TUESDAY, NOV. 14, 2017  |  IN THIS ISSUE  

Several Corridor companies have earned a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), according to a new report from the organization.
The CEI is a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) workplace equality.  
This year's report rated approximately 950 companies around the country on LGBTQ-related policies and practices, including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs and public engagement with the LGBTQ community.
More than 600 of those evaluated achieved a 100 percent ranking and a designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. Those with headquarters or extensive operations in the Corridor included:
  • Alliant Energy
  • Cargill, which recently acquired Diamond V
  • General Mills
  • Nordstrom
  • Pearson
  • PepsiCo, owner of Quaker Oats
  • Rockwell Collins
  • Transamerica
  • U.S. Bancorp
  • Wells Fargo
  • Whirlpool
"We are honored to be designated a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the HRC," Wayne Reschke, senior vice president of human resources with Alliant Energy, said in a statement announcing the ranking. "Particularly because bringing LGBTQ issues to the forefront and reaching the 100 percent score has been a collaborative effort between employees and leadership."
For more information on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index or to download a free copy of the report, visit hrc.org/cei.
UUFG earnings take hit from hurricane season

United Fire Group reported a net loss of $17.9 million, or 72 cents per diluted share, in its third quarter as it struggled under the weight of hurricane catastrophe losses and more severe commercial auto losses.
The Cedar Rapids-based insurer reported catastrophe losses of $30.7 million during the quarter, which pushed the company's GAAP combined ratio for the quarter - a measure of profitability used by the insurance industry - up by 17 points, to 118.1.
A ratio above 100 means the company is paying out more claims than it is receiving in premiums. UFG's ratio for the same quarter last year was 100.9. 
The majority of catastrophe losses came from Hurricanes Harvey ($9.6 million), Irma ($7.9 million) and Maria ($4 million), according to a statement by CEO Randy Ramlo. All of the losses from Hurricane Maria are from assumed reinsurance, with losses from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma from a combination of both direct losses and assumed reinsurance.
The insurer also reported "continued deterioration" in its core loss ratio due to an increase in severity of commercial auto losses.

"As we have stated the last few quarters, we are aggressively implementing many new initiatives to address this deterioration, which we know will take some time before we see the positive benefits in our financial results," Mr. Ramlo said.
Net premiums and total revenues both increased during the quarter, growing by 3.8 and 2.5 percent, respectively.
UFG also reported that overall average renewal pricing change for commercial lines increased slightly during the quarter. Commercial auto and commercial property rate increases continue to be in the mid to upper single digits with negative rate changes in its workers compensation line of business. Overall average renewal pricing increased slightly for personal lines, with increases in the low single digits.
When it comes to keeping IT resources secure, viruses come and go, but the fight to keep passwords strong and up to date never ends.
With the business world's reliance on web resources and online apps, users who once needed a handful of passwords now have dozens. The complexity of passwords has also increased as service providers ramp up their efforts to stymie identity theft and cyber fraud.
The answer for many people has been one of the hundreds of password management products available for download - often free or modestly priced, or sold for a monthly subscription.
Nate Adams, an Agile coach and software developer at NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids, is a "huge fan" of password managers, and keeps about 200 passwords in his preferred manager, LassPass.
"If you asked me for my Facebook password, I wouldn't have a clue," he said.
Mr. Adams said his password manager is set to generate and remember 12 to 20-character passwords for the secured resources he uses. That means he only has to remember one 80-character master password that would be much harder for a hacker to crack.
Tech mavens who take their security seriously often tend, like Mr. Adams, to have their favorite password manager.
The CBJ asked SecurityCoverage about the trend toward password managers becoming the norm for individual use, rather than the exception. They pointed to some key features that users should always seek out when selecting from the multitude of management options on the market.
To read the full, members-first story, see this week's print or digital editions of the CBJ.
Story4Bates named a 2017 Woman of Influence by TAI 
Michelle Bates 
Michelle Bates, founder and CEO of Coralville-based tech firm BluPrairie, has been named the winner of the Technology Association of Iowa's Leadership Innovation award, given last night as part of its annual Women in Innovation awards program.
According to the TAI, the Leadership Innovation award is given to executives that have shown both innovation and leadership in managing programs, projects or business units for an Iowa tech company.
Ms. Bates founded BluPrairie in 2015 after decades of guiding technology growth for Rockwell Collins, where she served as director of IT architecture services. She ran BluPrairie out of her home for more than a year, providing technology and data storage solutions for major clients like the University of Iowa Community Credit Union before partnering and co-locating with Meld, a full-service marketing firm, at the start of 2017.
Ms. Bates has built BluPrairie into an independent cloud strategy and design partner that helps businesses, governmental agencies, startups and institutions of higher education leverage new technology to do business differently.
"I love the pace of change," Ms. Bates told the CBJ earlier this summer. "I love what technology does for business enablement. And I'm passionate about keeping technology talent here in the Midwest."
Also honored at least night's event was Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, who was presented the Legislative Advocacy Leader Award by the inaugural recipient of the award, Gov. Kim Reynolds. Ms. Durham was selected for the award because of her continued advocacy for STEM internship funding.
To see the full list of 2017 Iowa Women of Innovation award winners, visit www.technologyiowa.org.
Story5Willis Dady reaches fundraising goal with $500k donation
The Willis Dady Emergency Shelter at 1247 Fourth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. 
At yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony for Willis Dady Homeless Services' building expansion in Cedar Rapids, Board Chair Sam Jones announced an anonymous $500,000 donation that catapulted the capital campaign past its goal.
"I thought I would be standing up here today announcing we had raised the $2.5 million capital portion of our $3 million goal," Mr. Jones said. "I'm beyond thrilled to announce that a very recent $500,000 anonymous donation has helped us pass our goal. Thanks to this kind donor and all of your generous contributions, we can now renovate and expand our building to create more capacity, reconfigure space to accommodate more families, finally make this facility accessible for people with disabilities and have funds to maintain it all far into the future."
Linn County's largest homeless shelter combines temporary shelter with case management, homeless prevention and other services to break the cycle of homelessness and promote self-sufficiency.
The expansion will more than double its current space to a total of 17,140 square feet. That will include growing the facility from 48 to 57 beds and reconfiguring space to double the number of families served. Four affordable apartments and additional space for case management and homeless prevention services, as well as a storm shelter, are included in the expansion.
"We're very thankful for the leadership of our campaign chairs and their committee, and most grateful for the generous gifts from private donors, including many residents, board members and staff," said Phoebe Trepp, executive director of Willis Dady.
In 2016, Willis Dady prevented homelessness for 321 households, including 325 children.
With the expansion, it is estimated that more than 15,000 people can be assisted over the next 30 years.  
The building expansion is projected to be completed in December 2018 and the renovations to the current structure in July 2019.

EventHeadlinesShort-Term Event Planner

Nov. 14 
Strategic Planning for Leaders, by ICAD Group and Kirkwood Community College, 2-4 p.m., 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Dan Ebener will share his knowledge about how to ensure that strategic planning can be a fun, engaging and meaningful experience. This session will introduce you to Mr. Ebener's eight-step process, which he has used with more than 150 organizations . Cost: $25. Call (319) 398-1022 or visit bit.ly/2yO5mY5 to register.
Pub Club , by EPIC, 4-6 p.m., Backpocket Brewing, 903 Quarry Road, Coralville. Join the Empowered Professionals of the Iowa City Area for drinks and casual networking during the last Pub Club of 2017. Free. For more information, visit  www.iowacityarea.com/member-resources/epic/ .
ITI Facility Visit: Freund-Vector Corp. , by International Traders of Iowa, 5:30-7 p.m., Freund-Vector Corp., 675 44th St., Marion. Local manufacturing company Freund-Vector will host the ITI's annual member company facility visit. Pizza and soft drinks provided. Cost: $10 for members, $12 non-members, $5 students. To register, visit iowatraders.org.
Graphic Means Screening , by AAF:CR-IC, 6-8:30 p.m., Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City chapter of the American Advertising Federation for a screening of "Graphic Means," a documentary on the history of the graphic design industry. A Q&A and discussion of processes and design problem solving will follow the screening. Cost: Free for members, $10 for non-members. For more information, contact [email protected].
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
For the first time in the McLeod Center's 11-year history, the general public is now able to purchase beer during Northern Iowa basketball games. UNI announced the new rules for the "Panther Patio" on Nov. 7. The area will be opened to those 21 and older for 12 of UNI men's basketball 14 home games this season (excluding dates on Feb. 3 and 7) from an hour before tip-off until the 10-minute mark of the second half. Monday was the first opportunity for all of-age Panther fans to experience the Panther Patio, as UNI opened its home schedule by hosting Alcorn State.
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

It's going to be another gloomy and cool day across Eastern Iowa. Clouds will blanket the area and there will be some areas of drizzle or light rain through the day. Temperatures will be below normal once again today in the low to mid 40s this afternoon. Showers will be possible through the night and move out very early Wednesday morning. Skies will clear Wednesday and temperatures will climb to the upper 40s to low 50s. This will be the first day about 50 since Nov. 2 and the first time above normal in 19 days. Temperatures will cool back down on Thursday to the low 40s. Then another, stronger storm system will approach the area Friday and will bump temperatures back close to 50.