Business & Economy
4 Smart Investments Beyond the Stock Market PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 14:43
With Speculations About an Impending Downturn,
Investment Entrepreneurs Suggest Options

As major stock market indexes continue to climb, so too are concerns on the “fear market” – VIX, the CBOE S&P 500 Options Volatility Index, says entrepreneur Dean Anastos.

“Advances in the market have been relatively thin in volume, and the declines have been heavier; in general, there seems to be too much complacency among investors, and there are hints here and there that the market is not as bullish as many have supposed,” says Anastos, who specializes in real estate, computer programming and trading data communications equipment.

“Now may be a really good time to look elsewhere for smart investments,” says his business partner Ricky Brava.

Anastos and Brava review some of those options.

•  Real estate is still growing. No area was hit harder by the recession than real estate. Since then, however, the getting has been good for prospective buyers looking for a profit, yet many remain gun shy due to the hard lessons of 2008-09. Meanwhile, the housing recovery continues as prices are getting back to where they once were. In many markets, buying is still cheaper than renting, “although this is not true everywhere,” Anastos says. “Ultimately, it depends on the area, the loan and how long you may be looking to live on the property – or, if you want to rent a property out, which continues to be very lucrative today.”

•  Banks have plenty of distressed debt; consider a deal. (www.apollofinancialgrp.com). “We buy distressed debt bank portfolios that aren’t generating cash for the bank and work with the families in the homes to refinance at affordable rates,” says Brava, senior partner at Apollo Financial Group, founded by Anastos, who adds, “If we can’t work it out with the owner, the property gets a second chance, rather than sitting vacant, when we sell the loans as non-performing first or second lien bank notes.”

Conduct a thorough title search of the property to reveal any liens. Check with the county to ascertain what, if any, outstanding property taxes are due. Contact a local real estate agent to get an estimation on the property and its as-is resale value.

•  Keep in mind tax-advantaged investments. Tax-advantaged investments can include real estate partnerships, oil and gas partnerships and suitability, which refers to how appropriate an investment may or may not be to an investor. Two of the most common types of real estate partnerships, for example, are low-income housing and historic rehabilitation. The federal government grants tax credits to those who construct or rehabilitate low-income housing or who invest in the rehabilitation or preservation of historic structures.

•  Pay attention to possible changes to Roth IRAs – still a good option, so far. This is still a good investment option for retirement, even though significant changes have been proposed by the White House. Your allotted money goes into a Roth after it’s already been taxed, but earnings aren’t taxed. Unlike traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, Roth owners currently don’t have to take annual distributions after turning 70½ — which means the money has even more years to grow if the owner doesn’t need it. And once the Roth owner dies, the beneficiary inherits the money tax-free. President Obama says this isn’t what was intended in a Roth and wants to change this advantage, yet his proposal continues to face mass opposition and many think it won’t pass.

About Dean Anastos and Ricky Brava

Dean Anastos is the founder of Apollo Financial Group, (www.apollofinancialgrp.com), and Ricky Brava is senior partner. Anastos is an entrepreneur with a background in real estate, computer programming and trading data communications equipment. Brava specializes in education, marketing and new business development, with an expertise in data-driven, long-term strategic planning. Both men have a strong interest in business opportunities that help resolve societal problems.

 
Governor Quinn's Statement on the Unpatriotic Corporate Tax Inversion Loophole PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Monday, 28 July 2014 13:30

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today issued the following statement in favor of legislation supported by President Barack Obama to close the corporate tax inversion loophole:

"Big corporations should not be allowed to exploit the tax code to avoid paying their fair share. Members of the House and Senate supporting closure of this loophole are right – corporations should not be allowed to shirk their own responsibilities while passing on the burden to everyday taxpayers.

"These corporations benefit from America's world-class infrastructure, education system, skilled workforce and competitive economy – not to mention U.S. customers. Yet they’re looking to renounce their citizenship and shortchange America and the everyday people who helped them grow and thrive.

"I urge Congress to take swift action on the President’s proposal to end this abuse and close this unpatriotic loophole. It's the right thing to do."

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West Music Honored With Two National Awards: NAMM Top 100 Dealer and Steinway & Sons Dealer of the Year Award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kelly Goerdt   
Friday, 25 July 2014 09:55

Coralville, IA - July 24, 2014 – West Music Company, with headquarters in Coralville, Iowa has been honored with two national awards, a Top 100 Dealer award by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) as well as the Steinway Dealer of the Year award in June 2014.

Top 100 Dealer

The Top 100 Dealer Awards bring together the best NAMM retail members across the country, recognizing best practices and rewarding the most effective campaigns. The retail music product stores that receive the distinction of being a "Top 100 Dealer" are judged by a panel of industry experts on criteria including:

  • Showing a clear understanding that the success of a retail store is directly related to customer satisfaction.

  • Providing a retail experience worth returning for and recommending others to.

  • Designing a floor plan, merchandising and marketing that encourages repeat sales.

  • Preparing for future success with sound planning, marketing and training initiatives.

  • Using the web and social media in engaging, effective ways

Recognition of Top 100 Dealers as well as the awards ceremony for the "Best Of" Awards took place this past week at the Summer NAMM Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Steinway Dealer of the Year

West Music received the Steinway Dealer of the Year award in June 2014 at a special awards ceremony in New York, New York. West Music is the exclusive dealer of Steinway, Boston, and Essex pianos in the state of Iowa. The Steinway Dealer of the Year Award recognizes outstanding performance in such areas as Steinway concert-and-artist programs, product knowledge, and customer service. This is West Music's fifth time to receive the "Dealer of the Year" award.

"It is an honor for West Music to receive this award as it is a recognition of all of the hard work our associates put in to supporting a truly excellent family of brands," said Robin Walenta, president of West Music. "The Dealer of the Year award exemplifies our commitment to providing support and developing our customers and the products they are searching for each and every day of the year."

For more information about West Music and their expansive piano services, please visit pianos.westmusic.com.

About NAMM
The National Association of Music Merchants, commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization's popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products industry, while promoting the pleasures and benefits of making music. NAMM's activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of more than 9,000 member companies in 87 countries around the world. For more information about NAMM, interested parties can visit www.namm.org or call 800-767-NAMM (6266).

About Steinway and Sons Piano Company

Since 1853, Steinway pianos have been handmade to last for generations. A treasured possession that grows in value over the course of time, Steinway is the choice of 99% of concert artists, and it is, quite simply, the standard by which all other pianos are compared. Details about Steinway & Sons may be obtained by calling (800) 366-1853 or by visiting www.steinway.com.

About West Music Company

Founded in 1941, West Music continues to fulfill its mission of creating musical communities by providing knowledge, products, and services people need to experience the power of making music! West Music specializes in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra instruments, and print music as well as offers music instruction, repair and music therapy services. West Music has eight retail locations in Iowa and western Illinois including two new locations with their recent merger with Kephart’s Music Center. For more information, visit West Music’s website at www.westmusic.com or call 1-800-373-2000.

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Five Years Since Last Minimum Wage Increase, Braley Fights to Give 300,000 Iowans a Raise PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Braley for Iowa   
Friday, 25 July 2014 09:37
Braley fighting to raise minimum wage to $10.10/hr & restore its purchasing power

Des Moines, IA – To mark the five-year anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase, Bruce Braley today reiterated his call for an overdue increase to the minimum wage that would provide 300,000 Iowans with a raise.

While obstructionists in Washington and Iowa and oil billionaires like the Koch brothers are actively working to oppose a minimum wage increase, Braley has been a leader in fighting to increase the minimum wage to $10.10/hr to help lift thousands of Iowa working families out of poverty and strengthen Iowa’s economy.  

"No one in Iowa should work a full-time job and live near or below the poverty line," Bruce Braley said. “But five years after the last minimum wage increase, the minimum wage buys less and less for Iowa’s workers. I refuse to allow partisan obstructionism in Washington and Iowa to keep our families at poverty-level wages while we provide tax breaks to oil billionaires.  Instead, I am committed to raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, strengthening our economy, and providing a pay raise to 300,000 Iowans because I believe all Iowans deserve a fair wage for a hard day’s work.”

Braley is a sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act that would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10/hr and then tie future increases to inflation. According to a Des Moines Register poll, 65% of Iowans believe the minimum wage should be increased.

Since reaching its peak in 1968 at $10.69 an hour (in 2013 dollars), the minimum wage’s purchasing power has steadily declined and left working Iowans struggling to support their families. Today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr means an Iowan working 40 hours a week would make just $15,000 a year.  

report from Progress Iowa earlier this year found that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10/hr would infuse more than $270 million into Iowa’s economy.


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White House Rural Council Announces $10 Billion Private Investment Fund to Finance Job-Creating Infrastructure Projects in Rural America PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 25 July 2014 09:36
CoBank Pledges Initial Multi-billion Commitment for New Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund; More Private Investments in Fund Expected

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014 - The White House Rural Council today announced the creation of the new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country. An initial $10 billion has been committed to the fund with greater investment expected to follow. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.

CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund's anchor investor, committing $10 billion to get the fund off the ground. Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank's initial commitment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies will help to identify rural projects that could be potential beneficiaries of financing through this new fund and other private sources.

The creation of the new fund was announced during the first-ever White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together business and financial community leaders, Administration and other government officials, rural development experts, and others to promote investment opportunities in America's rural communities.

"This fund represents a new approach to our support for job-creating projects across the country," said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and Chair of the White House Rural Council. "USDA and other agencies invest in infrastructure through a variety of federal initiatives, but our resources are finite and there are backlogs of projects in many parts of the economy. We know where investment opportunities exist, so we are in a position to help promote these projects among investors. With new efforts like this we can move beyond existing programs and help encourage substantial private investment in projects that grow the economy and improve quality of life for millions of Americans."

The Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund will allow America's rural economy to continue its forward momentum by enhancing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital.

The fund will allow a wide variety of new participants, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutional investors that have not traditionally had access to these markets to invest in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through private sector dollars. In others, private dollars may be leveraged with and extend critical government loan and grant programs.

The new Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund and the White House Rural Council's Rural Opportunity Investment Conference are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to spark additional private investment in rural communities through private sector sources or through public private partnerships like the new fund announced today. For example, USDA announced the $150 million Rural Business Investment Company earlier this year, which allows the Department to help facilitate private equity investments in innovative agriculture-related businesses. Vilsack said today that more investment vehicles such as this are in the pipeline, and other efforts to continue promoting private investment in rural areas will be announced later this year.

"Meeting the world's needs for food and farm products, as well as the growing demand in areas like renewable energy, local food, and the bioeconomy will require continued investment in rural places," Vilsack said. "Many major investors in urban centers aren't always aware of the significant investment opportunities in rural communities. If the White House Rural Council can help facilitate even a small portion of the enormous amount of available investment capital into rural places, we can grow key industries and create jobs in rural and urban areas from coast to coast."

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