal testimonial from an employee-owner

and is loaded with detail to sell its concept. The future

brochure, for example, includes colorful graphs showing how the high

levels of employee engagement at Van Meter correlate with a steeply

rising trend in stock value. The development brochure lists the multiple

training opportunities at the company and explains its unique, yearlong

onboarding program.

Colorful, concise and consistent, the campaign emblazons the “Own

Up” script logo in several spots on each brochure, giving potential owner-employees

every reason to buy into the company’s mantra, “Everyone

at Van Meter is All-In.” •

How has your marketing and

recruitment campaign helped in a tight

labor market?

All Van Meter employee-owners are asked

to be active recruiters for the company.

The campaign provides them the tools and

information they need to be successful

in this endeavor. Collectively, we work to

identify people who would be a good fit for

our company and then engage our People

Operations team to connect with candidates

by phone, over coffee, etc. Our campaign

keeps our company top of mind with people

and presents Van Meter in a positive way,

hopefully capturing the attention and

interest of both active and passive job


What would you recommend to an

organization looking to implement

a better marketing and recruitment


Focus less on the traditional details of

benefits, pay, hours, etc. and more on the

experience and feeling people can expect

as an employee for your company. People

spend a significant amount of time at their

place of work and want to feel confident

that it will be an experience where they

can achieve balance in their personal and

professional lives, grow as an individual,

have a voice, impact change, learn new

skills, be part of a team, work toward a

common vision and purpose, give back to

the community and more.


850 32nd Ave. SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

(319) 366-5301


Holmes Murphy’s talent development

program targets Iowa students

The Brainery, an eight-week talent development program designed

to provide new hires the knowledge, connections and opportunity

needed to launch their insurance industry careers, is making a

difference for Waukee-based Holmes Murphy, winner of the 2019

Award for “Best Hiring Strategies of Iowa Graduates.”

Holmes Murphy operates from 14 locations in 10 states, but puts

a great deal of emphasis

on hiring from Iowa

institutions. The company

recruits on-campus

and via job boards at

the University of Iowa,

Iowa State University,

Drake University and

Grandview University.

Over the past two years,

the company has hired

and retained 19 Iowa

Best Hiring Strategies

of Iowa Graduates


graduates into the Brainery program, representing the four schools

named above, plus Wartburg College, Central College and the University

of Northern Iowa.

“Holmes Murphy has done a lot over the past several years to

cultivate a program where college graduates can thrive,” said Senior

Vice President and Cedar Rapids Market Leader Kari Cooling.

As the company’s website explains it, “Our philosophy is to hire

top talent, then teach them what they need to know about the insurance

industry and our client base. So, instead of starting the job

at a desk – we start in the classroom!”

Participants learn technical insurance knowledge, prepare for obtaining

an insurance license and refine their professional communication

and presentation skills. In addition to personally meeting

industry thought leaders and getting to tap into their expertise, the

class learns and grows together, forming relationships that may last

for class members’ entire careers.

Armed with knowledge and connections, Brainery participants

find plenty of opportunity for growth during the class and beyond.

Upon graduation from the Brainery, participants transition into

either a client service or sales role, ready to make a difference for

customers and add value to their teams. They are especially encouraged

to become innovative problem-solvers in the brokerage space.

“We’re truly proud of the work we’ve done to light the way for

young and upcoming talent,” wrote Ms. Cooling in her letter nominating

Holmes Murphy for the award.

One of the largest employee-owned-and-controlled brokers in

the country, Holmes Murphy is counting on the Brainery to help

reinforce the company slogan, “There’s no place like Holmes.” •

Why is hiring Iowa graduates

important to Holmes Murphy?

We believe hiring Iowa graduates

is critical to our growth and

perpetuation strategies. Half of our

workforce lives in Iowa. Our college

graduates with Iowa roots and Iowa

work ethic is incredibly important.

What would you recommend to an

organization looking to hire more

Iowa graduates?

Get active in recruiting at our

colleges and universities. Have an

internship program. Connect and



201 First St. SE, Ste. 700

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

(800) 300-0325



We pride ourselves on selling “thinking,” not insurance. In a nutshell, our talented team of

superheroes sell the cumulative knowledge and experience that make insurance and businesses

work better. As an independent brokerage, we serve business and industry leaders across the

nation in the areas of property casualty insurance, employee benefits, captive insurance, risk

management, and loss control. And we’re pretty darn proud of the talented individuals on our

team who look out for our clients each and every day!

We’re here to protect you — the awesome cape is just a bonus.


CRCSD’s Tara Troester helps bridge gap

between education and industry

From leading the creation of career website portals, to organizing an ICR Future Ready Career

Fair that attracted more than 100 area high school seniors to bringing her enthusiasm

for K12 educational opportunities to the multiple industry sector boards, Tara Troester

wins accolades all around for helping bridge the gap between education and industry.

“In title, Tara is CTE (Career Technical Education) Lead Curriculum Facilitator for the

Cedar Rapids Community School District but in reality, she is so much more!” wrote

Advanced Manufacturing Board Facilitator Barb Rawson, one of several persons who

nominated Ms. Troester for the Excellence in Employer & Education Workforce Collaboration

Award. Ms. Rawson called Ms.

Troester “instrumental” in helping

the Advanced Manufacturing Sector

Board Portal Committee define

what educators were looking for

and students needed as they set up a

career exploration web portal. She is

“extraordinarily talented at connecting

with the students and providing

them educational opportunities

with real world work relevance,” Ms.

Rawson added.

Ms. Troester expanded the March

career fair, held for the second year

Excellence in Employer & Education

Workforce Collaboration




in partnership with sector boards, ICR Iowa and school districts in the region, to pull in

students from smaller area communities including Belle Plaine, Center Point, Monticello,

Urbana and Springville, along with those from bigger high schools in Cedar Rapids,

Marion and Iowa City. A record number of students and businesses participated, with at

least one employer, Whirlpool, reporting 20 hires as a result of the event.

Build My Future, a hands-on event to help students learn about opportunities in

ACE, gave 150 youth a taste of GAPS surveying, shingling, hanging and mudding drywall,

pipefitting, masonry work and more.

“Tara helped the industry professionals understand the challenges schools face

in selecting which events to attend, reasonable timeframes and expectations, budget

concerns and offered insights in how industry activities can engage students,” wrote

another nominator.

“Tara brings amazing insights, enthusiasm and a get-it-done attitude to our volunteer

board which is greatly needed to keep all parties engaged and continuing to work

on workforce needs long term,” wrote Kirkwood Program Developer and ACE Sector

Board Facilitator Kylie Gudenkauf.

Her colleague, Kirkwood’s Senior Director of Corporate Training Amy Lasack agrees.

“Without Tara and Cedar Rapids Community School District at the table with our

region’s employers, our region would not be able to continue moving forward with

innovative opportunities for our youth, our next workforce,” she said. •

Why is it important to

collaborate with local

education entities?

The Cedar Rapids Community

School District is a wonderful

example of working hand in

hand with local employers.

As students are making

decisions about their next

steps, having a K-12 institution

ready for discussion is

key for our companies to

connect with potential

future workforce. These

discussions have allowed for

innovative programming and

opportunities for students

that might not have happened

without this collaboration.

What advice would you

give an organization

looking to partner with

local education entities?

Employers and education

need each other. In order to

provide employees that are

skills-ready and interested to

work at our local employers,

education needs the employer

partnership and input.

Employers and education

entities should develop

strong relationships through

participation in groups such

as industry sector boards.


2500 Edgewood Road NW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52405

(319) 558-2000


Clickstop’s training programs gives employees

opportunities to learn and thrive

Clickstop’s self-driven learning culture is key to the Urbana-based

online retailer’s success in training for existing employee needs, said Director

of Communications Jeremy Meyer. The company uses onboarding,

mentorship and talent development programs; leadership and

executive development workshops; and new leader integration and peer

discussion sessions to ignite employees’ desire to learn and personal

conviction to transform to the

best version of themselves.

“We strive to provide creative

autonomy and flexibility Best Training for Existing

in responsibilities to allow

Employment Needs

employees the opportunity

to learn through new and

challenging experiences,” Mr.


Meyer said. To make learning

accessible, Clickstop hosts

on-site workshops, provides

access to e-learning programs and reimburses employees for outside

training and certifications. Nearly 20 percent of Clickstop’s 145-strong

workforce participates in its mentoring program, designed to increase

employees’ awareness and reflections on their learning.

Since 2018, Clickstoppers have invested 420 employee hours participating

in talks by experts on business and leadership topics, peer

group discussion and one-on-one coaching and collaboration and

leadership building through Leading Edge and Vistage workshops. Employees

don’t need to hold formal management roles to participate in

leadership sessions, which have also been opened up to other companies

in the Corridor to give Clickstoppers the opportunity to gain new

perspectives and ideas from other businesses.

Debuting this year, the six-month New Leader Integration program

gave six participants deeper understanding in such areas as leveraging

strengths of team members, leading with the Clickstop Code, having

effective employee Impact conversations and developing an employee

engagement strategy.

Eight upcoming leaders joined in peer group discussions, allowing

them to cultivate relationships, learn from each other and

gain greater awareness of the ripple effects of decisions and company-wide


Each quarter, the Clickstop leadership team nominates top performers

and high-potential employees for support by the Talent

Enrichment Team in identifying their goals, strengths and areas where

they’d like to focus their development. Eighteen employees have participated

this year.

Getting new employees off on the right foot is key, so before new

hires are trained on their job functions, they spend a week learning

about the company’s mission, values, teams, goals and top business

initiatives from other Clickstoppers. The Clickstart program has onboarded

40 employees since 2018 and has proved its worth.

The “time to impact once the employees get into their roles” is

reduced because “they know why we do what we do and where to find

what they need to be successful,” said Mr. Meyer. •

Why is training and developing employees

important to Clickstop?

Rather than looking at change as a threat, we

see it as a part of our competitive advantage.

“The minute we ignore the need for change

is the minute we stop growing and things

start heading the wrong direction,” CEO Tim

Guenther said. “The longer we wait to adapt to

change, the more the damages will be.”

At Clickstop, a big part of how people

learn is through the changing, challenging

environment where people are given a lot of

autonomy to experiment and try new things: to

put themselves in challenging situations that

require them to stretch their capabilities every

day. This type of environment allows a variety of

strengths to be identified and sharpened.

What would you recommend to an

organization looking to implement an

employee training program?

Start with providing clear expectations of

the employee’s role. Help her understand

why the role is important to the success of

the organization. What are the initiatives of

the company? What is the company seeking

to accomplish? How is her work tied to the

initiatives? This creates purpose. Purpose

fuels growth.

When purpose is present, you will find that

employees are more heavily invested in the

success of the business, assuming the employee

aligns with the values of the organization.

This investment leads to greater creativity

in one’s approach to their work and creates

opportunities to grow for both employee and

employer. Employees aren’t necessarily looking

to skip jobs every few years, but they are looking

for new opportunities.


202 Blue Creek Drive, Urbana, IA 52345

(800) 383-0592


Training program keeps IDx employees

current in highly specialized field

“IDx is a great example of a local company doing new and innovative

things right here in our region. Their training needs are highly

specialized and a program like 260E provides them with the

ability to meet those needs,” said Tyler McCarville, who manages

the New Jobs Training partnership for Kirkwood Community College.

Under the partnership, companies receive training funds via


bonds, which the

companies repay by

redirecting a portion

of payroll taxes

New Jobs Training 260E Award

for the employees


In the case of


IDx, which develops

AI systems that

detect disease in medical images, the candidates for training are

“highly educated, some with Ph.Ds,” explained Glynda Lamb,



Director of Administration & HR. “The funds are used to send our

new employees to advanced training. We work closely with a lot of

companies that offer training on the use of their coding software.”

Fourteen IDx employees, mostly software and R&D engineers,

have been trained through the program since IDx was founded in

2011. Trainees share what they have learned with other employees,

so the 260E program “truly benefits the entire department,”

Ms. Lamb said.

IDx received its first award of training funds in 2012 and reapplies

each year.

“They’ve been a tremendous help. We couldn’t do it without

them,” Ms. Lamb said of Kirkwood’s facilitation of the program

through its Corporate Training division.

“Iowa is very fortunate to have the New Jobs Training Program,”

said Mr. McCarville. “Studies show that employees who

receive ongoing training tend to be happier in their workplace,

productivity increases, and there is less turnover. Employers benefit

by offsetting the cost of training and the state benefits by incentivizing

good companies to continue growing in Iowa. It’s really

a win-win for all parties. In a time when workforce is our biggest

challenge, 260E is a great way of combating that issue.”

IDx’s first product is an FDA-cleared AI-based diagnostic system

designed for use at the front lines of care to detect diabetic retinopathy,

a complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness.

“There are also other AI systems in the pipeline,” said Ms.

Lamb. “I think we’re always going to utilize the training as long as

funds are available.”

Kirkwood has more than 200 active 260E agreements in its

seven-county region. Those agreements captured over 7,000 new

jobs in a 10-year period, Mr. McCarville said.

Why is the New Jobs Training program

important to your business?

A key part of our company’s growth is the

recruitment and development of staff.

When our company started up in 2011,

we looked for assistance from the area

business commerce groups and the state

of Iowa to help grow the business. The

funds we received from the New Jobs

Training program made training our new

employees much more affordable. While

our employees brought a wide range

of skills, knowledge and experience to

IDx, they also needed more specialized

training in software development, artificial

intelligence, medical device regulations

and FDA compliance. We were able to take

full advantage of training opportunities

that helped us meet these needs, thanks

to the funding from the New Jobs Training


What advice would you give an

organization that is looking to get

involved with 260E?

I would highly recommend any organization

to get involved with 260E, especially when

the organization is new and hiring for

newly created positions. For the past eight

years, IDx has created new roles in our

engineering department, marketing, legal,

administration and sales teams. Each new

position qualified for the training funds so

that we could further develop our new staff

members. The online portal allows for easy

access to award reimbursement.


2300 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville, IA 52241

(319) 248-5620


Tanager Place improves staff turnover

rate with leadership program

Tanager Place’s Leadership Academy, a career development

program, has played a major role in improving retention among

employees challenged with difficult, emotionally-draining jobs

within the social service agency’s Psychiatric Medical Institute

for Children (PMIC), a

treatment program for

youth dealing with the

most severe mental and

behavioral issues,

Winner of the Best

Retention Strategy

Award, Tanager faced

an intolerably high

staff turnover rate. In

Best Retention Strategy


the year before the academy was established, of an average PMIC

workforce of 111 employees, 88 resigned, five were terminated and

just 10 transferred within the organization. Recognizing the challenging

nature of entry-level positions in the PMIC unit, the agency

designed the academy to invest in employees’ personal growth,

promote internal career pathways, improve company culture and

deliver better care for clients.

In 2018, the first full year of the academy’s operation, the total

number of resignations in the third and fourth quarter dropped to

32, compared to 57 the year before.

“While there were likely additional factors contributing to

this significant improvement, Leadership Academy undoubtedly

had an impact in this growth. It has allowed these entry-level

employees to see advancement opportunities within the organization

and see that Tanager Place is invested in their professional

growth,” wrote CEO Okpara Rice in a letter outlining the results

of the initiative.

“Leadership Academy gave me the opportunity to stretch

myself in new ways that I never would have expected,” one participant

wrote. “Not only did my leadership skills grow, but I was

given the opportunity to challenge some long held beliefs, think

outside the box and grow both personally and professionally. But

what I value most ... is the connections I made with people from

across the agency and the friendships that were formed!”

From a participant survey, scores of 4.5/5 or higher were

received for all measured responses, which measured the effectiveness

of the program in broadening understanding of leadership

characteristics and behaviors, challenging participants to reflect

and assess their own leadership skills, instill confidence in being

able to serve as a positive and effective leader and overall satisfaction

with the experience.

“We have seen tremendous value in the program and are continuing

it for a second year,” concluded Mr. Rice. •

How does having a strong retention

strategy improve relationships with


Strong retention is crucial and means a great

deal to the young people and families that we

serve. It provides consistency in treatment

and allows for true relationship building

between provider and client. Building trust

and developing relationships with clients is

highly important when working with children

and families struggling with mental health

issues. Knowing that key staff will be there

during their toughest times makes families

breathe a little easier. When there is frequent

turnover, it makes it difficult to maintain

these trusting relationships.

What would you recommend to an

organization wanting to build a stronger

retention program?

Do an honest assessment of what your

strengths and challenges are as an

organization. It isn’t always easy or fun to

evaluate your weaknesses, but it is absolutely

necessary to do if you value retaining top

talent. Then, you should work to improve

culture and look for innovative ways to

engage employees and empower them in

your mission. Employees should feel like they

matter and can make a difference in helping

your organization or company be successful.


2309 C St. SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

(319) 365-9164



This is part two of a new six-part CBJ series on Iowa’s

workforce shortage, focusing on employers’ wants and

needs in hiring. Read the first installment at bit.ly/unhiredhelp. >

Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce

leaders promised a “year of reinvention” at

the chamber’s annual dinner held Feb. 28.

Recapping the CBJ’s

Commercial Real Estate



Todd Wishman,

Cedar Rapids Market

President of Bankers

Trust, talks about

moving to Cedar

Rapids from Des



Lil’ Drug Store Products created an open

workspace that removed barriers to


Pictures of the Iowa City Area Chamber

of Commerce Annual Banquet held at the

Coralville Marriott.





PART II: What do today’s employers want?

From March 11

What we wrote:


Corridor Business Journal

2345 Landon Road, Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317



Iowa companies

are in a desperate

hunt for employees,

but who exactly are

they looking for?

Exploring the three

building blocks of

today’s workforce:

skills, cultural fit

and diversity

Chamber dinner


Page 18


Next Week

Iowa companies are

in a desperate hunt for

employees, but who

exactly are they looking

for? The CBJ explored

the three building blocks

of today’s workforce:

skills, cultural fit and


“Growing the region’s labor force

is just part of the solution. To build

the workforce to meet their needs

today – and take them into the future

– employers are beginning to

look beyond simply ticking boxes

in terms of education and experience.

They’re focusing on the skills

that will be needed in a rapidly

shifting technological landscape –

one in which AI, robotics and automation

are expected to displace

millions of jobs worldwide over

the next five years – and honing

in on soft skills like creativity and

problem-solving that will be key to

navigating that change.

Employers today are putting

nearly as much emphasis on

whether new hires fit into their

existing company culture as on

skills and experience. And they’re

balancing that with more diverse

workplaces to drive innovation

and creative solutions.

“Employers will say, ‘We’ll take

anybody, a breathing body that

will show up,’ and then they’ll call

up and say, ‘This person didn’t

work out because they didn’t have

item T when they checked off A

through S,” said Kate Pine, business

marketing specialist for IowaWORKS,

stressing employers

will need to more proactively build

their workforces going forward.


Prioritize soft skills

With at least half of employees expected

to require significant re-skilling over the

next four years, it no longer makes sense

to generate a laundry list of skills and find

a candidate who ticks the boxes. Instead,

according to Kim Becicka, vice president

of Continuing Education & Training Services

at Kirkwood Community College,

employers should be prizing “soft skills”

like problem solving, critical thinking,

creativity and other traits that make

workers adaptable learners.

Lura McBride, president and CEO of

Cedar Rapids’ Van Meter, said her company

seeks out soft skills that suggest

aptitude to learn higher-level technical

skills, believing it’s easier to train on

those than fundamentals like “desire,

drive [and] strong collaboration.” ACT’s

approach includes identifying emerging

skill needs and putting together threeto

five-year plans to ensure the organization

has the capabilities it needs now

and down the road.

Screen for cultural fit

Nine in 10 managers said a candidate’s

fit with organizational culture was

equal to or more important than skills

or experience, according to a Robert

Half survey. That’s little wonder when

companies are increasingly focused on

building strong teams of complementary

skillsets and one bad apple can spoil

the bunch, creating turnover and lowering


Holmes Murphy, for instance, recruits

heavily from its Brainery hiring

initiative to attract young talent into

the insurance industry and test their

fit right after graduation. The company

has also incorporated behavioral

and predictive index surveys into its

interview process to identify, understand

and maximize workforce assets.

ACT uses cultural fit as the basis for up

to 50 percent of its hiring decisions,

and has begun a bonus program to

leverage its employees’ social media

networks to attract applicants who

share its core values.

Encourage differences

Part of building a strong team, Corridor

employers say, is ensuring businesses

are listening to a diverse group of voices

– a practice that drives innovation, outof-the-box

thinking and better decision

making. A 2018 McKinsey research study

found companies in the top quartile for

diversity financially outperformed other

companies by up to 35 percent.

Thinking about diversity in terms of

the numbers of women and people of

color in leadership is “the low-hanging

fruit,” according to Anthony Arrington

of Cedar Rapids-based Top Rank Staffing,

adding that culture and mindset are

also important factors.

“A lot of our clients are utilizing

evaluations of personalities and skill

sets, like DiSC tests, True Colors and

Myers Briggs to truly identify somebody’s

work style to see if they’d be

a good fit for the team,” said Julie Albert,

branch manager of Robert Half in

Cedar Rapids. “Diverse working teams

have become the trend because, for instance,

if you had a full team that consisted

of all action-oriented individuals

and no one involved in the details,

you might not get the best, most efficient





May 1, 2019


In today’s war for talent, tech startups and corporate giants are redefining the

recruitment game with a host of unique benefits, perks and amenities – but that

doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t compete. In part three of this special

workforce series, the CBJ explores the changing motivations and preferences of

today’s workforce, and how Iowa companies can hold their own. >>>

UFG cuts the ribbon on an architectural

marvel in downtown Cedar Rapids that will

give it room to grow.

Join the Corridor Business Journal for

90 Ideas in 90 Minutes on May 1. Nine

Corridor leaders will share 10 of their most

successful programs and initiatives that

can be applied to any business. For more

information, visit corridorbusiness.com/



U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst visits the Corridor to

talk trade – and leaves with an earful over

the harmful impact of the president’s tariffs.


Mercy Iowa City and Kindred Healthcare

break ground on the state’s second

freestanding rehabilitation hospital.


Author Mark

Pilkington offers

up some thoughts

on fixing brick-andmortar

retail – but is

it too late?


PART III: What do today’s employees want?

The new rules of attraction:


Corridor Business Journal

2345 Landon Road, Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317

From April 29

Old meets new

Trade town hall

Rehab groundbreaking

Next Week


Book Club

In today’s war for talent, tech

companies and corporate giants

are redefining the recruitment

game with a host of unique

benefits, perks and amenities.

The CBJ explored the changing

motivations and preferences of

today’s workforce, and how Iowa

companies can hold their own.

What we wrote:

“Iowa’s traditional appeal to employees

has been somewhat subtle –

a low cost of living, short commutes,

good schools and safe streets. But

they may not be enough to retain

younger generations of employees

whose work priorities have changed.

When staffing company Robert

Half International surveyed more

than 1,500 workers and more than

600 HR managers on the gap between

what workers want and what

employers currently provide, they

found stark differences in areas that

affected work-life balance.

Americans took an average of

17.2 days of vacation in 2017, according

to a 2018 study by Project:

Time Off, far below other western

industrialized countries, and below

the 20.3 days taken in the United

States between 1978-2000.

Career counselor Morris Pounds

says the growing desire among high

schoolers for work-life balance shows

up early in their career discussions,

who say, “I really want to work, but

I also want time for myself.”


Work-life balance wins

In a 2018 Robert Half study, 55 percent of

workers sought telecommuting options,

but only 14 percent of employers provide

them. A flexible work schedule was desired

by 88 percent of workers, but provided

by only 62 percent of employers.

One example of what employers can

do is TOTAL, or Time Off to Appreciate

Life, which is enjoyed by employees of

the ESOP-owned electrical supply distributor

Van Meter. The program allows

employees to decide for themselves

when they need time off, how much

time they need and how to take the time

off without reducing customer service.

Great culture attracts + retains

“Robert Half studies on corporate culture

reveal that more than one-third of

workers would turn down a job if the

company culture wasn’t a good fit for

them,” said Julie Albert, manager of

Robert Half’s Cedar Rapids branch.

Where the rubber hits the road in

cultural fit is often in its effect on employee

engagement. If employees feel

like they’re making a difference in the

organization and are with others who

care passionately about their jobs, they

tend to be bigger contributors and loyal

employees. Companies that share their

employees’ commitment to addressing

major issues in their communities and

world, through things like fundraisers

and volunteer time, also earn loyalty

and engagement.

At Clickstop in Urbana, developing

a strong and engaging corporate

culture has been a priority. It ranges

from a philanthropic program called

Clickstop Cares, to a wellness program

directed by employees that promotes

nutrition, healthy lifestyles and competitive


Parents need more childcare

There’s an acute shortage of affordable

daycare in Iowa, according to the Iowa

Women’s Foundation. The group says

Iowa has lost 42 percent of its childcare

businesses over the past five years,

and has a shortfall of 361,677 childcare


“I think more companies need to contribute

to child care, or start their own

onsite child care like Collins Aerospace,”

said Lynell Henricksen, a job-seeker attending

a job fair in April. She said workfrom-home

options would also help

parents with young children take advantage

of opportunities.

Collins Aerospace is one of the relatively

small number of Corridor companies

offering on-site childcare. The

KidsPoint preschool program at the

nonprofit Waypoint in Cedar Rapids

has developed relationships that allow

area employers such as Transamerica

and UFG Insurance to offer discounted

preschool services for their employees.

Tap the experienced workforce

The CBJ spoke to older job seekers in

this installment, such as Lonnie Wood, a

57-year-old grandmother, and 58-yearold

Tom Geistkemper, both of whom

described looking for work but encountering

hesitance from employers. That

reluctance to hiring older workers can

be overcome in part by developing job

descriptions and skills testing that ensures

they are up to the task, says Kevan

Bakewell, vice president, Enterprise

Loss Control for Holmes Murphy.

“Not everyone’s the same or in the

same physical shape,” Mr. Bakewell said.

Holmes Murphy offers guidance to

clients on how to set up hiring practices

and employment processes that are

non-discriminatory, yet help ensure

that employees can perform physical

tasks without injury. The AARP Foundation

also matches eligible older job

seekers with jobs in nonprofits and

public agencies. The Senior Community

Service Employment Program, administered

by the U.S. Department of

Labor, can provide participants with

supportive services and skills training.


Pratt & Whitney

Sales: ~$21B

UTC, Pratt & Whitney

Sales: ~$18B

• Raytheon, Space and Airborne Systems

• Raytheon, Intelligence, Information &


• UTC, Mission Systems

• Raytheon, Forcepoint


The American

economy has roared

back to life since the

Great Recession more

than a decade ago, but

the crisis also left a permanent

shadow over the working

world, changing the types of

jobs available and the expectations

attached to them. In the latest

installment of the CBJ’s (un)Hired

Help series, we explore how the gig

economy, contract work and automation are

impacting the Corridor’s workforce, and what it

might mean for the future. PAGE 4 >>>

Collins Aerospace

Sales: ~$22B

UTC, Collins Aerospace

Integrated Defense &

Missile Systems

Sales: ~$16B

• Raytheon, Missile Systems

• Raytheon, Integrated Defense Systems

A proposed merger with Raytheon Co.

would create the second-largest aerospace

and defense company in the United States.

But will it survive the opposition?

A Cedar Rapids startup is using drone

technology to inspect wind turbines for

The June 24th edition will feature Building

Projects in the Corridor.

Plan to attend the CBJ Mid-Year Economic

Review on June 26. Register at



damage – a capability that has already

paid off for Kirkwood Community College.


We sit down with

U.S. Bank Regional

President Curt

Heideman to talk

about the economy,

tech and being an

employer of choice.


From Coralville to Fairfax, see who’s out

and about in the business community on

this week’s photo page.


PART IV: How has the workplace changed since the Recession?

Working on

Corridor Business Journal

2345 Landon Road, Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317

Intelligence, Space &

Airborne Systems 2

UTC’s mega-deal

Eye in the sky

Page 18

Coming up


From June 17

The American

economy has roared

back to life since the

Great Recession,

but the crisis also

changed the types of

jobs available and the

expectations attached

to them. The CBJ

explored how the gig

economy, contract

work and automation

are impacting the

Corridor’s workforce.


What we wrote:

“In the years since the Great Recession,

in which nearly one in

five Americans lost their jobs, the

stock market has roared back,

unemployment has bottomed out

and the good times are rolling.

For many on the ground though,

the broader recovery has been little

more than background noise.

To combat that, workers have

gotten creative: moonlighting after

hours to stretch their budgets,

and stringing together part-time,

freelance and short-term contract

“gigs” that offer freedom,

but few benefits.

On the employer side, filling

positions with contract and

temporary workers as a bulwark

against uncertainty has now become

a long-term trend, with the

majority of new jobs created in

the past decade falling into the

“alternative work” category.

For employers and workers,

new technologies are accelerating

workplace changes, killing some

jobs while creating new ones.

The shift is forcing employers to

face the reality they can’t just

hire their way into the future, but

must devote significant resources

to upskilling employees. Workers,

can no longer depend on learning

a specific skill, then moving along

an orderly and predictable path.”

Work is being disrupted

With more than a third of all Americans

working one or several jobs classified

as non-traditional, the concept

of career is changing. Though many

workers have turned to side hustles to

make ends meet, “People [are] working

for wages they cannot live on,” explained

Rick Moyle, executive director

of the Hawkeye Area Labor Council.

That means the idea of starting at

the bottom of the ladder and rising

through the ranks of an organization

are probably a thing of the past – particularly

for younger workers, whose

views on job security were shaped by

the Great Recession.

At the same time, alternative work

situations give employees flexibility,

independence, variety and the ability

to better control what they earn – all

perks of gig work employers should

be paying attention to and emulating

in the workplace.

“To attract and engage millennial

gig workers, top priorities may include

making sure they are offered

competitive compensation, programs

for learning and development, and

opportunities to prove their drive and

talents,” Deloitte & Touche wrote in

a 2018 study. “Rather than viewing

this workforce as a way to cut costs,

organizations can focus instead on

creating greater value by tapping the

strengths that set them apart.”

Use change to your advantage

Hiring short-term contract and freelance

workers has become a longterm

trend, representing 94 percent

of net job growth between 2005-

2015, according to a Princeton study.

Leveraging this workforce is critical

to business growth in an environment

of declining birthrates and a

shrinking labor pool, experts say.

Scalability is “absolutely” a driver

of the trend, as is the ability to leverage

cost-per-hire calculations in making

employment decisions, said Lori

Smith, engagement manager for Kelly

Services in Cedar Rapids, adding that

businesses also benefit from a ready fix

for seasonal and single project work.

“As workers, and work itself, demand

more flexibility to drive innovation

and work-life design, the

entire concept of work is becoming

more fluid,” said Amy Anger, vice

president and global lead for Kelly.

Get ready for the machines

The rapid rise of automation is poised

to change the world of work even further,

creating new jobs while eliminating

low-skilled positions. A recent

Brookings Institution study ranked

Iowa fourth nationally on a list of

states vulnerable to job roles being taken

over by technology, posing a challenge

to employers who will need to be

constant teachers in the years to come.

Long-term solutions, according to

McKinsey & Company, involve policy

makers working with education

providers and employers to more

heavily emphasize basic STEM skills

in school, as well as creativity, critical

and systems thinking, and adaptive,

life-long learning.” The McKinsey

report also recommends that policy

makers offer tax credits to encourage

companies to invest in learning and

capability building, and other initiatives

to transition employers to roles

in a more automated workplace.



Iowa’s workforce shortage has underscored the need to hire for diversity with a bright red

line. Yet, in a state with a population far less diverse than most, that isn’t an easy task. Where

do employers find talented minority candidates, and how do they get them to stay? In the

fifth installment of this special CBJ series, we explore the challenges of building a diverse

office and offer some tips for creating your own. >>>

Corridor Business Journal

2345 Corridor Landon Business Road, Journal Ste. 100

North 2345 Landon Liberty, IA Road, 52317 Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317

July 2019

Why Child Care Matters

to Iowa Businesses

The gaps in childcare impact

Iowa’s workforce and businesses’

bottom line and will continue to

do so until we take action. This

problem is only escalating. It needs

to be addressed soon for the longterm

health of families, businesses

and communities across our state.

But we cannot rely on a single

organization or a single solution to

fix it.

Collaboration is key.

To address the child care crisis,

development and a competitive

business environment—both

for the short and long term. The

collaborative efforts are based on

community-led change. Through

listening and learning, educating

and engaging, the collaboration

ultimately supports successful

families, a steady Iowa workforce

and a stronger economy.

The collaborative has already

brought people together from

the Iowa Women’s Foundation and all corners of the state to learn

partner organizations started the from each other and share their

Building Community Child Care success stories—saving time, money

Solutions Collaborative. Through our and energy so communities can

shared work, 29 communities across focus on real solutions. So far,

Iowa are now exploring innovative communities involved in the effort

ways to exchange ideas among include Ames, Cedar Rapids,

business and community leaders, Decorah, Dubuque, Fairfield,

employees and organizations to Fort Dodge, Grinnell, Iowa City,

promote child care investments that Muscatine,

support children’s healthy


Vol. XIII, Issue 7

Save These Dates

Columnist Christine

Hawes reflects on the

rise of intersectionality

in the workplace.


Executives at anti-virus provider PC Matic

are looking to Iowa as they work to break

into the enterprise market.

Representatives for

Iowa’s third largest

trading partner make

the case for even

closer ties.

Ahmann Companies is making plans

to redevelop a vacant Terex factory in



Cedar Rapids’ College District into a new

neighborhood draw.


See photos from the ribbon-cutting for

Great Western Bank’s new branch office,

a cornerstone ceremony at Cottage Grove

Place and more in this week’s photo page.

The Aug. 5 edition of the CBJ will focus on

Retail Revival.

Don’t miss the Iowa City Area Chamber of

Commerce’s monthly newsletter, Envision.


PART V: The Diverse Office

How we

talk about






From July 29

Iowa’s workforce shortage has underscored

the need to hire for diversity with

a bright red line – but in a state with a

less diverse population than most, that

isn’t an easy task. Where do Corridor

employers find talented minority candidates

and how do they get them to stay?

What we wrote:

BY: Dawn Oliver,

Executive Director,

Iowa Women’s


In many Iowa


childcare is either


inaccessible or

nonexistent. This means working

parents miss work, drop shifts, are

less engaged on the job, switch

employers, or even leave the

workforce altogether.

Nearly all Iowa businesses face

a workforce gap. According to

Iowa Workforce Development,

there were 65,877 open jobs across

Iowa in May of 2018. Today, there

are 38,672 Iowa jobs listed on

indeed.com. Because of our state’s

employee shortfall, there is an

estimated $675 million in unrealized

annual GDP. In the race to attract

and retain talent, Iowa businesses

have the opportunity to innovate

around female- and family-friendly

policies and benefits to gain a

competitive edge.

Iowa’s Workforce Shortage and

Child Care Crisis are Interrelated.

Three-quarters of Iowa families

with children under the age of six

have all available parents working

outside of the home, yet almost a

quarter of Iowans live in an area

undersupplied with licensed or

registered child care options. The

results paint a clear picture of how

workforce development is hindered

by a lack of child care: of these

families, 65% of parents are late

to work or leave early because of

child care issues. Employees miss

an average of nearly two weeks

of work per year due to the same


July 5 – First Friday Coffee Connections,

Canceled in observance of

Independence Day

July 11 – Ethan Allen Ribbon Cutting, 941

E. 2nd Ave, Ste. 101, Coralville, 4 p.m.

July 16 – Riverview Plaza Ribbon Cutting,

Riverview Plaza, 306 1st Ave, Coralville,

4 p.m.

July 18 - Workforce Solutions: Affordable

Child Care, Kirkwood Regional Center

at the University of Iowa, 2301 Oakdale

Blvd, Coralville, 9 a.m.

July 18 – Ignite ICR: Stoke the Flames

Send-Off Party, Big Grove Brewery &

Taproom, 1225 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City,

3 p.m.

July 25 – LINC, Tin Roost, 840 W. Penn St.,

North Liberty, 4:30 p.m.

August 2 – First Friday Coffee

Connections, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa

- Spcialty Care, 585 W. Cherry St., North

Liberty, 7:30 a.m.

Coralville Roundtable: 12 - 1 p.m.

• July 1 – Dunn Brothers Coffee, 3284

Crosspark Rd, Ste A

• July 8 – Iowa River Power

Restaurant, 501 1st Ave.

• July 15 – Radisson Hotel &

Conference Center, 1220 1st Ave.

• July 22 – Divots, 1900 Country Club


• July 29 – Wig & Pen Pizza Pub, 1220

Hwy 6 W

Iowa City Roundtable: 12 - 1 p.m.

• July 2 – Brother’s Bar & Grill, 125 S.

Dubuque St.

• July 16 – North Dodge Athletic Club,

2400 N. Dodge St. RSVP Requested.

North Liberty Roundtable: 12 - 1 p.m.

• July 17 – Sugapeach, 650 Pacha

Pkwy, Ste 1, North Liberty

New Teacher

Luncheon set for

August 14

Join the Chamber in welcoming

all new teachers to Johnson County

with a luncheon at Old Brick. This

lunch is free for all new teachers,

$20 for non-teacher Chamber


Thank you to event sponsors

GreenState Credit Union and Old

Brick, and to our 2019 Education

Initiative Sponsor, ACT.

PC Matic’s Iowa push

Page 18

“Cultivating a more diverse workforce is part of

the answer to a growing skills gap in the Corridor,

but it won’t be easy because of an in-state

population that is 90.7 percent white.

Companies in Iowa know that the people

buying their products and services are more

diverse than their workforce here, according to

ICR Iowa President Jennifer Daly, and so they

need more diversity to understand their needs,

preferences and ways of communicating. Many

employers have also concluded that more diverse

leadership and work teams yield better

decisions and results.

CUNA Mutual, located in the overwhelmingly

white community of Waverly, is doing

well on its diversity journey, but found it had to

stretch far beyond simple strategies like placing

newspaper advertisements.

“We had to be very intentional about going

to find that and stop waiting for it to find us,”

said Sharina Sallis, who leads the company’s

diversity and inclusion efforts. That meant

seeking out candidates “where they live” in

places like traditionally black colleges and universities,

churches, sororities and fraternities.



CR’s newest hub?

Next Week

It starts from the top down

“It has to start with decision-makers, with leadership,” Sharina Sallis

said. Part of that is understanding greater diversity takes “time, investment

and money,” according to Anthony Arrington, managing

partner with Top Rank Staffing. Although it’s important for leaders

to set the tone with policies and public statements, experts say it’s

equally important to follow through with action and to keep in touch

with changing laws, and evolving social views about diversity.

Build inclusion into the culture

Collins Aerospace and CUNA Mutual have both begun celebrating

LGBTQ Pride Month or Pride Week – just one example of how to

make a public statement about diversity and inclusion. Collins Aerospace

also organizes employee resource groups (ERGs), which help

provide a network of support and a sounding board for minority employee


The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) offers

pointers for a more inclusive workplace culture. They include educating

leadership, creating an inclusion council, celebrating employee

differences, listening to employees more deeply, holding more effective

meetings, developing goals and measuring progress.

Promote inclusion in the community

As the region’s economic development and workforce recruitment

agency, ICR Iowa has discovered employees who don’t feel at home

in the community are much less likely to stay, whether or not they

feel welcome at work. Through its Inclusive CR committee, the group

has published an online resource guide for African-American residents

to find networking opportunities and community-building

activities, including places to find personal care services tailored to

their needs. Additional online guides are planned for other minority

groups. Some employers also offer financial or volunteer support to

community organizations that help newcomers connect. CBJ

Read the (Un)Hired Help Series in its

entirety by visiting our digital edition.



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