LMC Insurance and Risk Management of West Des Moines has announced plans for the Employer Coalition, a new health insurance pool to help medium-sized Iowa employers manage insurance costs.

The Iowa Employer Coalition will be for employers with between 51-500 employees, and will be underwritten by Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa, LMC officials said. Employers in the pool will be able to choose from a variety of plans, but will be part of a larger pool of employees for actuarial purposes, meaning rates are unlikely to skyrocket just because one or a small group of employees in a company have high claims in a year.

"Think of a coalition of employers working together, doing something together to try to address health care costs," said Rick DeBartolo, senior vice president of LMC. "We want them to feel like they're running it. LMC is going to bring them ideas and decide what makes sense to implement with their employees."

Mr. DeBartolo said LMC brainstormed approaches last spring with Wellmark "for what I call the most frustrated segment of the market," which are medium-sized employers too small to self-insure, but with a pool large enough that they are rated on claims experience. He said the approach borrows many features from an insurance pool LMC administers with the Iowa Hospital Association for the state's rural hospitals.

Not every employer will be able to participate because the pool will have baseline requirements for employer contributions to health insurance costs. The pool hopes to have 10 employers signed up when it starts in January. Mr. DeBartolo said LMC will be looking at companies seeking long-term strategies for controlling costs, because it will take two or three years to begin to see the financial savings.

Additional information is available at
R Real Success with Nate Kaeding: Michelle Bates

In the latest CBJ exclusive video, former pro athlete and Corridor entrepreneur Nate Kaeding sits down with Michelle Bates, the founder of Coralville's BluPrairie and now chief innovation officer with Involta, to discuss the art of scheduling and customer service. Read the latest installment of Real Success with Nate Kaeding, and watch the exclusive video, presented by West Bank,  here
The former Guaranty Bank building, which is now nearly vacant
Heart of America Group (HOA) has cleared a hurdle in its quest to redevelop two historic downtown Cedar Rapids properties into hotels and a Johnny's Italian Steakhouse.

HOA is proposing to convert the first floor of the Guaranty Bank building at the northeast corner of Third Street and Third Avenue SE into a restaurant and the upper five floors of the building into a boutique hotel. In addition, HOA wants to convert the adjacent World Theater building at 314 Third Ave. into a 75-room hotel.  
A nine-story tower where the building's auditorium is located, complete with a rooftop bar, would connect to the restored facade of the historic theater.

The plans were submitted to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) in an application for tax credits that was approved on Oct. 19. The IEDA board approved a grayfield tax credit equivalent to 12 percent of any qualifying investment of $33.35 million, for a maximum of $1 million.

The project has an estimated value of $50.8 million, according to the grant application. HOA is a well-established company with offices in Des Moines and Moline, Illinois, that develops, owns and manages hospitality properties, including the Machine Shed, Johnny's Italian Steakhouse and Thunder Bay Grille brands. The company also operates hotels under the Marriott and Hilton flags, according to its website.
The Guaranty Bank building, a distinctive red stone and brick structure constructed in 1895, has long been discussed as the site of a boutique hotel. The bank and the World Theater building were acquired by Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust last year with its acquisition of Guaranty Bank. A grayfield tax credit would help cover the cost of resolving issues such as asbestos in the buildings.

A Johnny's Italian Steakhouse is proposed on the first floor of the bank building and other business concepts might be incorporated in the project, according to Cedar Rapids City Council Member Scott Olson of Skogman Commercial, who has been involved in the city's discussions with HOA over a period of several years. HOA is working with Steve Emerson's Aspect Architecture on the project design, Mr. Olson said.

The city is likely to see two more downtown boutique hotel projects emerge, Mr. Olson said, adding price and service competition. That competition will help the city capture more convention and meeting business by offering different styles of lodging and more rooms, he added.
Two Corridor cities are among the three Iowa communities that received perfect scores in the recently released 2018 Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

The Human Rights Campaign released its 2018 Critical Measure of Municipal LGBTQ Inclusivity ratings on Oct. 8. Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque received perfect scores.

A total of 78 cities nationwide received a perfect score for advancing LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. Iowa City received the perfect score for the fifth consecutive year, the city said in a press release.

To view individual reports for the 506 cities rated in the report, click here.

The Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) presented the Iowa Partners in Efficiency award to the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) Parole Revocation Team at its annual conference in West Des Moines on Wednesday, celebrating improved service delivery in Iowa's government.
The award was created to recognize a team or work unit within a not-for-profit that, through the use of Lean tools and techniques, significantly and measurably increases productivity and promotes innovation, thereby leading to the improvement of the way services are delivered to the citizens, businesses and industries of Iowa. 
Working in conjunction with the Iowa Parole Board, county jails and community-based corrections representing Iowa's eight judicial districts, the DOC team streamlined Iowa's parole revocation process and reduced county confinement costs. 
Iowa currently has more than 4,500 individuals on parole. Every year, nearly 40 percent of them have their parole revoked due to technical violations. The process starts when parolees are arrested and taken to county jails to wait until a hearing can be held. Per Iowa law, counties must provide temporary confinement (jail) for alleged parole violators, and DOC is required to reimburse the counties at a set rate through an annual appropriation to cover the costs. The expenses consistently exceeded the appropriated budget as costs continued to rise, going $619,846.35 over budget in fiscal year 2015.

Oct. 25
Corridor Career Fair, by Corridor Careers, 3:30-6:30 p.m., Cedar Rapids Marriott, 1200 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Meet face-to-face with Corridor businesses who have open positions. Free. To register or for more information, visit
PWN October Meeting, by Professional Women's Network of Iowa, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., U.S. Bank, 222 Second Ave., SE, Cedar Rapids. Consultant Marlo Higgins will speak on the topic of "How to Set, Honor and Manage Expectations of Yourself." Tickets: Free for members, $25 for non-members. To register, visit
Leadership Summit, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 8-11:30 a.m., Hills Bank & Trust, 3204 Seventh Ave., Marion. Keynote speaker Tracey Jones will discuss "Identifying Your Tremendous Triggers" as part of the chamber's annual meeting. Cost: $20 per person, or $150 for a table of eight. For more information visit .
Ribbon Cutting: Hyatt Place Iowa City Downtown, by Iowa City Chamber of Commerce, 5 p.m., 255 E. Court St., Iowa City. Enjoy a night of music, food and beverages as the Hyatt Place Iowa City Downtown celebrates its grand opening. Free.
Business PM, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 4:30- 6:30 p.m., J.Jill, 920 E. Second Ave., Ste. 155, Coralville. Network with area professionals in a casual, after-work environment. Free. For more information visit .
Oct. 26
Live2Lead, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1650 Matterhorn Drive NE, Cedar Rapids. Live2Lead is a TED-Talk style simulcast that provides a leader development experience designed to equip participants with new perspectives, practical tools and key takeaways. For more information, visit
Ribbon Cutting: Blue Sky Productions, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 1 p.m., Blue Sky, Productions, 1700 Banner Drive, Marion. Join us as we help Blue Sky Productions celebrate a re-model of their studio location. Free. For more information visit

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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids announced it will end a group living program for the intellectually disabled early next year. The program, New Horizons, has offered the services in the Cedar Rapids community since the 1970s inside St. Luke's Living Center East. The decision will affect 25 residents who currently live and seek services there. Kai Johnson  said his 17-year-old daughter Hannah has been improving from the services she gets at New Horizons since a space became available for her to live there last year.  "[At] 18 months old, she had a near-drowning accident and ended up in a persistent vegetative state, so she's dependent on 24/7 care ever since. There's not enough nursing to go around to cover what we needed for her at home," he said.  In an emailed statement to parents this week, he found out New Horizons will close its doors Feb. 1.  St. Luke's spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo said the building was purchased by the Catherine McAuley Center. To read the full story on KGAN/CBS2, click here.

The $1.54 billion Mega Millions jackpot  may have been won in South Carolina, but some in Iowa are big winners.  A $1 million prize was won in Davenport by matching the first five numbers but missing the Mega Ball.  Three tickets matched four of the first five numbers and the Mega Ball to win $10,000 each. One of those tickets was sold at the Kum & Go located at 3215 Seventh Ave. in Marion. The other two $10,000 tickets were sold in Ames and Indianola.  Overall, more than 106,000 prizes were won across Iowa on Tuesday. The Iowa Lottery said that players bought more than $5.6 million in Mega Millions tickets for Tuesday's drawing, including nearly $3.3 million in tickets on Tuesday alone, which was a single-day sales record for the game. During Tuesday's busiest stretch from about 5-6 p.m., Mega Millions tickets sold at more than $7,000 per minute in Iowa.

T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

Clouds have settled in overhead and will stay in place through the weekend. A disturbance will move through the area today and lead to the chance for some drizzle, especially this evening. However, there is a lot of dry air to overcome so it will likely remain dry. Temperatures will remain cool in the upper 40s to low 50s today.