Six years ago, the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) was just a group of volunteers with a passion for Lean and a desire to bring its practitioners together from across the Iowa economy. Today, the organization has 76 member companies and 63 individual members and routinely hosts events with capacity crowds—sometimes with a waiting list to get a seat. Members come from manufacturing, health care, insurance, finance, government, and education to learn from one another.
By all accounts, it was a successful first date. Mary Connell, president of Clinton-based Air Control/ACI Fabricators, attended an annual Midwest NDIA (National Defense Industrial Association) conference because CIRAS asked her to in its capacity as the company’s “matchmaker.” And she found a new business opportunity.
Small businesses are expected to always have a place in government contracting. United States policy, per the Small Business Act and other subsequent legislation, says the maximum practical opportunity must be provided to all small business categories. The president annually establishes government-wide goals declaring the minimum percentage of prime contracts that should go to businesses in the following categories:
In a time of tight budgets and unfavorable demographics, it’s in Dave Zrostlik’s best interest to keep all the employees he has. Zrostlik is president of Stellar Industries, an employee-owned maker of truck-mounted hydraulic equipment in Garner. Like the rest of Iowa, Stellar faces a growing shortage of skilled workers, as older employees retire and young rural residents head out of town for the brighter lights of big cities.
(ICYMI, here's another in CIRAS' series of "Did You Know?" informational guides authored by the experts with our Procurement Technical Assistance Program. Their purpose is to help guide businesses through the world of government contracting. Check the end of the story for contract information.) Did you know that the U.S. Small Business Administration is working on a new program that will allow all types of small businesses to have a mentor protégé agreement (MPA) and potential joint ventures with other businesses, even large businesses?
Four Iowa corporations have joined forces with CIRAS to create the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum (ISBF)—a new nonprofit organization that will be dedicated to improving businesses while boosting environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
Manufacturing jobs that fled U.S. soil decades ago for cheaper overseas labor might now be poised to come back – but only in certain sectors and only a little at a time, according to a newly released white paper from two CIRAS experts. The upshot for Iowa is that producers in a handful of tipping-point industries should be keeping a close eye on labor and energy prices. In some cases, CIRAS experts say, those numbers could prove that manufacturers are paying too much to foreign suppliers or that U.S.-based suppliers are missing an opportunity.
Happy Friday. Ready for the holiday? We suggest you avoid any new projects this morning and instead spend today catching up on a few days’ worth of industry news. Here’s what you might learn while trying hard to look busy:
An Adel-based manufacturer of springs for garage doors and agricultural equipment cut its costs by more than 30 percent and expects to boost sales by more than $1 million after adopting an innovative new technology that it tested as part of a CIRAS innovation service.
DUBUQUE– Northeast Iowa businesses should now find it easier to get what they need to grow. Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) and Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) have announced a partnership to provide a single point of contact for businesses seeking help in that region. As part of this agreement, Seth Gilbert, J.D., has been named the NICC/CIRAS Account Manager for the Dubuque area and will be charged with helping businesses find the programs and support services they need in either or both entities.