Business & Economy
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Aleshia Chiesa   
Friday, 20 June 2014 08:00

New stores and Kids Club events this weekend at SouthPark Mall

WHO: SouthPark Mall’s redevelopment is currently underway as eight national retailers have officially opened their new prototype store fronts, including Claire’s Boutique, Sprint by iMobile, LensCrafters, MasterCuts, Spencer’s, Christopher & Banks, Payless ShoeSource, and Dairy Queen|Orange Julius.

More changes are coming as Shoe Dept. Encore will open a brand new store this fall, but can still be found near Von Maur. Journey’s, located by Payless ShoeSource will open a brand new store this summer and Bath & Body Works, next to Vitamin World, is scheduled to open their new store in 2015. SouthPark Mall continues to bring new retailers along with expanded stores to further enhance the appeal and attraction for the local community. All stores are open during the construction phase as we bring these enhancements to the center.

WHAT: To keep the momentum of the redevelopment going, a free kids’ event will be held in Younkers Court in partnership with National Geographic. The Kids Club event will include an appearance by Rascal, the River Bandits mascot, plus Teske’s Pet and Garden Center will have pets on hand including birds, bunnies and more. The Piercing Princess from Claire’s will also be there to style you with the perfect jewelry for summer.

For more information on great events, and updates on the redevelopment visit or follow us on Twitter @SouthParkMallIL and like us on Facebook at


WHEN: LensCrafters – Now Open

MasterCuts – Opens Saturday, June 21 @ 10:00AM

National Geographic Kids Club Event – Saturday, June 21 @ 1:00PM



WHERE: LensCrafters – Located next to Von Maur

MasterCuts – Located near Younkers

National Geographic Kids Club – Located in Younkers Court

Do You Have Insurance on Your Retirement Plan? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 19 June 2014 14:29
Financial Planner Shares Tips for Protecting Your Savings

You have insurance on your home, your car, your health.

How about your retirement plan?

“People have homeowners insurance to protect against fires and floods,” notes independent financial planner Stephen Ng, founder and president of Stephen Ng Financial Group, ( “They buy insurance to replace their car if it gets wrecked and they buy health insurance to protect themselves from medical costs.

“But for many people, their biggest material asset is their retirement portfolio. When I look at a new client’s portfolio and ask, ‘Where’s your insurance?’ they look at me like I’m crazy!”

Insure your retirement fund by taking steps to safeguard at least a portion of it, Ng says. As you get closer to retiring, the amount you safeguard will be what you need to rely on for your retirement income.

“Your retirement income should be derived from guaranteed sources, such as Social Security benefits and your pension plan,” says Ng, a licensed 3(21) fiduciary advisor, certified to advise companies about their 401(k) and other retirement plans. “It’s the amount you need to pay the bills and do the other things you hope to do in retirement, so your retirement income needs to be a guaranteed source of income.

“Then you look for your ‘play checks.’ That’s the money you don’t absolutely have to have, so you can still try to grow it, and take risks with it, in the market.”

Ng offers these tips for insuring your retirement plan:

•  Invest a portion of your portfolio in annuities.
Annuities are long-term investment options through insurance companies that guarantee you payments over a certain rate of time, which could be the rest of your life or the life of your spouse or other survivor. Note: The guarantee is subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

•  If you leave your job, quickly roll your employer-sponsored 401(k) into an IRA.
While 401(k)s are a great tool for saving, particularly if your employer is providing matching funds, if you were to die, the taxes your survivors would pay on your 401(k) would be much higher than on an IRA. That’s because they would have to inherit the money in a lump sum – that could easily take 35 percent right off the top. The lump-sum rule does not apply to IRAs. While your spouse would have the option to inherit your 401(k) as an IRA, your children would not. So, take advantage of your employer-sponsored 401(k), but if you leave the company, convert to an IRA or ROTH IRA. You can also begin transferring your 401(k) funds to an IRA at age 59½.

•  Consider converting your IRA to a ROTH IRA.
For protection from future income tax rate increases, you should consider slowly converting your tax-deferred IRA funds into a ROTH IRA. Yes, you’ll have to pay the taxes now on the money you transfer, but that will guarantee that withdrawals in your retirement are not taxed – even as the money grows. If you plan to leave at least part of your IRA to your children, they’ll benefit from a fund that continues to grow tax-free.

About Stephen Ng

Stephen Ng is the founder and president of Stephen Ng Financial Group™ ( Since 1992, he has helped pre-retirees and retirees preserve and increase their wealth by, in part, helping them avoid common mistakes. He regularly holds financial management, retirement investing and insurance planning seminars at businesses, churches and non-profit organizations. Ng is a Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and a Certified Estate Planner. He is also an Investment Advisor Representative with SagePoint Financial, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.  He brings a national and international perspective to his financial advice, with professional and educational roots in Australia and Asia, and certifications in 19 states.

Braley Urges Boehner to Reduce Tax Burden on Iowa Families, Bring Three Tax Cuts to Floor for Vote PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Thursday, 19 June 2014 14:14

Congressman writes letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to bring Child Tax Credit, Tuition Relief for Students Act and Earned Income Tax Credit to House floor

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner asking him to bring important tax credits for Iowa families to the House floor for a vote. The tax credits include Braley’s Child Tax Credit Restoration Act which would double the Child Tax Credit, Braley’s Tuition Relief for Students Act to extend the tax deduction for undergraduate and graduate students, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“These commonsense tax credits would help offset the tax burden on Iowa families and make college more affordable for middle class Iowans,” Braley said. “Bringing these important pieces of legislation to the floor for a vote and passing them quickly is a no-brainer for families and the economy. The House has prioritized tax credits for businesses—which I’ve been happy to support—but working class families shouldn’t be ignored.”

The Child Tax Credit is currently set at $1,000, but has not kept up with inflation since it was last raised in 2001. Braley’s legislation which he first introduced in February would double the value of the credit up to $2,000 for qualifying families.

Braley’s Tuition Relief for Students Act would extend the $4,000 tax deduction for undergraduate and graduate students for four years.

Braley’s letter argues that improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit should be made permanent as it is one the most successful policies in place for lifting families out of poverty and encouraging work.

“These are common-sense tax cuts for middle class families, and I urge you not to delay any more and to bring these tax cuts up for a vote,” Braley’s letter reads.

Braley’s letter to Boehner can be found HERE.

# # #

Groups across Iowa Protest Wage Theft by Outback Cleaning Contractor PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dino Leone   
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 14:46

Labor, faith, and community activists are rallying at Outback Steakhouse restaurants in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Clive, and Sioux City on Wednesday June 18 at 6:00pm to protest the latest case in what experts are calling a growing epidemic of “wage theft” – when workers are not paid some or all the wages they are legally owed for their labor. Last fall, Kossiwa Agbenowassi worked hard seven days per week cleaning an Outback Steakhouse in Coralville to support her young children – but the restaurant’s cleaning contractor has refused to pay her for 49 days of her work, totaling more than $2,300 in wages she is legally owed.

Kossiwa was hired by Sandpiper Maintenance and Repair, which held cleaning contracts with at least two Outback Steakhouses in Iowa. Sandpiper is not licensed in the state of Iowa, has no legitimate business address, and has refused to return Kossiwa’s calls. This spring, alone and unsure how to proceed, Kossiwa approached the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (CWJ), an Iowa City-based group that helps low-wage workers understand and defend their civil and workplace rights. With CWJ’s help, Kossiwa has filed complaints with state and federal agencies, and has enlisted the help of faith and labor activists who have also contacted the Outback and its contractor. A few weeks ago, Representative Art Staed called for an investigation into this case by the Iowa Attorney General, Iowa Workforce Development, and the U.S. Department of Labor. In response to growing community concern, the Outback has ended its use of this cleaning contractor…but Kossiwa has still not been paid. CWJ Director Misty Rebik says that while she welcomes the Outback’s decision to end its contract with Sandpiper, it’s not enough. “The Outback hired this contractor, and benefited from Kossiwa hard labor. She needs to be paid immediately, and the Outback has a responsibility to make sure that happens.”

Wage theft is reaching epidemic proportions in low-wage workplaces, according to a 2012 report by the Iowa Policy Project, which estimates that low wage Iowa workers miss out on an estimated $600 million in wages each year. The Iowa legislature considered a bill this spring that would have strengthened penalties against employers who don’t pay their workers; it passed the Senate, but the House failed to take action. The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa is sponsoring Wednesday’s actions, with solidarity from labor federations in the Quad Cities, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Sioux City.

Hong Kong Market Reopens for U.S. Beef PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 14:36
U.S. to Benefit from Expanded Export Opportunities

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the United States and Hong Kong have agreed on new terms and conditions that pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Hong Kong.

"This is great news for American ranchers and beef companies," said Vilsack. "Hong Kong is already the fourth largest market for U.S. beef and beef product exports, with sales there reaching a historic high of $823 million in 2013. We look forward to expanded opportunities there for the U.S. beef industry now that all trade restrictions are lifted," Vilsack said.

Under the new terms, Hong Kong will permit the import of the full range of U.S. beef and beef products, consistent with access prior to December 2003. The new terms become effective today, June17, 2014. Previously, only deboned beef from all cattle and certain bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months of age could be shipped from the United States to Hong Kong. Earlier this year, Mexico, Uruguay, Ecuador and Sri Lanka also lifted their longstanding restrictions to provide full access for U.S. beef and beef products.

"Last year, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) granted the United States negligible risk status for BSE, further affirming the safety of U.S. beef and beef products," said Vilsack. "We welcome this move by Hong Kong and will continue our efforts to break down barriers and expand access for high-quality, safe and wholesome U.S. food and agricultural products in Hong Kong and around the world."

In December 2003, Hong Kong banned U.S. beef and beef products following the detection of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-positive animal in the United States (one of only four cases ever discovered in America). In December 2005, Hong Kong partially reopened its market to allow imports of deboned U.S. beef from cattle aged 30 months or younger produced under a special program for Hong Kong and expanded access to include certain bone-in cuts from cattle less than 30 months of age in February 2013.

Experts in the United States and countries around the world have confirmed that U.S. beef is safe, with extremely low risk of BSE. There has never been a recorded case of BSE transmission to a human through American beef.

While Hong Kong is officially part of China, it serves as its own customs and quarantine administration zone and so maintains its own rules and regulations.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)


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