Rockwell Collins deal: What Cedar Rapids mayoral candidates had to say

The Gazette asked candidates how they would handle the acquisition

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While current city leaders have to deal with United Technologies Corp.’s planned acquisition of Rockwell Collins now, that won’t always be the case. The deal likely won’t close until the second half of next year, months after Cedar Rapids residents vote for a new mayor and city council members.

Here’s what Cedar Rapids mayoral candidates previously told The Gazette about how the would handle Rockwell Collins’ future in the city. Responses have been edited.

KRIS GULICK

In addition to talking with company leadership, Gulick said the city should continue to nurture an entrepreneurial community.

“Our local Rockwell personnel know why Cedar Rapids would be the best place but that is not necessarily true of United Technologies decision-makers. Understanding United Technologies needs and process for making this decision is important to improve our chances of retaining the headquarters in Cedar Rapids.”

BRAD HART

If Cedar Rapids loses the headquarters of Rockwell Collins or its successor, Hart said he would ask local companies to “step up and do more to help lessen the negative impact on jobs and philanthropy.”

“As Mayor I will do everything possible to vocally support that the combined entity’s HQ remain in Cedar Rapids, including reminding the decision-makers of the high quality work force here and the reduced cost of living we offer. I’m optimistic our total workforce numbers may not decrease much, if any, but losing the headquarters will undoubtedly impact our city.”

GARY HINZMAN

Hinzman said he would continue the work of current Cedar Rapids staff and Iowa’s congressional delegation, which has already spoken with Rockwell Collins.

“The new mayor must aggressively maintain the process already began, including working with our congressional delegation. The new mayor should also quickly establish a business council comprised of retired business CEOs to review this matter and develop recommendations for the City to consider as we work to keep Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids.”

SCOTT OLSON

Olson pointed to improvements the city has made he said would make it difficult for UTC to relocate the local headquarters, such as road improvements near Rockwell’s offices.

“s a council member and your Mayor, I will work tirelessly with the city manager, our economic development staff, the Economic Alliance, State of Iowa and of course, the council to do everything we can to keep Cedar Rapids as the headquarters of the new United Technology Aerospace Division.”

TIM PRIDEGON

Pridegon said he would promote Cedar Rapids and Iowans, as well as Rockwell Collins’ long relationship with the city.

“I will make a concentrated effort to reach out to local & surrounding communities & colleges to point out what a great place Cedar Rapids is to live, work, & play. This will provide an even greater employee prospect pool.”

JOREL ROBINSON

City leaders need to show Rockwell Collins “we want them here” and the city should not approach the acquisition with “fear,” Robinson said.

“We have been able to rebound from Billions in damage and a city that was shut down. Cedar Rapids is strong and we have to show the owners we are and we plan on doing more. That is the mind-set to have and I hope we take this path.”

LEMI TILAHUN

Tilahun said Cedar Rapids needs to “fight to keep the company here within means.”

“Also, build a relationship with the purchasing company and communicate the importance of the work that Rockwell does in this community and how it is a model company and its to their benefit to keep it here.”

MONICA VERNON

Vernon said she would first make a call to Rockwell’s CEO and ask for an in-person meeting. She said she would also work to build a pipeline of potential new business opportunities for the city.

“I would do everything I could to make sure that if any piece of the decision-making process involves the city — whether it be housing, workforce development, land, or infrastructure — that we will be prepared with answers to fight to keep the headquarters here in Cedar Rapids.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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