Business and Economy

Business and Economic news

Greater Des Moines Partnership

 The Des Moines Metro area’s largest private employer is announcing plans to develop a history museum downtown.

Economic development leaders say it will be a linchpin to the revitalization of Walnut Street. 

Wells Fargo says it will open a 5,500-hundred-square-foot museum in its bank lobby a year from now.

City leaders say that times out perfectly with revitalization efforts on the street, which served for years as a hub for buses and was shut off to traffic.

Dani Ausen

While across the country first-time home buying is still down since the recession, it appears millennials are starting to move out of apartments or their parents basements. One place millennials are currently buying a majority of the houses is Des Moines.

Flickr / Jimmy Smith

Communities wanting to develop housing for a growing workforce can apply to the Iowa Finance Authority for low-interest loans. The state agency announced a new program Friday that provides $5 million in low-interest loans to create multifamily dwellings for low-to-moderate income renters.

Casey's General Stores, Inc.

Executives at the Ankeny-based convenience store chain Casey’s are calling the company’s first quarter results a good start to fiscal 2016. 

Casey’s is reporting record first quarter earnings of $1.57 per share, compared with $1.28 during the same period a year ago.

Company officials say sales were helped by low fuel prices and a higher demand for cigarettes.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Walljasper says Casey’s is continuing to expand.

Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation has been purchased for $2.4 billion from another media company. 

Meredith was bought by Virginia-based Media General which will form a new holding company. It will change its name to Meredith Media General and will maintain corporate and executive offices in both Des Moines and Richmond, Virginia. 

Ben Kieffer

This edition of River to River kicks off Iowa Public Radio’s Iowa Week with the theme “then and now.”

Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio

Two views of the Iowa economy released Tuesday show steady growth, but not at the rate of recent months.

The surveys come from the Iowa Business Council and Creighton University’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index.

The overall economic outlook for the third-quarter of 2015 from the Council is off 12 points from last month and nine points from a year ago.

Pink Sherbet Photography / Flickr

Financial literacy has been required as a part of the 21st-Century Skills portion of the Iowa Core for years. But specifics on enforcing the standard are fuzzy, so personal finance and economics classes vary wildly district to district.

Dan DeLuca / Flickr

Iowa has the highest rate of worker fatalities and injuries in the Midwest.

Kathy Leinenkugel, of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says this is due to several factors, including the fact that Iowa has an aging workforce where many people are self-employed.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The high-tech industry is not known for its diverse workforce. The field is made up of fewer than 25 percent women. At major tech companies in Silicon Valley, the numbers of blacks and Latinos hover between two-and-three percent. The Technology Association of Iowa is hoping to develop ways to attract more minorities to the I-T field. 

Tony Kioko is accustomed to walking into a session at a technology conference and seeing no one who looks like him.

“I’ve had several instances where I’m the only African-American in the room,” he says.

TechShop / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

Iowa's unemployment rate of 3.8% reflects nearly full employment across the state. But there are many industries that need workers, and that demand is reflected in the Iowa Hot Jobs report. Deputy Director of Iowa Workforce Development and the State Labor Market Information Administrator, Ed Wallace says jobs in the biosciences, health care, education, and agriculture continue to grow. The challenge lies in making sure those looking for work know which jobs are in most demand.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa ranks first in the U.S. for having the highest percentage of wind energy used on its electrical grid, but a new industry report by the American Wind Energy Association and the Wind Energy Foundation says there is room to grow. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the report finds that 28 percent of Iowa electricity in 2014 was generated by wind, and that number could grow to 40 percent by 2020. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The future of Iowa’s economy is front-and-center this summer during a series of week-long camps for young entrepreneurs. Middle school students polish their elevator pitches and sell their newly designed products at the weekly Farmers Market in the Valley Junction shopping area of West Des Moines. Twelve-year-old Logan Kempf shows her handmade jewelry to a potential customer.

“Those will then be put into a bracelet or a necklace with the wire and the clippers and it will be customized just for you,” she explains.

No Pain Propane

Jul 7, 2015
Courtesy photo

  ***  Please note the original  post had two thousand homes, the number is roughly 15  percent of Iowa homes or just over 183 thousand**

Good news for those who use liquid propane; from backyard grillers to farmers and to homeowners. Prices are at an all-time low.

Iowa Agriculture Department Energy Analyst Harold Hommes says those who grill will probably not notice, “when we get into those small cylinders at retail generally with the price of the exchange and that process we don’t see that fluctuate too much.”

David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen

Iowa’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Democrats in Iowa are calling for an increase, and in Washington, Democratic lawmakers would like to see the federal minimum wage raised to $12 by 2020.

On this edition of River to River we kick off our summer jobs series, Iowa At Work, by talking with Iowans trying to make ends meet on low wages.

frankieleon / Flickr

The $10 bill, long inhabited by founding father Alexander Hamilton, will soon feature a woman. The decision will be made by the U.S. Treasury Secretary, who is asking the public for help in deciding which woman to include.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer discusses the criteria for our nation’s currency and the historical significance of American bills with two historians, Thomas Schwartz, director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum in West Branch, and Larry Adams, curator at the Higgins Museum in Okoboji. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Economics teachers across the country use blackboards and chalk to teach people about supply and demand. The Planet Money team hands out candy to seventh graders.

Planet Money, a twice weekly podcast from NPR, sprung from an episode of This American Life that explained the subprime mortgage crisis. For the past six years, they’ve covered everything from the history of light to toxic assets, all to make the economy and finance more understandable to the average person.

hyoin min / flickr

Democratizing entrepreneurship and creativity

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with co-founder Amanda West and speakers of this year's EntreFEST, a three-day event promising game-changing training and inspiration, featuring over a hundred entrepreneurs. They discuss why co-working spaces are becoming more popular, how tech can help factories thrive in the 21st century, and how politics, art, and contemporary culture inspired a thought-provoking t-shirt line.

Ted Murphy

An Illinois grandmother will not be taking home almost $42 million from a Waterloo casino. Isle of Capri Casinos says Pauline McKee’s big win was due to an equipment malfunction.

The Iowa Supreme Court sided with the company.

On July 2, 2011 Pauline McKee of Antioch, Illinois was visiting northeast Iowa for a family reunion. Some of the family was staying at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo and at about 9:00 pm the  87-year-old woman and her daughters went to the gaming floor.

Flickr / Eli Feldblum

Florida-based Global Travel International Inc. has reached an agreement with the Iowa Attorney General’s office to pay nearly $45,000 in refunds to Iowans. The buying club advertises savings on retail or travel-related purchases.

Attorney General Tom Miller alleges that starting in 2008, Global Travel enrolled Iowans without giving specific notices or disclosures. As a result people were charged monthly membership fees without the proper consent.

Tim Lucas / flickr

"We gain so much more when we focus on people’s positives," says lawyer, speaker, and freelance disability consultant, Matan Koch.

Koch will speak at Coe College the evening of March 24. Ahead of his appearance, Ben Kieffer talks with Koch about how to encourage the talent, purchasing power, and experience of the disability community.

Wasendorf Fallout

Feb 4, 2015
Waterloo Courier

U.S.Bank in Cedar Falls has been ordered to pay $18 million to defrauded customers of a failed brokerage firm. The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed by The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission against Peregrine Financial Group.  The suit claimed the bank should have known CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. was stealing customer funds because the account was treated like a regular checking account. The suit alleges the bank allowed Wasendorf to transfer of millions of dollars to pay for his private jet, his restaurant, and even his divorce settlement.

Need for Speed

Jan 14, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

20 years ago, when the folks at Cedar Falls Utilities developed their own broadband internet system, they had no idea that the President of the United States would use it as a model for the rest of the country. Mr. Obama visited Cedar Falls Wednesday.  Here is his speech.

   The President is traveling around the country in advance of his State of the Union address next Tuesday to spotlight his priorities for his final two years in office.  Fast and affordable internet access is among those priorities. 

United Soybean Board

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Iowa produced 227 million gallons of biodiesel in 2014. 

Dale Calder

Urbandale’s Continental Western and other investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't receiving dividend checks since all profits from the mortgage lenders are being turned over to the U.S. Treasury. 

Jason Parks

Finding a trustworthy and affordable child care provider is one of the biggest challenges working parents face. At the same time, providers are asked to do demanding and important work for little pay.

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that problem, says infant and toddler consultant Beth Walling.

"It's like trying to tackle poverty," she says.

Walling is especially concerned, since studies show there's an achievement gap that exists at 10 months of age.

"A 3-year-old’s vocabulary can predict their third grade reading level."

Joyce Russell/IPR

It was standing room only when roughly 350 people turned out at a meeting yesterday in Fort Madison.     

Informational meetings begin this week  for landowners  in 18 Iowa counties.


Donaldson Company, Inc. is closing its Grinnell plant, laying off 75 workers.

Sodanie Chea

Dahl’s Foods is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.