Business & Economy
Bipartisan Braley Amendment Protecting Manufacturing Jobs in Marshalltown Passes US House PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 25 June 2012 07:39

Amendment would reverse regulation threatening Marshalltown refrigeration manufacturer

Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan amendment written by Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) that would remove burdensome government regulations on refrigerated deli-style display cases that threaten the future of their manufacture in the United States was adopted by the US House today.

Lennox Industries, Inc., which makes the deli-style display cases covered by the regulation, has a manufacturing facility in Marshalltown, Iowa, that employs about 1,000 people.  The adoption of the amendment will help protect Iowa manufacturing jobs.

“When government regulations defy common sense and put jobs at risk, it’s time for a change,” Braley said.  “With their regulation, the Department of Energy has effectively outlawed refrigerated display cases found in grocery stores and delis.  The regulation is unfair and harmful to manufacturing in Iowa and America.


“The bipartisan amendment adopted today will reverse this misguided regulation and protect Iowa jobs.  I’m proud to work across the aisle with Representative Westmoreland to pass this common sense solution that won support from both parties.”

The problem remedied by the amendment stems from the federal government’s interpretation of a 2005 law that increases energy efficiency standards for appliances.  The Department of Energy believed it was required by the law to include refrigerated deli display cases in the same category as standard refrigerators.  However, the inherent design of such display cases makes it impossible for the equipment to reach the minimum efficiency standards set forth for refrigerators in the 2005 law, effectively outlawing their manufacture in the United States.

Braley and Westmoreland’s Better Use of Refrigerator Regulations Amendment creates a new energy efficiency category for refrigerated deli-style display cases, effectively reversing the regulation and safeguarding the product’s continued manufacture in Marshalltown and other locations in the US.

The amendment was added to HR 4480, the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012, by a unanimous, bipartisan voice vote.

A copy of the Better Use of Refrigerator Regulations Amendment can be downloaded at the following link:

A photo of the refrigerated deli-style display cases manufactured by Lenox can be viewed below:


LIIRefrigeration_ServiceDeli2 (2)


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Braley Outlines Vision for Energy Jobs in 2012 Food, Farm and Jobs Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:27

Braley introduces legislation implementing feedback from Iowa listening sessions

Washington, DC – After hosting ten Food, Farm and Jobs Bill listening sessions over the past month, including two last Monday with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) incorporated feedback from the sessions into new legislation introduced this week to boost rural energy jobs.  Braley joined lead sponsor Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) and Reps. Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) to introduce the bill.

“The Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is the single most important bill in Congress this year affecting Iowa jobs and the Iowa economy,” Braley said.  “The energy provisions of the Farm Bill are especially critical because they provide a roadmap for innovation in Iowa’s agriculture economy.


“We’ve introduced the Rural Energy Investment Act to provide a vision for this aspect of the Farm Bill and to ensure agriculture energy investments don’t get swept under the rug in the Farm Bill debate.  These programs will create jobs in Iowa and provide a boost in demand for Iowa agriculture products.”

The Rural Energy Investment Act outlines a vision for energy jobs in the 2012 Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, renewing and expanding several vital agriculture energy programs that create jobs in Iowa.  Highlights of the bill include:

·         Renews and streamlines the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides financial assistance to ag producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make cost-saving energy efficiency improvements.

·         Renews and expands the Biobased Markets Program, requiring the federal government to increase their commitment to purchasing biobased products like cleaners, lubricants, building materials, and other industrial products by 50 percent.  This will help reduce the use of products made with Middle East oil and boosts the market for Midwest corn and soybean-based products.

·         Renews and streamlines the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which provides incentives to ag producers to find new uses for biomass by-products like corn stover.

Starting last month, Braley has hosted a series of ten Food, Farm and Jobs Bill listening sessions across eastern Iowa.  The listening sessions have taken Braley to Grinnell, Independence, Manchester, Marshalltown, Strawberry Point, Toledo, and Vinton.  Braley joined USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at listening session events in Maquoketa and Cedar Rapids last Monday

The full text of the Rural Energy Investment Act can be downloaded at the following link:

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Defending Debt – Why It’s Good PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:07

When it comes to the best ways to use money, too many Americans operate under a key misconception, says investment adviser and financial planner Ike Ikokwu.

“Money is opportunity, and having a blind spot for maximizing investment can drastically reduce one’s future options,” says Ikokwu, author of Winning the Money Game: Separating the Myths from the Truth (

That blind spot is debt, he says. Just as Americans have learned that are such things as good fats and good cholesterol, so too is there good debt for a prosperous financial future.

“The three most common ways people in this country get rich all involve using debt,” he says. “They use it to launch businesses, invest in real estate, or pay for advanced degrees in order to become high-income earners.”

Some myths born from the idea that all debt is bad include:

• Paying off your home mortgage provides financial security.
• A 15-year mortgage is always the quickest way to pay off your home.
• Putting money in your 401K or other qualified plan saves you taxes.
• The stock market is the only place to generate high, double-digit returns.

Admonishments to “stay out of debt” prevent people from gaining financial independence, Ikokwu says. Investing in education, a new career in another state or a new business may be more lucrative than paying down a mortgage.

“My definition of being ‘debt-free’ is to have enough money so that you can pay off your debt at any time – if you need to,’’ he says. “But you don’t necessarily want to do that. Good debt can save you money on taxes, increase your investment gains and allow you to take advantage of wealth-building opportunities. Bad debt, on the other hand, is like having a big hole in your money bucket.”

Ikokwu developed a new personal financial plan after a period of successful investing imploded following the market crash in 2001. After filing for bankruptcy in 2003, he rebuilt his wealth – using his new plan – in five years. Today he is financially independent and his wealth secure.

“To a greater extent than many Americans suppose, money is plastic,” he says. “That means you do not have to be rich in order to gain more wealth, and we do not have to follow old, outdated paths. We can all mold the money we have to a shape that yields better return.”

About Ike Ikokwu

Ike Ikokwu, “The Financial Independence Coach,” is a CPA, CFP and registered investment adviser. He holds a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in personal financial planning. Ikokwu is president and CEO of Winning the Money Game with Ike, a tax and financial advisory firm in Cumming, Ga. While working for “Big 6” tax firms and buying real estate, Ikokwu funneled his profits into domestic and international investments, only to realize too late that they were Ponzi schemes. Forced to declare personal bankruptcy in 2003, he rebuilt his wealth by changing his approach to finances. Tune into Atlanta’s WGUN-1010 (AM) at 11 a.m. Saturdays for his weekly show.

Iowa receives A for manufacturing PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Marc Ransford   
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:57
Manufacturing nationally enjoyed a robust year as growth in many sectors accelerated from the already strong manufacturing recovery of 2010-11. But the impact varies from state to state, says a report from Ball State University, depending on several factors.

The 2012 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card, an in-depth analysis from Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research, grades all 50 states, on how they handled those factors.

Iowa named received the following grades:
Manufacturing: A
Logistics: B
Human Capital: B
Worker Benefit Costs: C
Tax Climate: D-
Expected Liability Gap: B-
Global Reach: C
Sector Diversification: C-
Productivity and Innovation: C

CBER director Michael Hicks says manufacturing roared back in many states in the last year, but he anticipates a slow down as worker productivity gains outstrip demand.

"In the short run, the trend will be exacerbated by the very high probability of a U.S. recession in 2012-13," Hicks says. "The rapidly slowing European, Chinese, Indian and Brazilian economies will place heavy pressure on firms to maintain their exports. A marked decline in U.S. exports is already in progress, and alone will deepen a slowdown already being felt across much of the country. The uncertainty surrounding financial markets will be with us for many months, depressing investment and new hiring. "

CBER prepared the report at the request of Conexus Indiana, the state's advanced manufacturing initiative. It is available at <> .

At the top of the class with A's were Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas and Iowa. At the bottom, with F's were Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico and Nevada.

New to the report this year is an analysis of an expected liability gap. State and local governments throughout the U.S. purchase bonds for infrastructure improvement and provide pensions and health care for workers. Typically a dedicated revenue stream pays for these bonds from local or state finances. Pension obligations are typically funded in an actuarially evaluated fund.

Hicks says many states have failed to provide a direct funding stream to bond obligations or to fully fund pension plans, which leads to unfunded bond and pension liabilities. These unfunded liabilities represent an expected state fiscal liability gap, which is a good indicator of the direction of future taxes and public services.

To measure the expected liability gap, the report includes data on unfunded liability per capita and percentage of GDP, average benefits, and bond rankings.

For more information, contact Hicks at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >  or 765-716-3625.

Insurance agencies recognized by Grinnell Mutual PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Mallory Bradshaw   
Monday, 18 June 2012 14:40

Beert-McCoy Insurance Agency receives recognition from Grinnell Mutual

Beert-McCoy Insurance Agency of Eldridge, Iowa, is the recipient of an Award of Excellence from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company of Grinnell, Iowa.  This award recognizes 15 years of outstanding achievement in the insurance profession and superior performance for Grinnell Mutual.

Receiving the award are Robin Beert, Bill McCoy, Sandra Peitersen, and Trudy Beert.

Arp Insurance recognized by Grinnell Mutual

Brent Arp of Arp Insurance of Walcott, Iowa, was presented with an Award of Excellence from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company of Grinnell, Iowa.  This award recognizes five years of outstanding achievement in the insurance profession and superior performance for Grinnell Mutual.

For more information please contact:

Brent Arp
Arp Insurance
Phone: 563-284-6244
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, in business since 1909, provides reinsurance for farm mutual insurance companies and property and casualty insurance products for homeowners, farmowners and businessowners through more than 1,600 independent agents in 12 Midwestern states. Grinnell Mutual is the largest primary reinsurer of farm mutual companies in North America.


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