Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015
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The Gazette Company sells KCRG to Gray Television

KCRG-TV9, the Cedar Rapids-based ABC affiliate that has been part of The Gazette Company since it went on the air in 1953, has been sold to a publicly traded broadcasting company in a $100 million all-cash purchase.
 
Gray Television closed on its purchase of most of KCRG-TV9's non-licensed assets on Tuesday, and expects to close on the station's remaining assets in the fourth quarter of 2015 following receipt of FCC and other approvals.
 
Atlanta-based Gray Television (GTN:NYSE) pointed to KCRG's No. 1 market ranking, and said the transaction reinforces its growth strategy of acquiring high-quality assets in attractive markets with the same values and record of success as its existing stations.
 
"With this very strong foundation and a great staff, we are confident that Gray's backing will propel KCRG-TV9 to even greater success in the future," said Hilton Howell Jr., Gray president and CEO, in a press release.
 
Gray Television approached The Gazette Company with an offer to buy KCRG-TV9, which it was initially not looking to sell, according to Gazette CEO Chuck Peters. He said the company's board had to take the offer seriously.
 
"It was both a fair price and a buyer that is about as philosophically aligned [with The Gazette Company] as you can get," Mr. Peters told the CBJ.
 
The Gazette had long been privately owned by a group that included the Hladky family of Cedar Rapids and others, but was sold several years ago to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in a move said to provide tax advantages and opportunities for employees to benefit directly from the company's success.
 
KCRG-TV9 has about 130 employees, or 107 full-time equivalent positions. Mr. Peters said Gray is expected to post a new position for general manager, but will welcome applications from existing staff. Otherwise, no immediate personnel changes were expected.
 
Gray recently netted $176 million from a public stock offering primarily intended for acquisitions, which have recently included stations in Odessa, Texas, and Presque Isle, Maine.
 
Mr. Peters said The Gazette will be looking to invest in other companies with proceeds from the KCRG-TV9 sale. He added that The Gazette is now an ESOP company looking for growth opportunities, rather than a media company, and that most of the investments it is expected to consider are outside media.
 
Following completion of the purchase, Gray will be in 46 television markets broadcasting over 160 program streams with multiple network affiliations. The $100 million purchase price represents a multiple of 6.9 times the blended average of the station's 2015 through 2016 pro forma broadcast cash flow, according to Gray, and will immediately be positive to the company's free cash flow.

Group Benefits Ltd. expands to Cedar Rapids
      
Urbandale-based Group Benefits Ltd. (GBL) today announced its opening of a branch office in Cedar Rapids. As the largest general health insurance agency in the state, GBL serves as the marketing division and back office for 2,000 independent insurance agents who represent over 3,000 employer groups and 70,000 individual clients, the company stated in a press release.

Establishing a regional office in Cedar Rapids will enable more Eastern Iowa agents to access the health care reform tools and marketing resources offered by the company. In addition, agents can seek out additional selling opportunities by partnering with GBL, including earning commissions on lines of business outside their areas of expertise.

"We have contemplated expansion for some time now and all the variables finally aligned. We've seen continuous growth, and with the challenging Affordable Care Act landscape, recognized the need to provide more localized support to independent agents on the eastern side of Iowa," said Brian Hewitt, GBL president and CEO, in a press release.

Cedar Rapids businessman Dave Ver Woert has been named the new regional vice president and will run the Cedar Rapids office. Mr. Ver Woert has more than 30 years of industry experience and spent the last 24 years leading the benefits division of a Midwest agency.

Marty Oliva will also be based out of the Cedar Rapids location as a group employee benefit specialist. His main purpose will be to assist independent agents who are looking to work in the group market as well as assisting with all group-related issues. Other positions being filled at the Cedar Rapids office include an account manager, with further roles to come as needs require.

The new office is located at 260 33rd Ave. SW, Ste. J.

UI Venture School returns this fall
 
The University of Iowa will bring its Venture School program back to Iowa City this fall. Venture School is a six to seven week program designed to accelerate the business startup process through real-world experimentation and immediate feedback.
 
The UI provides three Venture School options to serve each type of entrepreneur. A Student Accelerator Program lasts for nine weeks over the summer, and a community program is also available. The third option and latest addition to Venture School is the Faculty Innovators Program, a shortened, four-week version of Venture School that serves as a gateway for university faculty members to advance to the national level with the NSF I-Corps program.
 
Informational sessions will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 at the North Liberty CoLab, 9 a.m. Sept. 16 during 1MillionCups at FilmScene, and noon Sept. 16 at the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building.
 
The program will kick off Oct. 21, with workshops held through Nov. 24. To apply, visit www.iowajpec.org/venture-school/ . The application deadline is Sept. 20.

Coralville West Land Use Area public input meeting to be held Sept. 9
  
Coralville community planners will host a presentation and discussion Sept. 9 at Coralville City Hall, 1512 Seventh St., to continue the public input process for the Coralville West Land Use Area Plan that began earlier this year.
 
The roughly 2,000-acre parcel is located between Interstate 380 and Coral Ridge Avenue/Highway 965, south of Forevergreen Road and north of Interstate 80. The area presently includes the Heartland Industrial Park, the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, large-lot single family homes along Forevergreen Road and an approximately 280-unit mobile home park north of Highway 6.
 
The meeting will include information on the land use plan, master plan and design guidelines. The format will include an open house for individual discussion, comments and questions from 4:30-5 p.m., a presentation at 5 p.m., and continued time for questions from 6-6:30 p.m.

Veterans come to Corridor for TEE Tournament
 
Veterans from across the United States will arrive in the Corridor next week for the 2015 National Disabled Veterans TEE Tournament (NDVTEE). The tournament will take place Sept. 7-11 at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, along with five local area golf courses including Blue Top Ridge, Lake MacBride, Kalona, West Liberty and Elks Country Club.
 
Presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs, this event is hosted by the local Iowa City VA Medical Center and supported by more than 300 VA and community volunteers.
 
The NDVTEE Tournament, previously a local activity for visually impaired veterans, became one of the VA's six national rehabilitation programs in 2008. Since becoming a national program, the NDVTEE Tournament is now offered to all U.S. military veterans with visual impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, certain neurological conditions, spinal cord injuries and other disabilities, who receive care in any VA health care facility. The event uses a therapeutic format to promote rehabilitation, fellowship and camaraderie among its participants, and encourages veterans to develop new skills and strengthen their self-esteem. More than 350 veterans registered for the 2015 event.
 
After the tournament, the staff, volunteers and remaining participants will attend a special flag-raising ceremony on Sept. 11 to commemorate 9/11, which occurred during the TEE Tournament in 2001.
Headlines from CBS 2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS 2/FOX 28
 
Cedar Rapids is taking steps to become more accessible to people with disabilities. The work started after a settlement with the federal government involving the Americans with Disabilities Act. Twelve Cedar Rapids parks and centers were mentioned in settlement documents, including Veterans Memorial Stadium, Noelridge Park, Cherry Hill Aquatic Center, Cedar Rapids Ice Arena and Fire Station No. 7. Some restrooms also have to be rearranged in order to accommodate people with wheelchairs. The city will have four years to complete the upgrades. One local disability group says they are willing to help the city wherever possible.
 
The fate of elementary students in the Highland Community School District in Washington County will soon be in the hands of voters. If a bond issue on Sept. 8 passes, it would bring together the Ainsworth and Riverside Elementary Schools to a central location by the high school, which the district said would help with technology efforts. Superintendent Chris Armstrong said the Iowa Communications Network only allows for one data connection for each school district.
 
Linn County and Hobart Historic Restoration have officially closed on the sale of the Mott Building in downtown Cedar Rapids. The Mott Building sits behind the Cedar Rapids Police Department along the Cedar River and was damaged in the 2008 floods. Hobart's redevelopment plans for the building include mixed-use residential and commercial space.


These news items are provided by CBS 2/FOX 28 

CBS 2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' 
Weather First Forecast

There will be no discernible changes in our warm and humid weather until Labor Day thanks to a stagnant upper air pattern blanketing the Midwest. Highs through Sunday will remain in the upper 80s to near 90. Overnight lows will dip to the upper 60s with plenty of humidity. Little in the way of rain is expected until Sunday night or Monday.
Today's Headlines

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Upcoming Events
 
Sept. 2
Siren Wednesday, by ImpactCR, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Sauce Bar & Bistro, 1507 C St. SW, Cedar Rapids. ImpactCR Siren Wednesdays aim to connect young professionals in the Corridor in a relaxed atmosphere. Bring a friend and meet some new faces. Free.
 
 
Sept. 3
Wake Up Marion - Goodwill of the Heartland, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 8-9 a.m., Goodwill of the Heartland, 1441 Blairs Ferry Road NE, Marion. Start your day with the opportunity to meet other Marion Chamber members and community leaders while enjoying coffee. This event is open to all Marion Chamber members and first-time guests. Free. To register, email tami@marioncc.org .

SPONSORSHIPS AVAILABLE:
Reach the Corridor's business leaders by email with a sponsorship of the Daily News Update. For more information, contact Andrea Rhoades at rhonda@corridorbusiness.com
or (319) 887-2251, ext. 313.