Business and Economy

Business and Economic news

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.

gb_packards

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

Sodanie Chea

Dahl’s Foods is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Photo Courtesy of the Institue for Justice

Carole Hinders of Arnold’s Park, IA, wasn’t charged with a crime, but that didn’t stop the I.R.S. from seizing the entire balance of her checking account, more than $30,000.

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.

Rob Dillard

Li Zhao Mandelbaum comes from a nation of more than one-point-three-billion people. So the concept of small is relative.

“I often introduce myself, I’m from Nanning, a small city in China, and people will say OK tell me the population, and I will say well, we have about six million population,” she said.

Her hometown is about an hour’s flight west of Hong Kong near China’s border with Vietnam. It’s known for its lush greenery and hilly terrain. But despite its beauty, it wasn’t enough for the adventurous, young Li Zhao.

Rob Dillard

A few dozen of Central Iowa’s high-tech brain trust are pouring beers and munching tacos on the fifth floor of a downtown Des Moines office building.

They’ve come together a few days before the lights go out on a business incubator that became the centerpiece for an area known as Silicon Sixth.

They exchange pleasantries with the two men at the heart of Startup City Des Moines – Christian Renaud and Tej Dhawan.

Before the party began, Dhawan sat in a remote conference room and reflected on what he was looking to accomplish for high-tech firms in Central Iowa.

Clay Masters / IPR

 Business is booming in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale oilfields. With that boom comes a need for infrastructure. More than half of the oil out of the Bakken leaves by train or truck.  But companies are working on pipelines.  One proposed pipeline would cut clear through the state of Iowa. 

Data centers store digital information off site from a company’s headquarters.  In the past couple years tech giants Google, Facebook and Microsoft have all announced plans for new facilities in Iowa.  

John Rath blogs for Data Center Knowledge and works as a facilities manager for OneNeck IT Solutions in Cedar Falls. He cites one advantage to building in Iowa is a low incidence natural disasters.

Iowa’s only nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center,  is observing its fortieth year in operation with the release of a report showing its economic impact in  the state.   Governor Branstad joined company officials for a celebration at the plant outside Palo.  

Restaurants Closing due to Low Profits

Apr 4, 2014
Photo by Dean Borg

Customers expecting a dining bargain are making it difficult for restaurants to stay in business.  Jessica Dunker, President and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association   composed of some six-thousand restaurants, says it’s increasingly common for customers to choose free water when ordering an entrée, depriving the business of beverage profits.  Dunker also says restaurants hoping to boost sales by offering deals such as Living Social or Groupon promotions are creating “Groupon addicts”.

Clay Masters / IPR

Plans to build a new regional airport are underway in south central Iowa’s Mahaska County. Two existing airports – in Oskaloosa and Pella would close – and a new consolidated one would provide services to large companies in the area. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports on the fight over whether or not a new regional airport will help the area economy. 

Men Hold Two-Thirds of Management Jobs in Iowa

Sep 26, 2013
SalFalko / Flickr

There are far more men than women in top management jobs in Iowa, according to a new report.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal advocacy group, has released a "State of Women in America" report. It found men hold 67 percent of managerial jobs in Iowa as top administrators in the public and private sectors.

chibirashka / Flickr

Prospects for a new casino along Interstate Highway 80 on Davenport’s north side may be stalling as the city considers a lawsuit.

        

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