Business & Economy
Treasurer Fitzgerald Encourages Iowans to Invest Their Tax Refunds in College Savings Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Karen Austin   
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 09:11

DES MOINES, IA (04/08/2014)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is encouraging Iowans to make the most of their tax refunds this year by investing in College Savings Iowa. "Much like the April 15 deadline for taxes, the time to save for college is over before you know it," said Fitzgerald. "Put your refund to good use and start saving for a loved one's future educational needs today. By starting early, saving a little at a time and making smart investment choices, families can make their savings work for them."

College Savings Iowa is designed to provide families a tax-advantaged way to save money for their children's higher education. It only takes $25 to open an account, and anyone – parents, grandparents, friends and relatives – can invest in College Savings Iowa on behalf of a child. Participants who are Iowa taxpayers can deduct contributions up to $3,098 per beneficiary from their 2014 adjusted gross income, and there are no income or residency restrictions.* Earnings grow tax free and investors can withdraw their investment federally and Iowa state tax-free to pay for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, books, supplies and certain room and board costs at any eligible college, university, community college or accredited technical training school in the United States or abroad.**

Saving for a child's education is always a smart investment, and College Savings Iowa is there to help. To learn more about College Savings Iowa or to open an account, please visit collegesavingsiowa.com or call 1-888-672-9116.

*Adjusted annually for inflation. If withdrawals are not qualified, the deductions must be added back to Iowa taxable income.

**Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.

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Investment returns are not guaranteed and you could lose money by investing in the plan. Participants assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences. If you are not an Iowa taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or the designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program.

For more information about the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan, call 888-672-9116 or visit www.collegesavingsiowa.com to obtain a Program Description. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in the Program Description; read and consider it carefully before investing.

College Savings Iowa is an Iowa trust sponsored by the Iowa State Treasurer's Office. The Treasurer of the State of Iowa sponsors and is responsible for overseeing the administration of the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan. The Vanguard Group, Inc., serves as Investment Manager and Vanguard Marketing Corporation, an affiliate of The Vanguard Group, Inc., assists the Treasurer with marketing and distributing the Plan. Upromise Investment Advisors, LLC, provides records administration services. The Plan's portfolios, although they invest in Vanguard mutual funds, are not mutual funds.

 
Better Business Bureau Celebrates Annual Integrity Awards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jamie McKenzie   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:39
On April 10, six local businesses and three high school seniors will be honored for their integrity at the Better Business Bureau Annual Integrity Awards luncheon. The Integrity Awards were established in 1993 to recognize those firms whose business practices and related activities exemplify the Better Business Bureau’s mission, “To be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.”  To date, more than 70 local businesses have been honored by the Better Business Bureau. Photo opportunities will be available beginning at 11:15 am. The following businesses will be honored for their integrity:
  • Bush Construction Company, Davenport
  • DeWitt Bank & Trust, DeWitt
  • D’Souza-Krutzfeldt Q.C. Dentistry, Davenport
  • Humility of Mary Housing & Humility of Mary Shelter, Davenport
  • Kaplan University, Davenport
  • MidAmerica Basement Systems, Davenport
The Student of Integrity Awards program was established in 2001 to recognize and honor high school seniors who personify ethics and integrity.  The three Student of Integrity winners will each receive a $2,500 scholarship to the college or university of their choice. The winners are:
  • Andrew Quested, Assumption High School, Davenport
  • Brooke Chapman, Central Community High School, DeWitt
  • Jacob Simpson, Clinton High School, Clinton
Sponsors for this year’s event include:
  • Brus Construction, 2010 Integrity Award winner
  • Cervantes & Gordon PLC
  • Creekside Vineyards-Winery & Inn
  • General Asphalt Construction
  • Iowa American Water, 1998 Integrity Award winner
  • Jersey Grille Sports Restaurant, 2011 Integrity Award winner
  • MidAmerican Energy
  • Miller Trucking and Excavating
  • Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC), 2001 Integrity Award winner
  • Modern Woodmen of America, 2000 Integrity Award winner
  • Molyneaux Insurance
  • Quad City Bank & Trust, 2008 Integrity Award winner
  • Rock Valley Physical Therapy, 2012 Integrity Award winner
  • Sign Innovations
  • Werner Restoration Services
  • WQAD News 8
About the BBB.  The BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior.  Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB Serving Greater Iowa, Quad Cities and Siouxland Region was founded in 1940 and is one of 113 BBBs.  Locally, the BBB has over 3,500 Accredited Businesses and provides reports and on companies throughout the state.  Contact the BBB at 1-800-BBB-1600 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Braley: 13,000 Iowans are Waiting for the House to Act on Unemployment Insurance PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:06

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today after the United States Senate’s successful passage of an emergency extension of unemployment benefits, restoring benefits that expired at the end of December. This is the Senate’s second successful attempt to pass a bipartisan compromise.

"No one in Congress is wondering how they’re going to make ends meet during a job search in a tough economy, but 13,000 Iowans—many of whom are struggling to get by—live that reality every day,” Braley said. “This lifeline was suddenly cut short three months ago, and it’s past time we did something to restore it.”

An emergency extension of unemployment benefits expired at the end of last year, affecting over 13,000 Iowa families. The Senate has passed two separate bipartisan compromises for a short-term extension of those benefits, but neither has been brought up for a vote in the U.S. House.

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4 Tips for Starting Your Own Home-Based Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:00
Stay-at-Home Mom & Entrepreneur Shares How-to’s

Dreaming of launching a business from your home? You’ll join an ever-growing number of entrepreneurs, according to a broad new report based on 6,000 surveys.

Sixty-nine percent of all U.S. businesses start in the home and half of them are still home-based long after they launch, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report.

“The median start-up cost was $15,000 but remember, that’s the median – it means plenty of people spend much less than that,” says Renae Christine, a serial entrepreneur who has created dozens of successful home-based businesses for herself and others. She shares practical how-to advice in her new book, “Home Business Startup Bible,” (www.richmombusiness.com).

“I started out helping other stay-at-home moms who wanted to create businesses, but there are men and women of all ages who want the freedom and independence you get from owning your own business and keeping it in the home.”

Christine says she learned a lot from early colossal failures and from her successes, too.

“A lot of people just starting out don’t think in terms of, ‘Will this choice still work in five years if the business is very successful?’ You need to consider that because it’s difficult and sometimes bad for business to go back and change things once you’ve become established,” she says.

If you’re thinking about starting a home-based business, she shares some tips for laying the groundwork.

•  It all starts with an idea – is yours a good one?
You need to be able to easily explain your idea (product or service) in one or two sentences because that’s all you’ll get to “sell” it to customers, investors and the media, including bloggers who you seek out for reviews. If you can’t explain it well in two sentences, either work on a simpler way to describe it or come up with a new idea.

•  Determine whether your idea has been done before or if it’s brand new.
There are generally three possibilities: It has been done but there’s still demand; it has been done and the market is saturated; or it has never been done. You can be successful in any of these scenarios, if you know where your idea falls and strategize appropriately. Search keyword phrases to see if what you have in mind already exists. If you come up empty, there’s either no demand or it’s never been done before. If it’s been done, search for competitors and see how many they are, what they’re doing, and how you might innovate to provide something even better, whether it’s product quality or service.

•  Create a list of all the things you need to plan for in your business.
The list might be a series of questions whose answers will be the basis for your business plan. They might include – but by no means are limited to: What are you going to sell and for how much? Will you make or buy the product? How will you package and ship it? Will you ship internationally? How will you communicate with customers? What will be your business colors? Will you hire a bookkeeper or explore software to do that yourself? The list may seem daunting, but take time to make each decision one at a time and soon, you’ll see your business taking shape.

•  Name your company after yourself or give it a made-up, easy-to-remember one-word name.
Naming the company after your product or service seriously limits future expansion (remember – it’s important to think ahead!) Naming it after yourself or giving it a one-word, made-up name allows you to expand into other products, services, and even industries. It also provides a common denominator that ties everything together. If you think you may eventually sell the company, go with a made-up name (think Zappos, Etsy, Google.) Doublecheck the U.S. Patent and Trademark website to ensure the name – even if it’s your own! -- is not already trademarked.

About Renae Christine

Renae Christine is the owner of by Renae Christine, a company that has launched several successful businesses and has helped launch dozens more for others. A journalist, she’s known for her popular YouTube videos (search Rich Mom Business channel), which use humor and pragmatism to advise others who want to launch home-based businesses. She recently published “Home Business Startup Bible,” (www.richmombusiness.com), a comprehensive how-to guide. Christine is also the founder of the Rich Mom Business University and co-hosts the online TV show, “Funny Stuff and Cheese.”

 
Braley Continues Fight to Restore Minimum Wage with Senator Harkin and Secretary of Labor Perez PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Monday, 07 April 2014 10:02

After calling on Speaker Boehner to bring a vote on the minimum wage to the House floor, Congressman tours Des Moines small business RAYGUN

Des Moines – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today toured Des Moines small business RAYGUN with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to continue his push to raise the federal minimum wage.

“RAYGUN shows you that restoring the minimum wage to a living wage is a boon to businesses, their employees, and the local economy,” Braley said. “An extra dollar or two an hour is a life-changing amount to the 300,000 Iowans who would see a raise if this law passed — it’s time we did the right thing.”

Braley, Harkin, and Perez met with workers at RAYGUN — a screen-printing company in Des Moines that is vocal about the benefits of higher wages, arguing that higher wages help build a strong workforce and profitability in the long run, while putting more money into the hands of workers who spend it in the local economy.

Earlier this week Braley wrote House Speaker John Boehner, urging him to bring legislation to the floor for a vote — predicting that there is enough support in the House to restore the minimum wage to $10.10.

Braley recently signed a ‘discharge petition’ designed to force a vote on the minimum wage in the U.S. House.

Braley also recently released a report on the minimum wage showing that since 1968, Iowans making the minimum wage have seen their real incomes fall by more than 30 percent. This means a parent with one child working 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job is living in poverty. Today, roughly 46,000 Iowans work jobs that pay at or below the minimum wage. Braley’s report indicated that over 300,000 Iowans would receive a raise if the minimum wage was raised to $10.10.

His report examines how the purchasing power of minimum wage earners has decreased dramatically over time, resulting in many minimum wage earners living in poverty despite working 40 hours a week. The report also illustrates that over time the gap has steadily grown between minimum wage earnings and earnings of the average worker.

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