Business & Economy
Award Winning Workplace Culture Program Used as Workforce Recruitment Tool in Eastern Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Eric Hanson   
Saturday, 13 December 2014 10:57

ICAD Group’s Workplace Culture Initiative Wins Economic Development Award
TEAM Centered Workplace Concept Gaining More Members

The Mid-America Economic Development Council presented its annual Economic Development awards at the 2014 Mid-America Competitiveness Conference & Site Selector Forum, held December 7-9 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago, and the Iowa City Area Development (ICAD) Group Received First Place in the Business Retention and Expansion Category for their entry “Making Iowa City and Iowa’s Creative Corridor a Hub for Workplace Culture.”

Mark Nolte, ICAD Group’s President, said this initiative stems from data collected through its annual existing industry survey.  “As we came out of the recession, we started to see a greater divide among area companies struggling for workers, losing workforce, and those who had unfavorable opinions on local workforce, versus companies that were seeing year-over-year growth,” said Nolte.  “In fact, we noticed that companies that were showing high value and low risk scores were also receiving accolades as some of the “fastest growing” and “best places to work” in our region, so workplace culture became a priority.”

In June of 2013, ICAD Group launched a series of workplace culture programs to help employers realize that today's workers have a choice in companies, locations and communities, and culture plays a key role.

Included in that programming were visits from Hagie Manufacturing, an agriculture implement manufacturer in Clarion, Iowa, to share their story of transformational culture and rethinking the work environment to attract talented people; promoting World Blu’s “Democtratic Workplaces” certification for companies in the region (3 area companies were certified this past year); and the full-day Workplace (R)evolution conference, held this past summer in Cedar Rapids, that attracted attendees representing more than 70 companies from throughout Iowa’s Creative Corridor.

Plans are in place for Workplace (R)evolution 2015 in Iowa City and a workplace culture educational series at Kirkwood Community College. Additionally, a workplace culture coalition has since formed in the region known as TEAM, a concept promoted by ICAD Group and Diversity Focus.  With TEAM, companies declare their intent to become TEAM Centered Workplaces and work toward greater internal collaboration and employee autonomy, through Trust, Enjoyment, Accountability and Managing the Whole Person.

Linda Barnes, Vice President of Organizational Agility for Geonetric, says creating a great workplace culture is critical to attracting and retaining top employees. “ICAD Group’s TEAM concept brings that to life,” said Barnes. “Being part of a coalition that meets monthly to share ideas and practices is invaluable as we grow our company here in the Corridor.”

The TEAM Centered Workplace coalition currently consists of 24 regional employers and continues to add new members monthly.  Participating employers are in varied disciplines, from banking to educational testing, software design to advanced manufacturing, with operations/offices in all seven counties of Iowa’s Creative Corridor.

“When MediRevv first learned about the TEAM initiative founded by our partners at ICAD Group, we immediately saw the value to our organization as well as the opportunity to our Creative Corridor community,” added Brad Baldwin, Vice President of Operations at MediRevv.  “The ideals of the TEAM initiative are foundational to building the human capital it takes to win in our business.  While our mindset at MediRevv was already geared towards these principles, the TEAM initiative has allowed us to continue our momentum and share the ROI of our investments we experienced internally with our community partners.”

Companies looking to learn more about TEAM Centered Workplaces can visit www.icadgroup.com/team.

 
FAA Grants Woolpert Exemption to Fly Unmanned Aircraft in Ohio PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jocelyn Hodson   
Saturday, 13 December 2014 10:48

Allows company for first time to fly unmanned aerial system (UAS) commercially for data collection

DAYTON, Ohio, December 10, 2014 — Woolpert, Inc., a national geospatial, infrastructure management and design firm  specializing in high-tech mapping and imagery collection services, has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly its unmanned aerial system commercially in Ohio and Ship Island, Miss. This exemption comes after years of research and development as well as close coordination with the FAA. This grant of exemption by the FAA marks the first for a surveying and aerial mapping company to be approved to fly a UAS commercially in designated airspace.

“Woolpert has been providing surveying and mapping services for more than 50 years, with a focused commitment on the advancement of related technologies and processes. UAS technology will enable a revolutionary leap in terms of capability, repeatability and efficiency when it comes to monitoring and mapping services,” said Jeff Lovin, Woolpert senior vice president. “UAS will change the way we conduct some of our existing business in the not-too-distant future, but more importantly, will create completely new and world-changing applications we haven’t even thought of yet.”

The data applications with a UAS are far reaching and range from rapid damage assessment and emergency response to surveying and mapping of energy and transportation corridors, construction monitoring, environmental studies andprecision agriculture, which could be impactful national disaster recovery to individual farmers. “The data we will be able to collect in Ohio through this exemption will serve as the foundation for a proof of concept on a number of national applications for UAS,” said Matt Hutchinson, Ph.D., Woolpert associate and research scientist, “and we look forward to offering this new technology and its applications to benefit organizations across the U.S.”

This exemption marks a significant milestone for the state of Ohio. With its aviation heritage, Ohio has made huge strides to lead the charge in developing training centers, technologies, data processing techniques and advanced applications related to UAS. By securing the exemption from the FAA, Woolpert contributes to this effort by advancing Ohio and the Dayton region as a leader in developing exciting new uses for UAS with the potential for substantial industry growth.

To date, the FAA has received 167 requests for exemption.

About Woolpert

Woolpert, ranked by Engineering News-Record as a top national design firm, provides professional design, geospatial and infrastructure services to clients in the public and private sectors. Founded in 1911, and with more than 600 professionals in 22 offices located throughout the U.S., Woolpert’s collaborative and multidisciplinary approach is driven by great people, great clients and great projects. For more information on Woolpert, visit Woolpert’s website.

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IRS Pension Update: New Limits for 2015 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jason Alderman   
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 15:36

Is it ever too late to plan for retirement? No, as long as you're willing to be thrifty and extend your working years and be mindful of your individual and employer-based retirement savings options. Building a successful, comfortable retirement depends on a variety of individual factors, including where you live, how long you plan to work, your health and your other investments and assets.

The IRS recently announced an update for your options, including cost-of-living adjustments that will give many taxpayers the advantage of putting more away during 2015. Here's a summary:

  • Regular contribution limits for 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal employee Thrift Savings Plan. Increased from $17,500 (for tax year 2014) to $18,000 (for tax year 2015). The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 in these plans is increased from $5,500 to $6,000. Contribution deadline: Dec. 31.
  • Annual contribution limits, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). For both traditional and Roth IRAs, the annual contribution limit is not subject to a cost-of-living adjustment and remains at $5,500. The over-50 catch-up contribution amount is $1,000. There are particular restrictions (http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/index.html) based on income levels, workplace retirement plan coverage among other issues. Contribution deadline: April 15.
  • Higher 2015 income phase-out levels for traditional IRA contributions. For singles covered by a workplace retirement plan, the 2015 cutoff is now increased to a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) between $61,000 and $71,000. The IRS website details other significant increases and updates in phase-out levels for married couples and singles.
  • Higher 2015 income phase-out levels for Roth IRA contributions. The IRS website also updates higher phase-out levels for married and single taxpayers on its website. For married couples filing jointly, the 2015 level is now $183,000 to $193,000.

Here's what you can do if you're in your 50s and you haven't yet saved much for retirement:

  • Get qualified financial advice. Organizations such as the Association for Financial Counseling Planning and Education (http://members.afcpe.org/search), Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards list qualified financial advisors, and your state CPA society can suggest tax professionals in your area.
  • Budget and downsize. Want to retire? Start living like a retiree while you're still working. Most experts believe late starters (50 and over) need to put away at least 10 percent of gross income to start making headway. Create a realistic budget, trim debt and consider cheaper housing, transportation and lifestyle options.
  • Take advantage of "catch-up" contribution limits. Retirement savers over the age of 50 have the option to put more away not only in traditional and Roth IRAs but also 401(k) plans – not including SIMPLE 401(k)s, 403(b) plans, SARSEP and 457(b) plans (see Annual contribution limits, IRAs above).
  • Keep working…strategically. If you're lucky, you love your work or are in a position to change careers to one with better retirement savings options. If so, consult an expert on ways to keep earning and investing effectively.

Bottom line: The government's cost-of-living adjustments will allow you to save more for retirement in 2015, but don't wait until then to evaluate your goals to set – or reset – your retirement planning going forward.

 
Add Sparkle to Your Holidays with Me&Ro PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by David Balluff   
Monday, 08 December 2014 12:06

Newly opened retail boutique L&D15 brings a bit of exclusive celebrity bling to the Quad Cities for the holidays with a stunning jewelry collection from New York designer Me&Ro.

Me&Ro has developed a strong celebrity following throughout the years including Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Kate Moss, Sheryl Crow, and Mary-Louise Parker among others. Me&Ro can be seen on the pages of many magazines including W, InStyle, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour, Town & Country, and Vogue.

The Me&Ro collection at L&D15 consists of men's and women's jewelry in sterling silver and 10K gold, adorned with rubies, black diamonds and other precious and semi-precious stones.  We have selected pendants, rings and cuff links with a lot of character for the guys, while the women's pieces are more delicate, and include earrings, bracelets and pendant necklaces stamped with floral and lotus petal motifs.

Me&Ro's art is inspired by the human need both to adorn and to communicate through jewelry. Equally important is the power jewelry has to express the human values of strength, love, and faith. Me&Ro emphasizes the wear-ability of its designs, even when working with materials that verge on excessive. Known for its stackable rings, hammered bangles, personal amulets, and hoops of all sizes, Me&Ro pursues an aesthetic of simple beauty.

L&D15 brings a new style of retail to the Quad Cities, highlighting both local and international artists and designers. L&D15 has exclusive retail arrangements with a number of high profile designers, including Me&Ro, NYC clothing designers Peter Hidalgo and San & Soni and fashion illustrator Jeffrey Fulvimari.

Me&Ro is a New York City based jewelry design company founded in the summer of 1991. Inducted into the CFDA in 2008, designer and CEO Robin Renzi continues to express herself through the art of making jewelry. All Me&Ro jewelry is 100% made in New York City.

L&D15 is located at 520 West 2nd St. in downtown Davenport, and is open daily from 10am - 7pm. For more information, visit us at http://landd15.com. More information on Me&Ro is available at http://www.meandrojewelry.com.

 
Iowans push for biodiesel tax incentive on Capitol Hill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Iowa Biodiesel Board   
Monday, 08 December 2014 11:24

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several Iowans, including leaders of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Soybean Association, are in the nation’s capital today drumming up support for the biodiesel tax incentive.

The National Biodiesel Board organized a Washington, D.C. Fly-in to lobby for reinstatement of the $1-per-gallon biodiesel blenders tax credit, which expired on Dec. 31, 2013. The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a package of tax incentives retroactively for 2014 on Wednesday night that includes the credit and other deductions that would benefit farmers and Iowa’s economy.

The measure now moves to the Senate. NBB officials say if the one-year package passes, any 2015 discussions will be punted to next year.

Biodiesel supporters say the fly-in couldn’t have come at a better time to help ensure passage. State soybean leaders and biodiesel advocates met with their U.S. senators and representatives or key aids to explain why the biodiesel credit is needed, along with other provisions in the bill.

“We had good meetings. Everyone is supportive,” said Grant Kimberley, IBB executive director. “While we were hoping for a multi-year extension, something is better than nothing. But there’s still uncertainty going forward.

This is the fourth time in the last six years the credit has expired for America's Advanced Biofuel.

“Federal policy is important to compete in an established industry,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s hard to make investments and grow.”

Kimberley, Karey Claghorn, ISA chief operating officer and T.J. Page of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association led the Iowa delegation. Others include Bill Horan, Jeff Johannesmeyer and Denny Mauser of Western Iowa Energy and Tom Brooks of Western Dubuque Biodiesel.

Even though Iowa lawmakers support renewable fuels and agriculture, Kimberley said it’s important to thank them for their support and arm them with information so they can talk to colleagues about why the credit is important. Recently elected lawmakers were sent letters on the topic, he said.

“With the uncertainty of the RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) and low commodity prices, it’s absolutely critical Congress moves forward with the extenders bill to help biodiesel continue to diversify the nation's energy supply and provide economic benefits,” Kimberley said. “We do know that Iowa biodiesel plants aren’t running at capacity and some have reduced staff. We’re not maximizing our potential.”

The Iowa Biodiesel Board is a nonpartisan state trade association representing the biodiesel industry.

 
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