With a total population of nearly 260,000, the Cedar Valley Region boasts a significant labor force with a majority employed in industries of manufacturing, education, health care and wholesale and retail trade. Iowa is a right-to-work state.

Laborshed Studies

A Laborshed Study was completed in 2021 by Iowa Workforce Development in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  The following reports show labor characteristics for the Cedar Valley Region.

Cedar Valley Regional Executive Summary
Regional Labor Characteristics - Financial Services
Regional Labor Characteristics - Advanced Manufacturing
Regional Labor Characteristics - Biotechnology
Regional Labor Characteristics - Warehouse & Distribution
Regional Labor Characteristics - Food Processing

K-12 Education

Iowa has long been recognized as a leader in education, boasting the highest High School graduation rate in the nation. The Cedar Valley Region offers strong public and private educational systems starting with early childhood education to master’s degree programs. Our region sees great value in not only educating our current workforce to improve economic impact in our area, but we also see the opportunity to nurture today’s students to be the workers of tomorrow.

Leader Valley is an effort to make the Cedar Valley a better place for students to excel and become well prepared for citizenship and their future careers. We feel this is achieved through high levels of community collaboration.  Through Leader Valley, strong partnerships among Cedar Valley businesses, school district administrators and school boards, parents, and the community are being built.

Leader in Me is a talent development initiative that provides the foundation to expand the reach of leadership to all students. Leader In Me is not a program, but rather an initiative that shifts the culture of a school.

Leader in Me has four principle focuses:

  • Developing essential soft skills in all students
  • Identifying and nurturing the gifts and talents of all students
  • Providing authentic learning and leadership opportunities for all students
  • Applying the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Higher Education

State Regent Universities

University of Northern Iowa

UNI is located within the Cedar Falls/Waterloo metro area and has a student enrollment of approximately 12,000. UNI is one of three regent universities in Iowa and consistently ranks high in Midwest top public comprehensive universities by U.S. News and World Report.

  • Enrollment: 11,981

Private Universities and Colleges

Wartburg College

Located in Waverly and founded in 1852, Wartburg College is a selective four-year liberal arts college of the Lutheran Church (ELCA), nationally recognized for community engagement. The college offers more than 50 academic majors and pre-professional and certificate programs leading to the bachelor's degree. The college has a student enrollment of approximately 1,500 students. U.S. News and World Report have included it as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation in their annual America’s Best Colleges issue. Wartburg is one of only 34 colleges profiled as a college of distinction in the central U.S. region.

  • Enrollment: 1,537

Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa is a private, four-year liberal arts college based in Fayette, Iowa with a satellite campus site in the middle of the Cedar Valley that serves approximately 550 students in its Waterloo center.

  • Enrollment: 540

Community/Technical Colleges

Hawkeye Community College

Hawkeye Community College has a main campus in the heart of the Cedar Valley Region and features seven other locations throughout the area. Currently serving more than 5,000 students. Hawkeye offers more than 76 one-year and two-year programs for credit classes, and 18 short-term programs. The institution also provides Business and Community Education classes, specialized training geared toward business and industry and classes for high school students during their junior and senior years to attain college credits early.

  • Enrollment: 5,300
Iowa Valley Community College

IVCCD is unique among Iowa's community college districts because it operates two separate community colleges under the umbrella of one district. IVCC operates Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, as well as a satellite campus known as Iowa Valley Grinnell. It also operates Iowa Valley Continuing Education, which offers hundreds of adult and continuing education programs, business and industry training, and many unique and specialized programs and services district wide.

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC)

Northeast Iowa Community College provides accessible, affordable, quality education and training to meet the needs of our communities in the northern part of the Cedar Valley Region. They offer 60 certificate/diploma programs and 26 short-term programs.

  • Enrollment: 6,846
North Iowa Community College (NIACC)

The mission of the North Iowa Area Community College is to enhance the quality of life for people of North Iowa through comprehensive educational opportunities, progressive partnerships, exemplary service, and responsive leadership.

  • Enrollment: 2,800
Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College identifies community needs; provides accessible, quality education and training; and promotes opportunities for lifelong learning. Their main campus is located in Cedar Rapids and they offer 132 certificate/diploma programs and 31 short-term programs.

  • Enrollment 19,902
Allen College

Allen College has a tradition of more than 78 years of excellence in healthcare education. Allen College students may enroll in the following degree programs: Associate of Science in Radiography, Bachelor of Health Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs. Allen College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Enrollment: 625

Workforce Programs & Initiatives

260 Workforce programs (IEDA programs)

Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training (260E) for New Employees

The Industrial New Jobs Training Program provides businesses, which are expanding their Iowa workforce, with new employee training. Administered by Iowa's 15 community colleges, the program is financed through bonds sold by the colleges. Depending on wages paid, the business then diverts 1.5 or 3 percent of the Iowa state withholding taxes generated by the new positions to the community college to retire the bonds. Because of this structure, the training is available at what is essentially no cost since the bonds are retired with dollars that otherwise would have been paid to the state as withholding taxes. In addition to increasing worker productivity and company profitability, businesses participating in the Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training Program may also be eligible for reimbursement up to 50 percent of the annual gross payroll costs expended for on-the-job training, as well as a corporate tax credit if Iowa employment is increased by at least 10 percent.

Iowa Jobs Training Program (260F) for Current Employees

The Iowa Jobs Training Program provides job training services to current employees of eligible businesses that are located in Iowa. Eligible businesses can work with their local Iowa community college, which will assess training needs, determine funds availability and provide training. For participating businesses, the advantages include valuable employee training at a reduced - or no - cost.

Community College Consortium (260F) for Two or More Businesses

The Community College Consortium program provides funding assistance for community college-sponsored employee training projects in which two or more businesses participate. The businesses must be located in the same community college district. Iowa's 15 community colleges work with eligible businesses to assess training needs, determine funds availability and provide training. For participating businesses, the advantages include valuable employee training at a reduced - or no - cost. Application for this program must be made through a local community college.

Accelerated Career Education (ACE) Program (260G)

The Accelerated Career Education (ACE) program is designed to provide businesses with an enhanced skilled workforce. This innovative program assists Iowa's community colleges to either establish or expand programs that train individuals in the occupations most needed by Iowa businesses.

The program consists of two different parts:

  • ACE dollars to fund the necessary infrastructure construction/rehabilitation needed to increase student capacity in the new or expanded classes.
  • Program job credits to help fund the additional program costs associated with establishing a new or expanding a current program.

To participate in ACE, businesses enter into an agreement with a community college to sponsor a portion or all of the positions created by the establishment or expansion of a current educational program. By sponsoring open positions in a program, a company agrees to consider the student for employment upon the completion of their respective training program. Businesses must assist with program design and provide a 20 percent match of the program costs, pro-rated by the percentage of positions sponsored.

Iowa Apprenticeship Program: FAQ-Sheet

Registered apprenticeships are a proven approach to preparing workers for in-demand jobs and meeting the needs of business for a highly skilled workforce that can innovate and adapt. The Iowa Apprenticeship Program is available to increase the number of registered apprentices in Iowa by providing training grants to eligible apprenticeship programs. The program is administered by IEDA in coordination with the United States Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Apprenticeship (OA).

Iowa Student Internship Program

The Iowa Student Internship Program provides grants to small and medium-sized companies in the advanced manufacturing, biosciences and information technology industries to help support internship programs with a goal of transitioning the interns to full-time employment in Iowa upon graduation.

The intern must participate in a substantive experience in one or more of the following areas: research and development, engineering, process management and production, product experimentation and analysis, product development, market research, business planning or administration.

STEM Internship Program

The STEM internship program assists in placing Iowa students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into internships that lead to permanent positions with Iowa employers. The intern must participate in a substantive experience in an area closely related to the student’s STEM field. The IEDA provides assistance on a reimbursement basis. For every two dollars of wages earned by the student, one dollar is paid by the business and is matched by one dollar from the IEDA.

Registered Apprenticeship Program

There are more than 1,000 occupations eligible for apprenticeship training grants, from accounting specialists to nurses. Registered Apprenticeship programs are a proven approach to preparing workers for in-demand jobs and meeting the needs of business for a highly skilled workforce that can innovate and adapt. Iowa is committed to supporting Registered Apprenticeship Programs and increasing the number of registered apprentices in Iowa by providing training grants through the Iowa Apprenticeship Act (15B) and the Iowa Registered Apprenticeship Development Fund (15C).

Live the Valley

Live the Valley is a talent attraction and retention initiative that celebrates and promotes the people, place and opportunities to that the Cedar Valley region can offer to someone considering relocation. This content is shared through social media (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn), an engaging website, as well as a magazine that is both in digital and print.

Since its launch, Cedar Valley content has been positioned in front of over a million people. With this large reach, it’s important that the content be engaging and easy to understand and enjoy. With unemployment so low, it’s important to target and be effective, but also generate interest from a wide variety of populations.

A new exciting feature, the Live the Valley cost of living calculator. The goal of this calculator is to make understanding cost of living easy, and share why it is important to consider when looking to relocate. On //, a user can easily compare the cost of living in the Cedar Valley to almost every metro area in the country; it is fun and user friendly!

Over 900 jobs have been promoted through Live the Valley and the response has been largely positive.

Learn more about Live the Valley.

Custom Business Training

Through Iowa’s community college network, courses can be designed and customized to meet your specific industry needs. Through the community colleges, consultants provide resources to assist in developing new training initiatives or to maintain and support current efforts. Actual training can be delivered at any of Hawkeye's locations, your company, online, or other convenient locations. Contract training courses are scheduled at a time that is convenient for you.

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