IABI conference highlights changing trade, cybersecurity arenas

Author Peter Zeihan speaking at the ABI conference. CREDIT JOHN LEE PHOTOGRAPHY   
Wednesday was a morning of big ideas and global challenges at the Iowa Association of Business and Industry's annual conference in Coralville.
Speakers Peter Zeihan and Mark Goodman outlined their at-times stark visions of the future in back-to-back keynotes for the audience of hundreds gathered at the Coralville Marriott.
Mr. Zeihan, an Iowa native and author of "The Absent Superpower," opened the morning with a look at "the end of the world," focused on the changing nature of international trade and  geopolitical power, and how it could restructure the global political stage in the coming years.
Although the current economic order, in place since the end of World War II, helped create an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity - global GDP has grown by a factor of 10, while the world's population has tripled - it was also never built on the idea of equal trade among partners, Mr. Zeihan explained. The United States, more interested in constraining the Soviets, subsidized the global order in the name of cultivating allies.
"For us, trade was never about trade," Mr. Zeihan said. "It was about security."
With the Cold War over and the U.S. retreating inward politically - a trend that he expects will carry on as millennials age - the stage has been set for a return to the pre-WWII order, he said, where military conflict is more frequent, and global trade is more transactional and less free.
"That means Donald Trump is likely to be the most internationalist, least populist president we'll have in our lives," Mr. Zeihan quipped.
Fortunately, the United States will have its share of advantages in the coming decades, he noted, including a robust agricultural sector that can ramp up quickly in the event of global famine, better demographics than many rapidly aging countries such as China and Japan, and vast stores of oil and natural gas, courtesy of the Bakken Formation.
"We're the only country in the world where natural gas is basically free, and we're now using natural gas to make products," Mr. Zeihan said, showing an intricate chart detailing all of the products that can now be produced with the input. "We're not just the lowest cost producer [for many products], we're the only country in the world that has an independent source for making them."
Mark Goodman, the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Future Crimes," used his keynote to offer an eye-opening look at the future of cyber threats, which he said will be "exponential, automated and three-dimensional."
Comparing criminal organizations to Silicon Valley "unicorns," or startups that reach a $1 billion valuation, he noted that we have already seen the first "cybercrime unicorns." Criminals in 2015 digitally broke into 100 banks in 30 different countries and stole $1 billion in one day, while Yahoo revealed earlier this year that 3 billion of its accounts had been compromised in a 2016 hack - 2.5 billion more than originally reported.
"Criminal enterprises are now worth $1 billion, and they're turning that money around on R&D so they can be better," Mr. Goodman warned, adding that crime syndicates are now creating their own "crimeware," or software platforms that can be purchased by aspiring digital criminals. 
He also issued a caution for companies plunging headlong into the burgeoning internet of things trends, saying that while it represents a huge economic opportunity, it also offers more opportunities for hackers to infiltrate systems. He noted that ransomware has already appeared for smart TVs and digital home thermostats, and that thieves have figured out how to use the accelerometer on Apple Watches to read people's PIN numbers.
While Mr. Goodman said he believes a new "Manhattan Project" on cybersecurity is needed, he also urged companies to focus on the "basics," including creating a culture of security among employees, keeping enterprise software updated and using a password manager to create stronger passwords.
"If you do these things, you'll have a vast reduction in your risk," he said.
More than 575 business leaders from around the state attended the three-day conference in Coralville. It closes today with a graduation ceremony for the organization's Leadership Iowa program and a keynote from John (Andy) Anderson, a supply chain management expert and experienced mountain climber.

The Pilot Travel Center, shown under construction in March 2018 near the I-380 Wright Brothers Boulevard exit in Cedar Rapids
Pilot Flying J announced today that it will open its Pilot Travel Center at 8950 Earhart Lane SW in Cedar Rapids this month. 
The travel center features numerous amenities and will add approximately 70 local jobs to the community.
"We're thrilled to serve the Cedar Rapids community and contribute to the local economy with our new travel center," said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J, in a release. "Our goal at Pilot Flying J is to connect people and places with comfort, care and a smile at every stop. Both Cedar Rapids residents and those traveling through the Linn County area will soon be able to enjoy the convenience and amenities of this Pilot Travel Center."
Among the amenities offered at the Pilot Travel Center are:
The new facility bring Pilot Flying J's network of stores in Iowa to 18  locations, including travel centers and dealers. The combined network of more than 750 Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers across North America serves more than 1.6 million customers daily. 

Dr. Robert Baur of Principal Global Investors will keynote the Corridor Business Journal's Mid-Year Economic Review luncheon. 
The June 27 event will examine how the economy has changed since January's Economic Forecast Luncheon, and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Corridor businesses in the second half of 2018.
As executive director and chief global economist of Principal Global Investors, Mr. Baur establishes and directs global economic policy and strategy. He is oversees and conducts macroeconomic and quantitative research, forecasts economic trends and anticipates market movements. He is also responsible for directing macroeconomic research for Principal Portfolio Strategies.
Following Mr. Baur's speech, Jack Evans, president of The Hall-Perrine Foundation, will moderate a local leading indicators panel discussion. Panelists include:
  • Lee Eilers, president and CEO of Marion Process Solutions
  • Brad Johnson, vice president and general manager of Knutson Construction
  • Pankaj Monga, president and CEO of Channel Fusion
  • Kent Statler, executive vice president and COO of Rockwell Collins
  • Heidi Vittetoe, general manager of J.W. Vittetoe Pork Ltd.
The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. June 27 at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids. Tickets are $50 per individual and $500 per table of 10. For more information or to register, visit or call Ashley Levitt at (319) 665-6397, ext. 311. Registration closes June 20.

Renewable fuel advocates praised Iowa's senators this week for their influence in President Donald Trump's decision Tuesday not to go forward with changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) sought by oil refiners.

"The nation's corn growers thank Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Joni Ernst and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for their advocacy and steadfast support for farmers, rural communities and renewable fuels. We greatly appreciate their efforts," said Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association's Corn Board, in a release. "With the expectation that the administration was preparing to take drastic actions to unravel the RFS, farmers are very pleased those actions have been set aside and strongly encourage the administration to keep the president's commitment to America's farmers and leave the RFS intact." 
The White House was expected to announce proposed changes to the RFS this week after months of negotiations between representatives of the petroleum and renewable fuels industries. The deal was expected to ease pressure on petroleum refiners by allowing their biofuels exports to count toward the annual volume quotas of the renewable fuel standard. As a concession to biofuels producers, it would have expanded sales of high-ethanol fuel blends.

Prices for renewable fuel credits soared in morning trading on Wednesday in response to the announcement.
The tiny Herda House, one of the oldest surviving houses in Czech Village, was relocated and restored to serve as an Airbnb rental. CREDIT SAVE CR HERITAGE
A tour on June 16 will offer a rare look inside historical buildings and sites in Cedar Rapids that have made remarkable comebacks since the 2008 flood. 
To mark the 10th anniversary of the flood, Save CR Heritage, in partnership with the city of Cedar Rapids and the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District, is hosting CR Resurgence, a free tour of seven sites, followed by a social hour at an eighth location.
In June 2008, the Cedar River crested at 31.12 feet, producing a surge of water that ravaged the city's core, inundating homes and businesses. In the aftermath, more than 1,200 homes and 200 commercial buildings were demolished, while some sites that flooded were rebuilt and came back to new life. The tour will highlight sites that not only survived the flood but thrived, with some being completely repurposed.
The tour will be held from 2-5:30 p.m. on June 16. Participants can meet at the Mott Lofts, 42 Seventh Ave. SW, for a map and information anytime between 2-4 p.m. and visit each stop at their own pace through 5:30 p.m., followed by a social hour at Lion Bridge Brewing Co. in Czech Village, with food and drink available for purchase. 
Hosts will be available on-site to provide information on the history of each of the following locations: Rowell Hardware, Ellis Urban Lofts, Shakespeare Garden, Theatre Cedar Rapids, Kurik House and Herda House. 
Save CR Heritage raises awareness of buildings at-risk of demolition and advocates to repurpose historic buildings. The tour is offered for free through the group's partnership with the city. Find more information at and at
June 8
NewBo Open Coffee, by NewBoCo, 8-9 a.m., Roasters at NewBo, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids. This meetup is a minimally guided conversation among community members about anything rooted in creativity and entrepreneurship. All are welcome. Free. For more information, visit

June 11
Coralville Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Backpocket Brewing, 903 Quarry Road, Coralville. Roundtables are social lunches over the noon hour. All are invited to network and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. Free for members. Call the chamber at (319) 337-9637 if interested and not a member.

Iowa Inventors Group Meeting, by IIG, 7 p.m., Community Savings Bank, 101 Robins Square Court, Robins. Brian Fried, president of Inventor Smart, will share his experiences bringing his inventions to retail. Free. For more information, visit
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
"I'm sure it would've been a picture-perfect opportunity," said Lexa Krug, a student visiting the Cedar Rapids area. It's the view over the Cedar River the GO Cedar Rapids team was hoping people would get to see from the Cedar Screamer this summer. They announced plans for the zip-line in January. When it was announced, the goal was to have it up by May and running until August, but now it could take a little longer. "Even if today we started building - it's not open until July and then it's open for six weeks," said Aaron McCreight, president of GO Cedar Rapids. Mr. McCreight said the project faced a number of obstacles, including having to work with different contractors and finding enough time to properly prepare staff who would work the zip line. "We want it to be a safe experience. We didn't want any short change of training or safety measures or building measures - any misstep is not acceptable," said Mr. McCreight.
On Tuesday around 4 p.m. Cedar Rapids Police found a man laying unconscious in Greene Square Downtown after an apparent altercation. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but his condition and identity haven't been released. Today, the police presence at Greene Square was heightened, giving some visitors a sense of security. "I can't say it's getting worse, but I also can't say it is getting better. It definitely needs some help, I know the cops are definitely doing the best job they can," said resident Brian Williams. Mr. Williams often comes to the park and visits the adjacent library. He has noticed the increase in police cruisers parked around the square and the presence of more patrolling officers inside the park. For those who come to the library on an almost daily basis, security hasn't been an issue. While there are groups hanging around the park, Shane Wohlert has not had an issue taking his breaks there. "I take breaks around Greene Park and there will be some homeless people hanging out but there is usually a police presence almost all the time," Mr. Wohlert said.

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

The summery weather continues into the end of the week and weekend. There will be a mix of sun and clouds today with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s. There's a slight chance for an isolated shower or storm this afternoon with higher chances tonight. Showers and storms will roll through the area after 10 p.m. and through the overnight hours, with the higher chances near and south of Highway 20. There will be additional rounds of storms Friday and Saturday, all occurring along a front that is stalled out over the area. This front will continue to keep moisture and humidity in place through the weekend. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 80s Friday and Saturday.