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Networking Newswire Stories

Networking Helps Cedar Ridge Solve Equipment Needs

Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery had a problem: its packaging equipment was inefficient, took up too much space, and required too many people to operate. Replacing the outdated machinery would cost more than $150,000. Murphy Quint, head distiller and chief of operations at Cedar Ridge, knew the Iowa Economic Development Authority had a program to … Continue reading Networking Helps Cedar Ridge Solve Equipment Needs

Businesses Connect at Matchmaking Events

Companies use CIRAS matchmaking events to help secure government contracting work, connect with subcontractors, and meet potential suppliers. “Getting in front of a large manufacturer can be difficult for smaller companies, and sifting through thousands of company profiles for a subcontractor can be daunting for original equipment manufacturers,” said Melissa Burant, CIRAS project manager. “Our … Continue reading Businesses Connect at Matchmaking Events

Q&A with Strategic Advisor, Derek Thompson

Q: Tell me about your job and how it contributes to the overall goals of CIRAS to help companies prosper. A: As a member of the Strategic Advisor team, we are the sales force of CIRAS.  We are calling on and developing relationships with the leaders at our Iowa manufacturing companies so that we can … Continue reading Q&A with Strategic Advisor, Derek Thompson

CIRAS Welcomes 2023 Summer Interns

  CIRAS is set to welcome the 2023 summer interns to the team. CIRAS hosts interns throughout the summer, offering students professional networking opportunities that will contribute to their professional connection and interest in pursuing manufacturing. The goals of the internship program are as follows: Expose talented young professionals to manufacturing Provide students with opportunities to … Continue reading CIRAS Welcomes 2023 Summer Interns

Meet the Buyer Events Lead to Immediate Results

Not many small businesses have staff who can spare several hours a week pursuing government contracts. It can be time-consuming to determine which government agencies to contact, to research their needs and protocols, and to prepare a sales pitch. It’s even a challenge just to find the right person in the right department—and to get … Continue reading Meet the Buyer Events Lead to Immediate Results

CIRAS Looks Forward to 2023

It’s been a wild and wooly economy the past three years, but CIRAS is looking forward to the upcoming year with new ways to help Iowa businesses manage oncoming challenges. “2023 is going to be a year where we learn a lot about where the economy and industry is going in the next three to … Continue reading CIRAS Looks Forward to 2023

1st Annual Construction Diversity Accelerator – Hosted by Turner Construction & CIRAS

An international construction company is partnering with CIRAS to increase the participation of underrepresented contractors on its projects. Turner Construction, the largest domestic contractor in the U.S., and the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) are offering a free five-week program designed to enhance the ability of Underrepresented Business Enterprises (UBEs) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises … Continue reading 1st Annual Construction Diversity Accelerator – Hosted by Turner Construction & CIRAS

Persistence Pays Off

Landing a government contract isn’t an easy task, but it is possible—especially if you have someone knowledgeable to guide you through the process. Just ask Cinnamon Rost. Rost, who owns and operates 1809 Design in Clive, submitted her first government request for proposal (RFP) in 2020. “It was daunting, but CIRAS made it more manageable,” … Continue reading Persistence Pays Off

New Targeted Small Business Wins First Contract

A Cedar Rapids-based lawn care company was awarded a small initial contract that has since led to more than $100,000 in work after CIRAS helped prepare the business owner for the government contracting process. Rupert Ellis, owner of Crew Cut Lawn Care, contacted Julie Fagle, a government contracting specialist with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance … Continue reading New Targeted Small Business Wins First Contract

Partnerships Support Company Growth

Leveraging resources available through CIRAS and its partners is one key to the unprecedented growth of Brava Roof Tile. Over the past two years, the southeast Iowa manufacturer moved into a new facility, tripled its workforce, and significantly increased its sales. Founded in 2008 in Washington, Iowa, Brava makes high quality synthetic roof tiles from recycled … Continue reading Partnerships Support Company Growth

Did You Know? Taking Advantage of Networking Opportunities

By: Justin Niceswanger In my role as a counselor for Iowa businesses seeking government contracts and subcontracts, I’ve noticed how it can be difficult for some of our clients to move forward in using direct marketing efforts, and begin building relationships with government personnel and prime contractors.  These actions aren’t easy for everyone: Even if … Continue reading Did You Know? Taking Advantage of Networking Opportunities

Partnerships Help Plas-Tech Tooling Grow

Much has changed in the years since Dean and Marcia Sonquist launched Plas-Tech Tooling in 1993. The business long ago moved from the couple’s garage into a building in Garner. The company’s labor force has grown from 1 employee to nearly 30 full-time workers, and the focus of the business has broadened significantly. The Sonquists … Continue reading Partnerships Help Plas-Tech Tooling Grow

Getting the Most from Tradeshows

Attending a tradeshow can pay big dividends for even small companies. The right show can provide networking opportunities, give insights on competitors, and update you on developments in your industry. But tradeshows can be overwhelming, especially if you decide to attend a large-scale event. To maximize the experience, consider these suggestions from CIRAS staff members: … Continue reading Getting the Most from Tradeshows

Internships Key to Recruiting Young Talent

When Marlene Hernandez graduates from Iowa State University next spring, she’ll do so with newfound self-confidence and a resume packed with experience. As an intern with CIRAS, Hernandez delved into everything from employee compensation issues to safety and health. “It has made me feel more confident in my capabilities and has helped me develop professional … Continue reading Internships Key to Recruiting Young Talent

IPI Finds Benefit in ILC Membership

Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) credits membership in the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) with broadening opportunities for the people it serves. IPI is a division of the Iowa Department of Corrections that provides training to incarcerated men and women. IPI staff are ILC members through the State of Iowa’s organizational membership.  “The networking relationships we’ve developed … Continue reading IPI Finds Benefit in ILC Membership

Marketwise Helps Leaders Face Challenges Together

A networking group launched seven years ago by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry in partnership with CIRAS continues to help its members learn from people who do the same work they do. MarketWise provides marketing and sales leaders opportunities to expand their skills through education, shared experiences, and best practices with their peers. … Continue reading Marketwise Helps Leaders Face Challenges Together

CIRAS Advice Helps Schramm Electric Join Derecho Clean-up Effort

A Sioux City electrical firm landed more than $190,000 in state contracts after CIRAS helped the company register as a vendor with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security.

Stephanie Schramm, office manager at Schramm Electric, said her company turned to the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in early 2020 when Schramm had questions about how to register for business with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

CIRAS government contracting specialist Mary Zimmerman responded by providing detailed instructions for navigating the FEMA registration process. She also suggested that the company get on a vendor list for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security.

Ready for In-Person Events? Let us know.

CIRAS, like most of the rest of the world, called a halt to in-person educational events last year when the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold. We didn’t like it. We didn’t want to. But we did what we thought was best for your health and the health of our staff – and in the process, we launched hundreds of detailed video webinars that since have been viewed by thousands of Iowa business people.

Now, as vaccines roll out and the case counts fall, we’re starting to ponder what the future will look like for CIRAS events

Five Ways CIRAS Can Help You Grow in 2020

New years bring a time for new beginnings. To quote Charles Kettering, an inventor and the head of research for General Motors from 1920 to 1947, “Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas.”

If CIRAS is a new idea for you, then why not start the new year by considering a few new topics?

Here are five ways that CIRAS can help your company grow in 2020:

CIRAS is Sponsoring Winter Conference of Master Builders of Iowa

Iowa’s leading organization of construction contractors will hold its annual meeting next month, and CIRAS plans to be there helping companies learn how to advance their businesses.

CIRAS is a sponsor of this year’s Annual Winter Conference of the Master Builders of Iowa (MBI). Founded in 1912, MBI is one of 89 chapters of the Associated General Contractors of America, the most influential and widely respected construction association in the country. The Iowa chapter’s annual gathering is scheduled for February 24-26 at the Prairie Meadows Event and Conference Center in Altoona.

Did You Know?… Subcontracting Expands your Government Sales

Subcontracting opportunities can be a lucrative avenue in the government sector, which allows businesses to participate in government contracting without dealing directly with the government.

Why subcontracting? The federal contracts that are awarded to prime contractors often come with subcontracting plans containing goals for doing a percentage of the work with small businesses.

Simply Soothing, Milkhouse Candles Light Wick on New Product

A popular Iowa-made brand of all-natural insect repellant now comes with a wick—thanks to a new union between two highly successful CIRAS clients.

Simply Soothing, the Columbus Junction maker of Bug Soother insect spray, launched a new line of 8-oz. candles this summer with help from Milkhouse Candle Company, a soy-based candle firm with factories in Osage and New Hampton.

The candles, which are being manufactured by Milkhouse but sold under the Bug Soother name, are the culmination of years of conversations between the two companies. It all began after Ryan Horgen, head of business development for Milkhouse, read an article on Simply Soothing in CIRAS News.

What Our Peers Think:  Cybersecurity

Every day we hear another story about a hack. Terms like ransomware, two-factor authentication, data breach, botnets sound like they are from a science fiction movie, not the shop floor. Small- to mid-sized manufacturers are among the most frequent targets of hackers, driven in part by the perceived ease of beating your systems.The solution to cybersecurity risks is a complex mix of IT solutions, processes, and new cultural norms. Where do you start?

MarketWise Group Provides a Place to Share Ideas, Answers

Once every other month for five years, Donna Bruesewitz has taken a day away from her office and driven somewhere to learn from others who do what she does.

Learning the Rules of the Federal Sales Game

Selling your product or service to the federal government can be a confusing prospect: You catch a glimpse of what appears to be a lucrative future sitting on the horizon, but the path to that goal is blocked by a confusing mass of questions that need to be answered before you can get there.

MEP Best Practices Conference: Lessons Learned

In September, leaders and subject matter experts from around the MEP National NetworkTM gathered in Kansas City for our biennial best practices conference. Why is this a big deal?  The 300 or so manufacturing experts in attendance brought back lessons learned from working with more than 26,000 U.S. manufacturers in the last year alone. In addition to sharing operational practices that make us successful, this was an opportunity to get a pulse on American manufacturing.

CIRAS PTAP—Link to National Network of Contracting Expertise

Government contracting is a byzantine business—a long and plodding trek through a jungle filled with complicated regulation, documentation requirements, and new marketing challenges.

Sound impossible? Not if you have help.

Planning Continues to Bring About ‘Year of Manufacturing’ Industry Expansion

Industry experts from around the state are developing a detailed plan for growing Iowa manufacturing—with CIRAS slated to play a leading role both in the plan’s design and its implementation.

The ongoing effort stems from 2017’s governor’s Year of Manufacturing initiative, which charged the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Innovation Council (IIC) with finding ways to increase a $29 billion  manufacturing gross domestic product to $32 billion by 2022.

WORKFORCE PIPELINE: CIRAS Helps Companies Find Solutions

CIRAS projects have a big impact on Iowa and its communities.

One of the things we do is to help companies find their way around a scarcity of workers. Sometimes, that means helping them reach out to graduating students:

CONNECTIONS: CIRAS Helps Iowa Companies Find Answers

CIRAS projects have a big impact on Iowa and its communities.

For example, our latest edition of CIRAS News took a look at the breadth of who we’ve helped over the past five years:

CIRAS + MEP = The National Network for Manufacturers

One of the promises CIRAS makes to our clients is that working with us brings you more than just our 500+ years of combined industry experience. Clients also get connected with CIRAS’ vast network of experts. Usually, this means one of our great partners or the service providers we work with in Iowa. But frequently, it means tapping into the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network.

The Future of Manufacturing is Happening Today

Every day we see something “new” in manufacturing. 3D Printed food, connected everything, cobots, and the list goes on. In fact, we’ve heard of these possibilities for decades. But something about these things seems a bit more real now than in the past. Like something important is happening

CIRAS Networking: A New Focus in 2018

As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know.

Thanks to Google, online forums, and social networking sites, a lot of people will tell you that old saying is out of date. Our experience at CIRAS is that it is more true than ever. Searching the web for solutions to problems is great, but sometimes it is the personal connection that makes it real, and helps you implement real change within your business.

How to Create Your Own Elevator Speech

A quick, easy way to create your elevator speech is to review your capability statement, drawing ideas from your core capabilities and differentiators. Or you could perform the following steps: