Welcome to Hiawatha!
The mission of HEDCO is not to set the world on fire. I don't think anyone has any idea of going overseas and seducing a large foreign company to Hiawatha. HEDCO's mission is to interact with our business community and promote a positive business image of the City; and they are doing just that.
Honkamp Krueger, Mobile Demand, Dancers EDGE, and the Crystal Group are four businesses that come to mind immediately that HEDCO had a direct involvement with helping relocate within Hiawatha. A couple of other businesses that HEDCO board members have been involved with are Enseva, GoDaddy and New York Life, I'm sure I missed someone. Businesses hearing something positive about the City from another business means much more than from a City official. HEDCO may be new but it is alive and well in Hiawatha.
What a great privilege to have this opportunity to spread some good news about Hiawatha, and to be able to do it in our own facility. I have had some people tell me that we don't talk enough about our successes, and that may be true, but I think we are very conservative and don't feel like blowing our horn. We will talk about our conservative side a little bit later.
But before continuing, we need to make some acknowledgements and I hope I don't miss someone.
First and foremost, I must thank the HEDCO board of directors. While we are talking about HEDCO, I must personally thank George Lake from MEDCO, who met with us many times and gave us pointers on what worked for Marion. Thanks George.
The Hiawatha City Council. If you live in or own a business in Hiawatha, you have a Council that is truly looking out for your best interest. There are no egos on this Council. I have had people ask me why some of our meetings are short. I tell them that their Council members come prepared for the meeting. There may be places where people like to hear themselves talk, but Hiawatha isn't one of them.
Today's theme is Strong today - Stronger tomorrow. Just four words. What does that mean to you? For the next few minutes, I will give you my thoughts on what I feel makes Hiawatha great and sustainable. Part of the story are the 100's of volunteers that donate their time and talents every day, part of the story are our beautiful residential neighborhoods and we also have a great transportation network. We also have residential and commercial developable ground and developers that are willing to take a risk on our City. But what sets us apart from other communities? I think its Hiawatha's conservative City Council reinvestment in City infrastructure.
The investment/reinvestment to our community has presented some great opportunities for us; that investment is TIF.
So what is TIF?
Tax Increment Financing or TIF is a financing tool used by Hiawatha to promote development in a particular area. It is a technique used by Hiawatha to finance public improvements such as streets, sewers, water, sidewalks and other infrastructure, as well as redevelopment of blighted areas, and private economic development within a defined area.
So what streets did we use TIF on?
North Center Point Road, Stamy Road and Loggerhead Road were the most recent. We used between 20 and 50% TIF on those projects.
How about a blighted area?
The best example I have is the purchase of the former Oakbrook Mobile Home Park. The Council used 50% TIF for that project. Many of us feel that was money well spent.
How did Hiawatha use TIF wisely for sanitary sewer and water projects?
In 2009 and 2010, Hiawatha had two voluntary annexations of approximately 500 acres. It is important to note that the City of Hiawatha does not annex land and not provide city services; so we had a big job ahead of us in providing this area with water and sanitary sewer infrastructure. The total bill was $3M and we used TIF for 100% of the water and 80% of the sewer costs. Today we affectionately call this area our Northwest Territory. We will come back to this shortly.
A quick example of a storm sewer project where TIF is being used is the Thiher Drive project. It has been a multiple year project that finished in Summer 2012 and the City used 50% TIF funding.
So I have explained how we have used TIF for streets, water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and blighted areas.
Now let's discuss economic development. TIF can also be used to rebate a portion of the incremental tax increase on a piece of commercial or industrial property back to the new owner to help offset moving and new building costs for a short period of time. We have been told by our financial advisor, that in seminars, they use Hiawatha as a poster child on how TIF should be used. TIF is not used for retail or residential use in Hiawatha but TIF has allowed us to retain local businesses and promote new industry.
Why is Hiawatha strong today?
Part of the reason 2011 was a strong business year in Hiawatha was because of the City's wise use of TIF. So let's start by discussing building permits because we issued seven new commercial building permits last year. Some will be home for a single business and some will have multiple tenants. So let's review them.
In May, we issued PAETEC (WindStream) a permit to build a new 40,000 square foot facility at 1450 North Center Point Road. This is a company that others wanted and our Council knew that PAETEC was ours to lose. They didn't let that happen. Today we have a beautiful new $5+M building with over 400 retained employees.
Also in May, we issued a permit to Cedar Run Pet Boarding, located at 2705 Stonegate Court. This is a full service pet boarding and day care with a 6,200 square foot building and 9,600 square foot of outdoor exercise area. In addition to the pet boarding, they offer pet grooming and training. They have the ability to board approximately 80 dogs and 12 cats.
In June, we issued a permit to Ahmann Design for a 20,000 square foot, two story building at 1625 Boyson Road. The entire upper floor is the new home for New York Life. The lower level is divided between NAS Surety Group and Health Source. This one new building is the new home for three new businesses in Hiawatha.
Also in June, with the help of HEDCO, we issued a permit to Honkamp Krueger at 1751 Boyson Road for their new 11,500 square foot single story facility. They had looked at other locations and had other options but picked Hiawatha for their new permanent location. We are very thankful for that decision. Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C., has been named one of the Top 100 CPA firms in the United States by Accounting Today and is honored to be the seventh fastest growing CPA firm in the nation and the fastest growing firm in the Midwest.
While we are talking about fast growing companies, we must take a moment to recognize five additional Hiawatha firms named as the 2011 25 fastest growing firms in the Midwest as tabulated by the Corridor Business Journal and ranked by percentage revenue increase 2009 - 2011.
- 1. Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc., 2000 Progress Drive - 516.1%
- 2. Mobile Demand, 1501 Boyson Square Drive - 421.4%
- 4. Compass Commercial Services LLC., 1641 Boyson Square Drive - 189.1%
- 8. Crystal Group Inc., 850 Kacena Road - 142.3%
- 9. Health Solutions LLC., 2203 Blairs Ferry Crossing - 131%
Then in July, another permit was issued for 1641 Boyson Square for a 12,000 square foot, two story building. This is now the new home for Ahmann Design, MBN Engineering, Compass Commercial Services and Fusion Architects Inc., on the lower level and the FBI on the upper level.
In August, Dancer's EDGE, a dance studio founded in Hiawatha but had outgrown its current location, was issued a permit for a new 13,000 square foot studio at 1550 Hawkeye Drive in our New Town Commerce Center. This is about three times the space they had in their former location and now have over 430 students enrolled and a staff of 15 teachers and assistants. Charlie and Stephanie Vogl spent a lot of time looking at different buildings and building sites and we are very happy they chose to stay in Hiawatha.
Our last 2011 permit was issued in November to Novak Heating and Cooling at 820 N 15th Avenue for a single story 16,000 square foot building. This company received major damage during the 2008 flood and was looking to relocate and Randy had several options available to him. It took him a little time to decide to come to Hiawatha but we are very happy at the decision he made.
A quick review of all these permits total approximately 117,000 square foot and 260 employees.
That was a summary of the 2011 new building permits. But we also had 2 very nice remodels and one building addition. Maybe one of the most noticeable is the new face that St. Luke's put on the former Floor Trader Store. The building at 1001 North Center Point Road had been vacant for some time but this May, Hiawatha gained a new urgent care facility. The building permit valuation of that project was $2M and added 30 new jobs in Hiawatha.
Another almost empty building that was remodeled was the former Guaranty Bank building at 1195 Boyson Road. Today it is the new home for Duffy's Collectable Cars. It is never fun to see a business leave town, but it is amazing to see an empty building gain new life and many times, the new business has no resemblance of the former business. This move brought 15 new jobs to town.
In September the Hiawatha Care Center took out a permit to construct a twelve private room addition at 405 N 15th Avenue. The building permit valuation was over $1 million. This gives the facility a capacity of 95 residents and they have 100 employees.
I would like to mention that all of these building remodels were accomplished without TIF funds.
A few moments ago, I mentioned the Northwest Territory and the use of TIF to help with infrastructure costs. The Northwest Territory added sewer and water services to Pines at Turtle Creek. Diversity of residential growth is just as important as commercial growth to our City. The City was almost landlocked and the two voluntary annexations was the lifeline the City needed to re-spark its residential growth. This Northwest Territory is located north of Tower Terrace Road and west of I-380. Loggerhead Road is the main gateway to the annexed area. We all have wants and needs and the Council recognized the importance of this need and made it our #1 priority, actually putting several other projects on temporary hold. Now all this happened in 2009 & 2010. Last year alone, we had 15 new residential building permits in the area alone, plus we had several home builders return because there are now lots available to build on and we, the City, saw an approximate $2M property evaluation increase. Not a bad return on investment.
Hiawatha is strong today and will be stronger tomorrow because of the investment of business leaders, developers, contractors and home builders. How many cities do you know that have a healthy mix of commercial and residential property evaluations? Hiawatha does. Why is this a positive? It helps balance the burden of property taxes and helps keep our tax levy steady.
I have been asked any number of times what is the answer to Hiawatha's successes. There isn't enough time to cover everything but I'll try to hit some of what I think may be some of the high points. Location. Location. Location! In the mid 1970's, two new members were elected to the City Council. There was some feeling by the Council at that time that the Interstate should go around Hiawatha - not through it. These new members did not share that view and of course, that didn't happen. But the other change that helped was moving the interchange from Tower Terrace Road to Boyson Road. I think both of those changes are self explanatory to their importance to the City's success.
In the mid-70's we talked about "clean industry". I'm not exactly sure if we knew what we wanted, but we knew what we didn't want. We couldn't accept a Cargil, ADM or Penford for good reason - we didn't have the water and sewer capacity. But as luck would have it, we have been very fortunate to have developers and businesses that were and still are willing to look at our City and decide that this would be a good place to relocate. I'm never going to tell someone it's not.
How about some of the streetscaping projects finished in the last few years. We pride ourselves in quality infrastructure. We have had a team helping the City apply for and receive RISE grants. Allen Merta, Dick Ransom and Ken DeKeyser. This team's record is currently 3-0 and continues to look at other projects. While other cities feel they need to use 80% of all the STP funds available for the next 10 years to build just trails, Hiawatha is building complete streets with sidewalks, streetlights, landscaping, and trails included. I have attended functions in other cities and have had people stop me and comment on the Entrance Wall, landscaping and streetlights, all positive. As McGrath would put it "Beautiful Hiawatha". This is a real testament to past mayors and councils. How many cities do you know that have residents still actively involved with boards and commissions that worked with and for the founder of our City, Fay Clark. Not many but it's a fact in Hiawatha. Fay Clark may be gone but some of the original settlers are still active in their City. Tell me that doesn't make for a great and successful City.
How about the City staff. Most of the time, whether it's by phone or in person, they are the first impression a "new comer" may receive of Hiawatha. I think we all know how important that can be. I don't know where you will find a more capable and knowledgeable staff that is willing to take on almost any challenge on a daily basis. It's amazing what happens in this building, in this City, every single day. We are successful and strong today and will be stronger tomorrow because everyone is helping pull the same wagon.
So who are the people pulling the wagon? Who are the people that will greet you when you walk in the front door of City Hall or call on the phone? Please note this is not a full list.
Cindy Kudrna - Finance Director
Kelly Kornegor - Deputy City Clerk
Rod Jasa - Streets Superintendent
Mark Powers - Community Development Director
Carl Ransford - Water Superintendent
Marty Recker - Water Systems Supervisor
Angie Cole - Parks & Recreation Director
Jeaneal Weeks - Library Director
Dennis Marks - Police Chief
Mike Nesslage - Fire Chief
Stacy Schryba-Mead - IT/Administrative Assistant
Kim Downs - City Clerk
These are the people that can take an idea or a task and turn it into reality. We are very fortunate to have these people on our staff. There is no task that is too big for them to tackle.
So we just finished Hiawatha History 101. I hope it wasn't boring because it's us. Now let's take a look into the future. Do you want to see my crystal ball? I don't have one.
What is going to keep us strong today and stronger tomorrow? It's the history of Council's that have stayed focused on major projects throughout a number of years that have changed the landscape of this City. Since our 2004 Strategic Plan, we have stayed on task with priorities such as Boyson Road/Tower Terrace/I-380, Town Center, City Hall, and North Center Point Road. That focus has removed us from the one way "Bedroom Community" status. Today we have more people coming to Hiawatha to work than are leaving for work. Hiawatha Councils want to work with the business community and I think they have a proven track record through our TIF program and a reputation of being a friendly and easy to work with City. They have been very conservative, fiscally responsible and that doesn't mean that we haven't spent money; but I think it's been spent wisely. We have reinvested your dollars back into the City and it shows. My guess is that may be part of the reason why some companies have bought into our program.
Businesses like CCB, that added another 40,000 square foot warehouse expansion, 7,000 square foot corporate office addition and hired 40 new employees. Who can forget "Go Daddy"? That didn't cause must of a fracus! Fortunately for us, the decision to move here was made long before most knew about it. We were lucky that the facility was available and that certain relationships existed.
How about Enseva LLC? We had the opportunity to meet Doug and Chris Sevey in April of 2011. Enseva is in Hiawatha because of the combined efforts of Jon Dusek, Ace Aossey and Mary Meisterling. I'm going to paraphrase a comment from Doug about Mary. She is like a little "pit bull". She wouldn't let go, you HAVE to look at Hiawatha, so here we are. Thanks Mary!
I mentioned Mobile Demand a bit ago. They have moved into their new facilities at 1501 Boyson Square and now occupy 10,000 square foot on the lower level and half of the upper level. This represents a major move and commitment for Matt Miller and his company.
Here is another example of how the business community has bought into the City. I said that Ahmann Design had moved into their new building at 1641 Boyson Square. The reason for that was because 1601 Boyson Square, which had been Ahmann Design's previous home, became the home for Drs. Tyler, Link and Barnes D.D.S. Three dentists that needed a new home and they picked Hiawatha. How about Kirkwood? I think we are very fortunate to now have a Kirkwood Community College Campus in Hiawatha. There had been rumors for a long time that they were looking our way, today it is reality. After meeting with the College representatives and their engineers, the scheduled completion of a very extensive remodeling is August 2013. All of these are examples of Strong Today - Stronger Tomorrow.
As I critiqued today's report, it became apparent that we had spent a lot of time on recent businesses and several main streets and I think that's ok.
But that's not all that happened. Since 1998, in addition to City Hall, the City has built a new library, added on to the fire station, totally replaced the public works facility and started its own ambulance service. And the City Council has not forgotten residential streets: we have overlayed Emmons Street, Raney Street, Bowler Street and 10th Avenue.
The City has totally reconstructed West Willman Street, Heefner Street, Clark Street, and parts of 3rd, 4th, 9th and C Avenue. There are others in need of repairs and they will be addressed as resources become available. And lest I forget, I have not forgotten about Edgewood Road. Its day will come but it is not here yet.
In June of 2011, the Iowa Department of Transportation authorized a new Interchange Justification Report (IJR) for the I-380/Tower Terrace Road Interchange. This study should be completed this December and this includes the environmental aspects of the project. We are hopeful that the concerns expressed in the 2005 report have been corrected and we can take positive steps forward to a new link with I-380.
This interchange will benefit Cedar Rapids, Marion, Robins, Hiawatha, Linn County and the entire northern Metro Corridor with economic development and traffic relief on Blairs Ferry Road and Boyson Road.
The City has purchased some right-of-way property so that utility work can start on Boyson Road. We are still working with other properties for the actual intersection work. Engineering of the intersection is being done at this time and hopefully construction can begin in early 2013. This will be a signalized intersection with turn lanes and should move traffic much better than today. Other improvements on Boyson Road will be done as development occurs in the area.
A lot of concrete paving was poured in 2011. The $2.3M North Center Point Road reconstruction project is almost complete. It's three lanes wide, with a sidewalk, trail, landscaping and will have LED streetlights. We also paved Stamy Road, which had been part gravel. Both projects received RISE grants from the State of Iowa. With a RISE grant, the Iowa Department of Transportation becomes a 50/50 partner with the City in cost sharing of that project. The reason North Center Point Road qualified was because of the CCB warehouse addition and added employees. The reason Stamy Road qualified was because of the potential new commercial development and jobs in Hiawatha's New Tower Commerce Park. Other new streets in the park are Commerce Boulevard and Metzger Drive, which will accommodate increased traffic demands created by existing and future planned development and support planned economic development. One more reason we will be stronger tomorrow.
The Town Center project is the Crown Jewel in making Hiawatha stronger. It has been on-going in some form for over a decade. Even though the streetscape project has been done in many pieces and we had had some interruptions like building the new City Hall and the Northwest Territory project, there has always been a common goal and today we are closer than ever to completion of the streetscape portion of the plan. The construction of City Hall actually completed about 25% of the Town Center intersection redevelopment plan and the purchase of Oakbrook cleaned up a blighted area in the Town Center area. Since the purchase of the park, the Council has been very selective on how that area should be redeveloped.
You have heard me talk about receiving RISE grants for North Center Point Road and Stamy Road. Recently, the City received a third 50/50 RISE grant for another portion of North Center Point Road from the railroad tracks south 600 feet. It's not very long but is expensive because of the railroad crossing, but with the grant, the State will help the City with that issue. Root canals are more fun than railroad crossing issues.
The final segment will be the total redesign and modernizing of the Emmons Street/Robins Road intersection. When completed, North Center Point Road will have been completely rebuilt with a trail, sidewalks, landscaping and beautiful street lights from Blairs Ferry Road to Tower Terrace Road for a total of 2.13 miles at a cost of approximately $16M.
So do any of you remember when all of this got started? Take a look.....
2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2013, 2015
Where do we go from here?
Many have heard me say that we will never be Cedar Rapids or Marion. We have tried to compliment rather than duplicate wherever possible. I believe we are at a critical crossroad in our short history, at age 62, we are about to redefine ourselves in a very positive way. But this is where Hiawatha needs help. The City can't rebuild itself on its own. We need private investors to build upon what the City has already completed.
So Mayor, how can I help? I'm glad you asked! This is where we need a private/public partnership. We have divided the Town Center project into 7 different phases. City Hall became Phase 1. The purchase of Oakbrook started Phase 2. Some of Phase 3 will be impacted with the intersection work. If you want in on the action, you'd better hurry - the Phases are going fast. Phases 4, 5, 6a and 6b are where we need your help. This is what we see as the future look of the new town center.
- Bowling alleys
- Fitness centers
- Row houses
- Street level retail with second level office space
- Grocery store
- Specialty shops
- Senior assisted living
A barber shop, coin shop, and tattoo shop. Businesses that are here today that we don't want to lose. This list is endless.
Past and present developers have been very good to Hiawatha. I challenge our current developers to help us reshape Hiawatha's future. Help us "Create the There". You have already done it once - Look at Boyson Road, Center Point Road, Dina Court, Kacena Road or 15th Avenue, Compton Drive 18th Avenue - how many more do you want me to name? I think it's supposed to be easier the second time around.
I was asked to give a little update and I love to talk about Hiawatha. We have a great City and many have been a part of the strong today and with support, there isn't anything that we can't accomplish to lead us in a stronger tomorrow.
I would like to leave you with a story: it goes like this. After a fire leveled Fay Clark's welding shop in Oakbrook Trailer Park, he had a vision of a city growing out of this area. He built a new building that became a popular truck stop, built a water system and helped returning war veterans build new homes. In May 1950, Hiawatha became a chartered city. I only met Fay one time, but I wonder what he would think of his vision of Hiawatha today. Our vision of a stronger Hiawatha tomorrow is this.
I challenge everyone to be a part of the New Hiawatha - Stronger Tomorrow.
City of Hiawatha