Business & Economy
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."


Old HoJo Site Moving Closer to Re-Development PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by T. Brecht   
Friday, 25 July 2014 08:38

Downtown's eyesore days are numbered: The former Howard Johnson will be demolished.

A wrecking ball will soon swing into the dilapidated walls of one of downtown Davenport's worst eyesores, making way for what the Downtown Davenport Partnership anticipates will go from long-time nuisance to "iconic structure".

Several developers are already anxious to pitch their ideas for the soon-to-open prime real estate at downtown's eastern gateway, said Kyle Carter, Executive Director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership. The partnership, which used its resources to purchase the property for $210,000 and turn it over to local non-profit Demolition Davenport, is putting the final touches on a Request for Proposals geared to find the best use possible for the high-visibility parcel.

The empty Howard Johnson hotel on the site has sat empty since 2009, earning it the dubious distinction of being one of downtown's most notorious blighted properties.

While multiple local developers have already expressed early interest, Carter said the RFPs will be distributed nationally, hopefully giving the Partnership a wide range of attractive options when picking a developer.

Downtown Partnership and City staff have a hiearchy of uses they'd like to see.  Number one is corporate office or Class A office space. The second choice is a mixed-use development with some Class A office combined with residential or commercial uses. The third and fourth choices are a business class hotel and market rate residential - either rental or owner occupied.

Carter said the push for office development is driven by a few factors. For one, most of the downtown building stock is older, historic businesses which are often difficult and expensive to convert into modern office use. Secondly, while the massive increase in new downtown market rate apartments has been good for business, office space drives up demand for daytime retail and commercial uses even more.

“For one, much of the downtown office space is historic with narrow column spacing, making it functionally obsolete for certain styles of corporate office design," Carter said. "New construction offers developers  a blank slate;  we have a real opportunity to add more variety to our commercial offerings downtown to suit users that are seeking more open space.”

The key is finding the righta balance of uses downtown, Carter added.

"We'll never be able to compete completely with greenfield office development because of cost. But we think we can find those companies that are the right fit; especially those that need young professionals who want to be in that urban environment."

Bruce Berger, Director of Community Planning & Economic Development in Davenport, said having the Partnership and a non-profit like demolition Davenport help assemble the property and prepare it is incredibly helpful. It takes out the fear of the unknown, especially unknown expenses, that can make developers uneasy and risk-averse, he said. Without spending any City of Davenport taxpayer money, the two entities have:

  • Completed environmental risk assessment reports
  • Solicited bids for demolition (the cost of which will borne by the developers)
  • Below-ground environmental and flood reports
  • Debris removal
  • Environmental mitigation (which will be underway this September)

The proposals that are received will be reviewed by the Downtown Davenport Partnership taskforce and ultimately voted upon by the Partnership's Board of Directors. The following criteria will be used to determine the best developer:

  • Experience, Qualifications and Expertise
  • Preferred Use Factors
  • Proposed Costs/Thoughtfulness of Bidg
  • Financial and Environmental Sustainability
  • Design Quality, Scale & Aesthetics (meets or exceeds City downtown design guidelines)
  • Thoroughness, and Responsiveness of Proposal

Carter expects the RFP to be issued this week with proposals due back Aug. 25. Interviews with finalists and the selection by the board would occur by the end of September.

Iowa Announces Statewide Launch of Get Skills to Work Coalition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 25 July 2014 08:31

The Institute hosts breakfast roundtable and job fair for veterans in manufacturing

(DAVENPORT) -  Today, Get Skills to Work, in partnership with The Manufacturing Institute, Home Base Iowa, the Alcoa Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will host Governor Terry Branstad and welcome Iowa as the third state to join the Get Skills to Work coalition. Get Skills to Work helps veterans get job-specific training or transition their military experience into rewarding careers in manufacturing.

“I am proud to support efforts such as Home Base Iowa, Get Skills to Work and Hiring Our Heroes. Each offers our veterans and transitioning service members every opportunity to successfully transition from military careers into the private sector,” said Governor Terry Branstad. “These efforts are opportunities to honor those who served and to strengthen our economy with a workforce that exemplifies hard work, teamwork, and discipline.”

The event begins with a breakfast roundtable for employers with local manufacturers and partners, including the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Alcoa Davenport Works, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, and Hiring our Heroes.

Following the roundtable, Governor Branstad will announce Iowa as the third state to join the Get Skills to Work coalition. By joining the coalition, Iowa continues to demonstrate its commitment to helping veterans transition from military to civilian life. In addition, the event will include a free workshop for veterans focused on resume writing, interview skills, and job search techniques for all military members and their spouses.

“We are excited to expand our Get Skills to Work program with Iowa’s statewide launch of the coalition. This program will help local manufacturers connect with skilled veterans ready to enter the civilian workforce,” Institute President Jennifer McNelly said.

The Get Skills to Work coalition includes more than 500 manufacturers, and it focuses on training veterans in manufacturing and helping them translate existing military skills into manufacturing careers. The Institute along with GE, Aloca, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, founded Get Skills to Work in October 2012, and together, the initiative has set a goal to reach 100,000 veterans by 2015. This program aims to train military veterans for advanced manufacturing careers, bolster the talent pipeline, and enhance American competitiveness.

The event will take place in the RiverCenter at 136 E. 3rd Street in Davenport, IA, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Speakers at the event include:                      

Mike Ralston, President, Iowa Association of Business Industry

Rob Woodall, Manufacturing Director, Alcoa Davenport Works

Dr. Don Doucette, Chancellor, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

Derek Hill, Brigadier General, Iowa ANG

Rob Schroder, Vice President, International Strategy and Operations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Brent Weil, Senior Vice President, The Manufacturing Institute.

For more information, please visit


About The Manufacturing Institute 

The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a non-partisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation's manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit




Aerial Advertising for Businesses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 12:51

3 Ways to Get Your Audience Engaged with Your Brand This Summer
Marketing Strategies Should Adapt to Fit the Season, Says Skywriting CEO

It’s summertime and whether or not people have vacation time to spare, they still behave accordingly, says advertising entrepreneur Patrick Walsh.

“Small business owners, non-profit organizers and anyone else trying to market a brand should take advantage of what makes this season special,” says Walsh, CEO of AirSign Aerial Advertising, (, a company that has re-imagined skywriting.

“While workers in the United States take far less vacation time than in most other developed economies, we still like to hit the beach and anywhere else with water, visit the park and grill outside with the family,” he says. “With the kids out of school, many choose to take their days off during this time of year.”

So, how can entrepreneurs tailor their message for a summertime audience? Walsh offers advice from past experience.

•  Don’t be afraid to think big and beyond your handheld device. Earlier this year, during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, Walsh and his crew of pilots teamed up with artist Ben Davis for a public display of art dubbed “Pi in the Sky,” to commemorate National Pi Day on 3/14. Pi is that infinite, enigmatic mathematical equation beginning with 3.14. Walsh’s team of five synchronized aircraft spent more than 90 minutes printing out hundreds of numbers, each as tall as a skyscraper, in the pi sequence in a “painting” that covered 100 miles of airspace. Walsh and Davis garnered national exposure in newspapers, on TV and on the radio.

“This was the perfect cerebral display for the young, hip and entrepreneurial crowd attending SXSW,” Walsh says. “Research potentially important summer dates and the cultural background of your target demographic.”

•  Now, think within your little device – be interactive! With the help of Walsh’s social media team, #PiInTheSky was created and shared on Twitter days before “Pi in the Sky” display. Walsh’s planes spelled it out before beginning the Pi sequence, which allowed the social media team to control the message. People quickly figured out that using #PiInTheSky in their tweets and Instagram photo posts allowed them to share the experience with thousands of other people. Between the interactive campaign and the city-sized performance in the sky, AirSign’s #PiInTheSky trended on Twitter at No. 2 nationwide on the day of the display and No. 1 in Austin for 24 hours, which captured the attention of the national media.

“Of course, this was pretty spectacular and took all kinds of planning, but we pulled it off!” Walsh says. “You don’t have to go as big as we did to pull off something spectacular for your marketing efforts – but it does have to be interesting.”

•  A step farther in knowing your audience: know who they are now. Grocery stores know how to move product. One strategy is to offer, during lunch and dinner hours, free samples of products they’re trying to sell. If your audience is less predictable than the day’s natural hunger cycles, then consider tracking the mood of your clientele via social media. If a major event is happening within your market, such as a summer concert series, position your brand to be part of the event.

“What’s it like to be the people you’re trying to attract? That’s the question entrepreneurs constantly need to ask themselves,” Walsh says. “Novel marketing strategies – or even those that are fairly straightforward – have the power to bypass the bargaining psychology of typical advertising by going straight to an audience’s imagination.”

About Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh is the CEO of AirSign Inc., (, which, through the use of giant full-color airplane and helicopter banners, skywriting, digital night signs and blimps, produces show-stopping campaigns. The company recently received global recognition for its artistic skywriting display of several hundred pi characters over the 2014 South by Southwest festival. Walsh is a veteran entrepreneur.

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