Business & Economy
Scott County named amongst the best value for its property tax dollars in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Linden Kohtz   
Friday, 30 May 2014 08:50

According to a new report from SmartAsset, Scott County, is amongst the top in the Iowa in best value for its property tax dollars. This means Scott County is getting a deal – better public schools and lower crime rates compared to the amount of money they pay each year in property taxes.  

  

On Tuesday, June 3rd SmartAsset will be introducing an interactive infographic that will dive into the details for each state and county.

Methodology  

As a bit of background on the methodology, SmartAsset answered 3 questions to determine which counties in the country were getting the best deal. These included: how good are the schools, how safe is the area and how much are the property taxes. This was evaluated by county.  

Only counties with populations greater than 50,000 people were counted in the nationwide rankings. Those with one or more of these data factors missing could not be ranked, so out of the 3,144 counties in the US about half of them were included in our list.

For some comparison, the average US county, with a population of 92,840, charges a 1.52 percent property tax rate, has schools ranked at 5.53, and sees 101.3 violent crimes and 826.6 property crimes per 100,000 people yearly.

About SmartAsset

SmartAsset makes life’s biggest decisions easier by bringing full transparency to the financial decision making process. It’s the Web’s first personal finance platform designed to empower people with highly personalized information and recommendations around major financial decisions. SmartAsset’s platform currently helps answer 79 questions including those related to life-changing financial decisions like home buying, going back to school, retirement planning and more. Founded in 2011, SmartAsset is based in New York and funded by Y Combinator, Javelin Venture Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and many others.

 
Governor Quinn Statement on Senate Passage of Minimum Wage Referendum Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Hickey   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:19

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today released the following statement regarding Illinois Senate passage of House Bill 3814, legislation that would place a question on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot asking voters if the state’s minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour by Jan. 1, 2015. The bill previously passed the Illinois House, and now heads to the Governor’s desk:

“This November, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to send a clear signal to lawmakers that we must have an economy that works for everyone.

“Raising the minimum wage will benefit hundreds of thousands of hardworking men and women across our state. Higher wages for employees means they will spend more at local businesses, which in turns boosts economic growth.

“As we work to build a majority to raise the minimum wage in Illinois, this referendum will help us get the job done.

“I thank Senator Kimberly Lightford and House Speaker Michael Madigan for sponsoring this important legislation. I look forward to signing it and letting the people’s voice be heard on this important issue.”

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Common Denominators for Success PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 08:01

7 Fun Tenets of Business that You Can Apply to Life
Straight-Talking Texas Entrepreneur Offers Principles that Transcend Industry

Within the first five years of a small-business venture, about half do not survive, according to the government’s Small Business Administration. And after 10 years, only  a third are still around.

“Successful entrepreneurship hits the bull’s eye of the American dream, but most simply do not make it,” says veteran Texas businessman David M. Smith, author of “The Texas Spirit,” (www.TheTexasSpiritBook.com).

“You don’t have to have extravagant wealth or a degree from Harvard to make it; a successful business requires essentially the same thing for a successful life – perspective.”

Smith reviews some common denominators for success.

•  Aim at nothing and you always hit it. “If you’re like me – perhaps with a touch of ADD and someone who wants to do too many things than you have time for – this is a helpful aphorism,” Smith says. Not every idea that comes to mind should be pursued; be very selective with your time, and when you go after something, go full-throttle.

•  You cannot win on the defensive in business or any other endeavor. Don’t think in terms of defense; instead, think of counterattack. To take a defensive position on anything means that you have conceded at least some of your position.

•  Work toward optimal employment for everyone in your company. “At least once a year, I have a one-on-one discussion with every person in our companies – a renegotiation to hopefully renew employment for a longer period,” he says. “This adds an important personal touch and attention to detail.” Of course, the same approach will offer an excellent return in your personal relationships, too.

•  Keep in mind Union Pacific’s motto: “Safety is my responsibility.” Safety should always rank high in your priorities; it’s easy to take it for granted until a catastrophe happens. Texmark celebrates more than 25 years without a production-halting accident – a remarkable record in the industry.

•  Organize projects, planning and profit action with at least three people, but never more than five. You need a point person for the meeting and at least two compatible partners – more than five people gums up the process. Meet weekly; the point man should set priorities and is most responsible for action.

•  People chemistry is more important than process chemistry. Just as you must have a process for making chemicals built around operating conditions that are best for the desired chemical products, so too should you have the right chemistry of people working together. The right chemistry is trickier than you think.

•  Promote voluntary participation regarding medical benefits and thrift and savings plans. It’s always best to put individuals in charge of their health and financial destiny – to let people consciously choose their plans. Monolithic systems arbitrarily imposed by institutions are the beginning of stagnated individual responsibility.

About David M. Smith

David M. Smith is the author of “The Texas Spirit,” www.TheTexasSpiritBook.com (2014; Halcyon Press). He’s the founder and owner of Chemical Exchange, Inc. and Texmark Chemicals of Galena Park, Texas. An El Paso native, he attended the University of Texas in Austin. Early in his career, he moved east to Houston and established himself in the petrochemical industry. His new book, “The Texas Spirit,” features a series of essays about the ways in which the United States can benefit from Texas’ example, including economic models and moral fiber.

 
Branstad signs the Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act into law PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:40

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today was joined by Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham as he signed the Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act into law. 

“Across Iowa we’re seeing record-breaking economic development projects that have resulted in more Iowans working than ever before in our state’s history,” said Branstad. “The projects, like Facebook’s Altoona data center, bring an increased demand for skilled tradespeople. The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act will ensure companies looking to expand or build in Iowa are met with a well-trained workforce.”

The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act, which expands access to apprenticeship training programs, was signed at Facebook’s Altoona data center site where  440 workers and more than 515,000 hours have been applied to the Facebook Altoona project alone.

“Economic development projects across Iowa since 2011 have brought quality, good-paying jobs to our communities,” said Reynolds. “In order to continue to attract these companies, and the jobs they bring with them, we must have a highly-skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of our growing economy. The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act will expand funding for apprenticeship training, help reduce student debt and provide Iowans the skills needed for a successful career.”  

 

The Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act does the following:

  • Allow students to earn while they learn, rather than taking on significant student debt.  They provide the apprentice with focused, hands-on training and a paycheck from day one.
  • The Governor’s plan triples funding for apprenticeships while reforming and improving the state’s apprenticeship program.
  • With over $8.8 billion in capital investments incentivized by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, demand for a skilled workforce has increased all across our state.
  • Nationwide, there are registered apprenticeships for more than 1,000 occupations, with programs impacting 250,000 employers and approximately 450,000 apprentices. In Iowa in FY13, there were 662 registered apprenticeship programs, and over 8,100 registered apprentices.

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How Financial Spring Cleaning Can Lead to a Richer Long-Term Outlook PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 23 May 2014 11:41
3 Areas to Consider for Increased Savings

One lesson the average American should have learned from the recent financial crisis and gradual recovery is that putting more money into savings is, in general, good, says veteran financial expert Jeff Gorton.

“When things are fine, most of us are prone to commit less of our money to savings; when the economy is down, however, we realize that having money is far more important than spending it on things we don’t need,” says Gorton, a veteran Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™, and head of Gorton Financial Group, (www.gortonfinancialgroup.com).

The personal savings rate in July 2005 hit an all-time low at just 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in May 2009, near the beginning of the recession, the average American’s savings rate hit a high of 8 percent.

“That rate dwindled as the economy recovered, which is unfortunate because you can do more with accumulated money, including benefit from investments yielding compound interest, which means that interest also earns interest in an investment,” says Gorton, who suggests practical ways to trim spending in the short term in order to get your financial house in order and accumulate more money in the long term.

•  Car buying says plenty about how a consumer views their money. For most Americans, the question is whether to buy new or used. The moment you drive a brand new car off the lot after the purchase, the car’s value drastically drops. Many of the benefits you may enjoy in buying a new car can be had with a certified pre-owned car: low miles, good-as-new functionality and, usually, that new-car smell. And, a given model will have a history, so you can avoid cars that have been recalled. Buying a certified pre-owned car will save you several thousands of dollars versus buying new.

•  Summer vacation is an important lifestyle enhancer for many couples, but consider replacing the $400-per-night hotel with a condo rented through a private owner, especially if your vacation will last for an extended period. A condo rental should cost you in the ballpark of $200 per night, which totals $2,800 savings for two weeks.

•  Your home is probably your most significant asset if you’re like most Americans. But with that grand house on the hill comes plenty of costs, many of which you may not need. As with a luxury car, rethinking the amount of luxury for a home can save you big on taxes, insurance and maintenance. The cost of maintaining a large home can be put toward lifestyle activities, such as travel and hobbies.

“Of course, these are all simply suggestions; money plays a major role in how we achieve happiness, and I’ve found through years of working with clients, a few tweaks here and there frequently yields greater satisfaction with their money,” Gorton says. “You don’t have to be on autopilot with your expenses.”

About Jeff Gorton, CPA, CFP®

Jeff Gorton is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner™ specializing in individual tax and retirement planning as head of Gorton Financial Group, (www.gortonfinancialgroup.com). He is also an Investment Advisor Representative under Alphastar Capital Management, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor, and has a life and health insurance license. Gorton works with individuals and their families to create and protect their financial legacies. He specializes in working with retirees in the areas of tax planning, benefits, retirement planning, estate planning and safe money techniques. He received his BBA in Accounting from the University of Oklahoma. Gorton previously worked for 10 years as the Chief Financial Officer for a large retail organization, overseeing their accounting, benefits and 401(k) retirement plans.

 
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