Techworks

 A synergistic economic development project in Waterloo, Iowa: with TechWorks facilities, Hotel, John Deere Tractor Museum, and Renewable Energy Campus

TechWorks is a regional economic development initiative transforming a large vacant manufacturing area into a business campus and visitor destination.  The project consists of several components including:

  • The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, now open as a major visitor destination.
  • The renovation of the “Tech 1” building into TechWorks innovative space for collaboration, research and small manufacturing. This collaboration will be facilitated through the University of Northern Iowa’s Metal Casting Center and Design Lab, additional flexible manufacturing space, Makerspace, and physical and virtual collaboration opportunities to connect a deep network of industry players.
  • “Tech 2” Business-Class Hotel with 180 rooms, boutique restaurant, and facilities for John Deere Corporate Training (see transformation graphics and photos from InVision Architects).

After helping develop the business model and site plan, Vandewalle & Associates was retained by the Waterloo Development Corporation to implement the plan and seek funding for building renovation and site preparation. The State of Iowa used TechWorks as a pilot project for the Iowa Values fund and awarded significant financial resources toward building renovation. Deere & Company subsequently awarded the project millions of dollars toward building demolition and renovation.

Partnerships. The concept quickly gained momentum and early partners included Deere & Company, University of Northern Iowa, Hawkeye Community College, Cedar Valley Makers, Marriot Hotels, and Financial District Properties.

Results. Today, over $70 million in new investment is moving forward on the TechWorks campus.  On their own, each of these components has the potential to create jobs and contribute to the local economy.  However, the real economic power of TechWorks comes from the combination of all these components into a single campus in downtown Waterloo.  Together, the collective impacts include:

  • Jobs – The TechWorks project will create short term jobs building and installing renewable energy systems at the facilities, as well as long term jobs within the components of the campus.  Further, the economic activity produced by the project will create additional indirect jobs in the community.
  • Taxbase – TechWorks will result in a massive investment of private dollars into properties that are currently underutilized.
  • Workforce Recruitment/Retention and Community Image – In today’s global economy, companies must offer a high quality of life and amenities that bring top talent to consider living and working in the community.  By creating a unique, innovative project that also helps drive the vitality of the entire downtown, TechWorks will dramatically enhance the image of Waterloo.
  • Visitor Spending – In addition to the visitors who will come to Waterloo to the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, the inclusion of complementary visitor services on campus, conference accommodations, a globally significant energy and technology showcase, and new businesses, will result in even more visitors.