FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020 | IN THIS ISSUE

• Buie named president at Involta
• CID implementing new protocols to boost traveler safety
State auditor to review fairness of relief grant program
• FEMA awards Iowa $78M for COVID-19 response
• In the CBJ: 15 ways to support local journalism
• Corridor events, KCRG-TV9 headlines and First Alert Forecast
Buie named president at Involta
Involta, a national based provider of cloud, managed IT and data center services, has named James (Jim) Buie as its new president.

Mr. Buie joined the Cedar Rapids-based company in 2016 as CFO, following three decades leading sales, marketing and operational groups at major companies including ViaWest, Comcast and AT&T.

Since his arrival, he has been instrumental in growing the company’s hybrid cloud and strategic consulting offerings through the acquisitions of BluPrairie and IT|Lynk, both in 2018, and the launch of new service solutions, including a new global security solution offered through a partnership with Alert Logic and a pilot program with MyndYou aimed at detecting subtle changes in employees’ health.

Company leaders said in a release that his new appointment will help accelerate Involta’s growth trajectory in the years ahead.

“We are pleased to announce Jim Buie will continue to provide leadership and oversight in this new capacity,” said Founder and CEO Bruce Lehrman. “Jim has been a driving force behind Involta’s strategic growth, and with his extensive knowledge of the tech industry, I am confident Involta is well-positioned to continue our development across the country.”

Founded in 2007, Involta is one of the fastest-growing companies in the region. It has appeared on the CBJ’s annual Fastest Growing Companies list seven times since 2010, as well as the Inc. 500/5000 lists.

IMAGE: James Buie.
CID implementing new protocols to boost traveler safety
The Eastern Iowa Airport yesterday announced that it is implementing additional enhancements to ensure travelers have a safe and healthy experience in the airport.

The new safety measures include:

  • Requiring all CID team members to wear face masks while in the public areas of the terminal. We are encouraging all stakeholder employees and passengers to also wear masks. To assist that effort, CID has disposable masks available at the Information or Guest Services desks.
  • Requiring all CID team members to perform daily self-screening procedures before reporting to work.
  • The purchase of electrostatic disinfecting sprayers to provide additional disinfecting throughout the terminal, including airline and rental car ticket counters.
  • Increased deep cleaning and disinfecting of high touch points, such as handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, tables, public desks, and chairs.
  • Equipping the CID team with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- registered disinfectant.
  • Installation of protective shields at the Information desk and Guest Services desk.
  • Frequent public service announcements, static signage, and digital displays reminding everyone to practice social distancing and other prevention measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Ongoing installation of vinyl floor stickers to designate six-foot marks for queues and signage in jet bridges.
  • Placing hand sanitizer on counters throughout the terminal.

Airport Director Marty Lenss said in a release that CID is monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health officials to ensure the airport is following proper safety standards, and working to go beyond minimum recommendations.

Mr. Lenss says the airport received the electrostatic disinfectant sprayers this week and the team has been using the throughout the terminal.

“We ordered these when the pandemic started, so it took a little longer than we hoped to receive them, but our team is using them on a regular basis,” he says.

Information on these protocols can be found on the airport’s website .

Find more daily Corridor business and community updates at the CBJ's  coronavirus updates page .
State auditor to review fairness of relief grant program
State Auditor Rob Sand will review a statewide emergency grant program following questions and criticism by some of the economically devastated small business owners it was intended to help.
 
"I am looking into it," said Mr. Sand, the state's watchdog, of the Small Business Relief Program established by Gov. Kim Reynolds and administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. "When you hit a certain volume of complaints, it's a pretty good signal you should start asking questions."
 
The CBJ first reported on controversy surrounding IEDA's selection process shortly after it disbursed $24 billion in urgent grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 in early April. Intended to throw a temporary lifeline to struggling businesses awaiting federal aid, the program attracted more than 14,000 applications requesting $148 million.
 
That forced the state agency to "triage" aid to the 7% of applicants it deemed most at need and left some business owners wondering why enterprises with several locations received multiple maximum-level $25,000 grants, why some open businesses got full grant amounts when other, shuttered businesses got none, and what criteria the state utilized in determining who would and would not qualify for the urgent funding.
 
Since then, the program has been restarted thanks to $35 million in economic stimulus money appropriated to the state as part of the federal CARES Act. To date, the program has handed out 3,023 grants totaling $58.6 million – including 515 worth nearly $10 million to businesses in the seven-county Corridor area.
 
The federal funding injection has enabled IEDA to award grants to about 21% of the businesses that originally applied so far. But it hasn't stopped the criticism, according to Mr. Sand.
 
The CBJ reported last month on several businesses receiving multiple maximum awards, including Brown's Shoe Fit, which received four grants for four locations totaling $87,000 in the first round of funding. In the program's second round, the same chain received 11 grants for 11 more locations statewide - all for the maximum $25,000 - for a total of $275,000 in additional funding. The Des Moines Register recently reported on other apparent irregularities, including a $10,000 grant approval to Fairfield-based company, Panties.com, that was rescinded four hours later with an e-mail explaining the award was made in error.
 
Mr. Sand said he was hearing numerous similar complaints, though he declined to discuss specifics, citing confidentiality.
 
"I can say we will be undertaking a thorough review of the decision-making process to make sure every applicant was treated equally," he said, adding that the review might be folded into his department's regular May audit of the state or become a separate audit. "I don't want to give out a timeline because until you're finished investigating, you don't know what you're investigating."
 
IEDA officials declined to return multiple calls and emails seeking comment, but agency spokeswoman Kanan Kappelman previously said that due to limited resources it was impossible to provide assistance to everyone, noting "we know that businesses across the state are devastated and continue to endure the impact of the current crisis."
 
Watch for more coverage in the May 11 print and digital editions of the CBJ.

IMAGE: Rob Sand.
FEMA awards $78M to Iowa for COVID-19 response
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Thursday announced that it has obligated $78 million to the state of Iowa to reimburse expenses for emergency protective measures as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The grant funds, awarded by FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program, were made available Thursday, May 6, and are authorized under a major disaster declaration approved by President Donald Trump on March 29 for the entire state. In total, FEMA has provided nearly $150 million to date in support of the state’s COVID-19 efforts.
 
The money reimburses 75% of projected eligible costs associated with buying personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical supplies and equipment during the months of May and June 2020. Those supplies include medical gowns, surgical masks, face shields, safety glasses and gloves, disinfectant, respirators and viral swab collections kits.
 
The obligation also includes $19.5 million in contract services for TestIowa, $35,000 in contract services associated with overseas PPE purchases and $13.7 million for additional medical supplies and equipment for the month of April.
 
“We are pleased to provide this significant grant to the State of Iowa to help them manage the financial demands that they’re experiencing as a result of COVID-19,” said Paul Taylor, FEMA Region VII Administrator, in a release announcing the award. “We will continue to work closely with them as our shared efforts to respond to this pandemic continue.”
 
In addition to the $78 million, FEMA previously obligated the following money for Iowa:

  • $44 million to reimburse eligible costs for buying essential PPE, medical supplies and equipment for March and April
  • $4 million to reimburse state administrative costs associated with COVID-19 response
  • $17 million to pay costs associated with the deployment of Iowa National Guard members deployed under Title 32 authorities
  • $4.2 million to the Veterans Health Administration to pay for use of up to 20 beds at VA facilities and to pay for extra nursing care at state veteran’s facility.
In the CBJ: 15 ways to support local journalism now
In this week's "The Fifth Estate" media column, CBJ contributor Joe Coffey discusses the recent changes to one of the Corridor's daily newspapers and how you can help support local media.

News that the Gannett-owned Iowa City Press-Citizen will no longer be managed locally is worth your consideration as a member of the business community.

You shop local when you can. You support local causes. You rally around local business needs. You should care that local news needs you right now.

P-C editor Tory Brecht has been laid off . That means that a Des Moines Register editor will now be making the editorial calls for a news operation here in the Corridor. As the last daily newspaper in Iowa City (not counting the University of Iowa’s student-run Daily Iowan), the Press-Citizen will continue with an editorial staff of just four reporters and a photographer. You have to go all the way back to the 1850s to find the last moment when Iowa City didn’t have a locally managed daily.

It’s time to rally around local news. The best way to do this is to engage with the products and business services they provide. Here are 15 things you can do to support local journalism now:

1. Consume local media – Watch the news. Read print copies of the local papers you come across at work, in waiting rooms, etc. and pass them along.

2. Subscribe – Pay to receive the CBJ, The Gazette, the Press-Citizen and other Corridor news sources delivered/mailed to your house and your place of work.

3. E-subscribe – Sign up for relevant e-newsletters. The CBJ’s Morning Rush and Business Daily newsletters, for example, deliver business scoops regularly.

4. Place ads – People who care about their communities consume local media. They see who is advertising. They are proactive with their support. Participate in this important cycle of local information and commerce.

5. Advertise in other way s – Chances are, you aren’t aware of all the creative and effective ways to get your business in front local media consumers. Call to learn more.

6. Follow online – Make the effort to like/follow local media organizations on Facebook and Twitter. Even better, go to their homepages on Facebook and click “see first” under the “follow” button. This action ensures their content will be in your newsfeed.

7. Share – This goes a long way in the electronic media world. Don’t just “like” the social link to stories you find interesting or important – share and comment on them.

8. Follow journalists – Local reporters have social media accounts. You’d be surprised how insightful and entertaining their posts can be.

9. Get in the news – If you think there is something interesting, especially good or even troubling about your business or industry, reach out. Call the news desk. Share a press release. Send an email. Give a reporter a tip, or send an anonymous letter if you think that’s best. Local reporters will do everything in their power to bring an important story to the public when they have the help of sources. (They won’t burn you, either.)

10. Participate – Local media companies host events, get involved with local causes and experiment with content in new formats all the time. You can nominate colleagues and businesses for awards. Take their surveys, and give their new media products a try.

11. Write – Your opinions, expertise in your field and concerns as a member of the business community matter. Send a “letter to the editor” email. Write an op-ed on behalf of your company, affinity group or industry.

12. Give feedback – Hit up that reporter or columnist who wrote the piece you love or hate. Criticize coverage that got it wrong. Give kudos for getting it right. Local journalists and news managers care about what you think and really do want to hear from you.

13. Teach your children – Get involved in the long game. Share clippings and links to local media stories with your kids. Let ‘em stay up for the 10 p.m. newscast. Get them into the habit of being well-informed via local news.

14. Be a voice for local media – Let your marketing department know they should be advertising locally. Let your boss know the breakroom needs a subscription. Let a company know their local ad is what motivated you to do business with them.

15. Explore life with local media – Don’t forget about the important role local media play when it comes to lifestyle. Keep an eye out for entertainment recommendations and book reviews. Try the recipes in the Sunday paper. Read reviews of local performances. When that heartwarming story about a local do-gooder gives you the feels, seek that person out on social media and let them know you read/saw the story and appreciate them. •

Joe Coffey has 20 years of experience as a journalist, educator and marketer in the Corridor. 
Connect with the CBJ

The CBJ’s mission of informing and connecting the Corridor’s business community is more important than ever. Our news operations will continue researching and reporting on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through our multiple distribution channels. Here’s how you can connect with us today and moving forward:

  • You can reach our newsroom directly with leads, updates, cancellations, etc. at news@corridorbusiness.com.
  • Our comprehensive, deep-dive content continues in our weekly CBJ. If you are not a digital subscriber, you can sign up here.
  • Our daily news coverage solution is spread throughout the week with our free e-newsletters. If you have not already signed up, you can do so here.
  • Updated coronavirus information will also be published on our website, corridorbusiness.com/latest-coronavirus-updates, and through our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn channels.
  • All of our staff members remain available to assist you. You can find our full contact information at www.corridorbusiness.com/cbj-contact.

Remember: Subscribers can access the digital CBJ anytime and anywhere. Don't remember your password? Please email  jean@corridorbusiness.com for a password reset.

The CBJ print subscribers can also temporarily have the CBJ mailed to their home. To temporarily switch your address, please send your full temporary mailing address to  jean@corridorbusiness.com. Please include start and stop dates for the temporary address.

Thank you for your continued support of the Corridor Business Journal.
Short Term Event Planner
 
May 11
Virtual Lunch Connections , by Iowa City Area Business Partnership, noon-1 p.m., online. Join this Zoom lunch meeting to connect with other business people in the Corridor. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/3eZJSdK .
 
PPP Loan Forgiveness Solutions for Credit Union Lenders , by CLA, 2-3 p.m, online. Learn about solutions CLA can provide to help your institution comply with lender responsibilities related to loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/2zdEiE0
 
PPP Loan Forgiveness Solutions for Bank Lenders , by CLA, 3:30-4:30 p.m., online. Learn about solutions CLA can provide to help your institution comply with lender responsibilities related to loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/2yqBjIu .
 
Iowa Inventors Group Meeting , by IIG, 7 p.m., online. Don Skaggs, an investor, entrepreneur and author, will discuss essential factors that are needed to help turn your product or business idea into an opportunity. Free. To join, visit www.iowainventorsgroup.org.
 
May 12
COVID-19 Roundtable , by CIRAS, 7:30-8:30 a.m., online. CIRAS experts will walk participants through an overview of what they know about dealing with COVID-19, in this session geared toward manufacturers. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/2YQPykH .
 
Apprenticeships -- Beyond the Trades , by Kirkwood Corporate Training, 9-10 a.m., online. This webinar will address the basics of registered apprenticeships, including how to create and implement one. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/3fqCmbX .
 
Creating Your Government Marketing Strategy , by CIRAS, 9:30-10:30 a.m., online. The webinar will provide information on the overall value of initial and ongoing market research for companies pursuing government sales. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/3dhjaeT .
 
Creating Value in the U.S. in Uncertain Times , by CLA, 10-11 a.m., online. Learn how to create value in the U.S. market during these uncertain times. Topics will include operating in the U.S., tax and employment guidance, strategic partnerships and other high-priority subjects. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/2KI5YDr .
 
Innovation Watch , by Corridor Business Journal, 10:30 a.m.-noon, online. This new event features tech, STEM and innovation discussions with Iowa educators, business leaders, scientists and visionaries. Learn about up-and-coming discoveries made by companies in the Corridor and how innovation in Iowa is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Free. To register, visit corridorbusiness.com/events .
 
Customer Focused Selling: Build Your Business with Relationships , by Iowa Center for Economic Success, noon-1 p.m., online. Learn how to redefine your sales process by building real relationships with your customers. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/3b86g1p .
Headlines from KCRG-TV9
These news items are provided by KCRG-TV9  
 
An Oxford man was sentenced on May 8 to more than two years in federal prison for falsely testifying at the federal firearms trial of a Cedar Rapids man in 2019. Blayze Harding, 27, pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 to one count of making a false statement before a federal court. Officials say during the plea, Harding admitted that he answered falsely to questions asked while he was under oath during the May 14, 2019, trial titled United States of America v. Carl McArthur. He also agreed that his false testimony interfered with the administration of justice. Harding was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced on Friday 397 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths in Iowa. That brings the totals to 11,457 positive cases and 243 total deaths in the state. So far in total 70,261 have been tested, 4,685 recovered. There are currently 417 hospitalized patients, compared to 413 yesterday, with 31 having been admitted in the last 24 hours. 151 patients are in the ICU. IDPH is also reporting that 326,521 people have completed the TestIowa assessment. On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds unveiled an update to the state's website intended to make more of the data easier to access. You can view it here . Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Iowa today to meet with religious leaders to discuss how they are using federal and state guidelines to open their houses of worship in a safe and responsible manner.

These news items are provided by KCRG-TV9
Your KCRG-TV9 First Alert Forecast
Today is all about the cooler temperatures, but at least we have plenty of sunshine. Plan on highs into the upper 40s over extreme northeast Iowa, with lower 50s elsewhere. Winds may gust over 30 mph at times through late-afternoon. Tonight, it's all about freezing temperatures as lows fall to the upper 20s and lower 30s. Ensure plants are brought in or protected. This weekend continues to look split with sunshine and highs in the lower 60s tomorrow. On Mother's Day, showers, cooler air and wind will be brought in from the north making for a chilly day.