How PFG's bankruptcy will impact the Cedar Valley economy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

How PFG's bankruptcy will impact the Cedar Valley economy and business community


When Russ Wasendorf Sr. moved Peregrine Financial Group to Cedar Falls, he promised a multi-million dollar impact on the community; and for five years, it did have that impact -- including funding for local athletics and charities, not to mention the money spent every day by the company's highly-skilled employees.

Now, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber is in overdrive, working to prevent that revenue -- and PFG's employees -- from leaving town.

"There's as much as a $124 million in economic benefit to this project on an annual basis-- so that's a big number," GCVA&C CEO Steve Dust estimated when we talked to him in 2007.

Wednesday, his news about the company is not nearly as optimistic.

"The fact is, they have now filed for bankruptcy," said Dust.

The unraveling of PFG, and Wasendorf, has left a huge impact on the Cedar Valley in just a few short days.

"It's a tragedy. For the business community and for those people who knew, who know the Wasendorfs. But at the same time, we have to look forward. And looking forward is -- how do we recover from this?" said Dust.

More than one hundred employees are suddenly unemployed, but Dust believes several local companies will actively seek out the highly trained workers. What's more, the alliance is working to find a new business or investor to keep the company intact.

"The work that the firm does with the software, and it's so accepted across the country and internationally, and it's also very valuable to the community, we believe that other companies that can use that software and the people who have developed it, refined it, could go as a package, could come as a package, and again, maintain that value in the Cedar Valley where it's had such an impact already," Dust explained.

As for Wasendorf's other business ventures, Dust says My Verona is an attractive property.

"We've already begun to hear of interest in investing in that facility to get it re-opened," he said.

There's no doubt PFG's bankruptcy will make a big dent in the local economy, but Dust believes the Cedar Valley will recover.

"It's going to take some time, isn't it, for us to figure out the impact of everything that's happened over the next few days and will happen over the next several weeks. But in charting a path forward, we think there's good opportunity for us to regain our strength and pull that dent out of our economy in a relatively short period of time," he said.

Dust wanted to reiterate that Wasendorf's financial problems do not-- and will not-- impact the Waterloo Tech Works II project. There were plans for a second My Verona Restaurant in the new facility. Dust says, that space has already been filled by another company.

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