TUESDAY, AUG. 21, 2018  |  IN THIS ISSUE  
MMcCreight out at GO Cedar Rapids following $2.3M festival loss

GO Cedar Rapids, the city's visitors and tourism arm, announced this morning it has fired two top executives in the wake of a $2.3 million loss for the controversial newbo evolve festival, which it once touted would "put Cedar Rapids on the map."
 
At a press conference this morning, GO Cedar Rapids Board Chair John Myers said the board has fired CEO Aaron McCreight and Scott Tallman, director of community events. The festival's losses exceeded the organization's annual $2 million budget, casting its future into doubt.
 
The firings came after determining that board-imposed financial safeguards were not followed and that inaccurate information regarding ticket sales and sponsorship revenue was shared with the board prior to the event.
 
Mr. Myers, who is serving as acting CEO, said "we as a board know we were presented with inaccurate information." He said GO Cedar Rapids will have to work out a repayment plan with vendors and a local bank, with which it has $1.5 million in borrowing related to the event. The city of Cedar Rapids will be repaid a $500,000 advance on the event by withholding the next two hotel-motel tax payments of about $250,000 each to GO Cedar Rapids.
 
About 9,000 tickets were sold to the event, which had a total capacity of about 32,000, including 602 $375 VIP passes and 8,340 general admission tickets.
 
Revenue and expenditure figures presented to the board were incorrect, according to Treasurer Seth Wear, who said the board was shocked to learn the true figures. It had expected a maximum loss of $644,000.
 
Mr. Myers said GO Cedar Rapids is conducting an internal review of its finances and a search for an interim CEO. He said all expenses are under review due to the financial circumstances of the organization, but GO Cedar Rapids is committed to continuing to provide essential services.
 
"Every option is on the table," he said.
 
The only good news shared at the press conference was that guests at the festival, which included concerts by Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson, were overwhelmingly pleased with the experience. However, Mr. Myers said the board isn't ready to commit to another edition of newbo evolve next year.
 
Planners once billed the three-day festival, held Aug. 3-5, as a "celebration of the Bohemian spirit" inspired by gatherings like South by Southwest and Burning Man. Organizers brought in big name artists, including speakers such as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, director John Waters and TV personality Carson Kressley. GO Cedar Rapids said it anticipated selling 4,000 three-day passes at $400 each, plus an additional 11,000 single event tickets to the Maroon 5 and Clarkson concerts.
 
"We always knew that launching a new, upscale entertainment event is extremely difficult," Mr. Myers said in a release. "While we received exceptionally high marks from the people who attended our events, we fell far short of the attendance levels predicted and the event's actual expenses exceeded the board's approved budget, resulting in a shortfall much greater than anticipated."

Suresh Gunasekaran
The University of Iowa has named Suresh Gunasekaran as the new associate vice president of University of Iowa Health Care and CEO of UI Hospitals & Clinics. Pending approval by the state's Board of Regents, Mr. Gunasekaran will begin work Nov. 15.

"Mr. Gunasekaran is ideally qualified to lead UI Hospitals & Clinics. His broad experience in health care information technology, physician group practices and children's hospitals is impressive," Dr.  Brooks Jackson, UI vice president for medical affairs, stated in a press release. "I look forward to his contributions as part of the UI Health Care senior leadership team as we continue our proud tradition of providing high-quality health care to our patients."

Mr. Gunasekaran said he feels very fortunate to be selected and is looking forward to joining the UI Health Care team and Iowa City area community.

"I am excited to join a nationally recognized health care organization and work alongside world-class faculty, caring clinicians and dedicated staff to make a difference in the lives of all Iowans," he said in a statement.

Mr. Gunasekaran is currently COO for the University of Texas Southwestern Health System in Dallas, which includes two university hospitals. He is also a senior executive with a joint-venture population health services company serving more than 400,000 members in north Texas.

He began his health care career in clinic and revenue cycle operations at Vanderbilt University Children's Hospital, and joined UT Southwestern in 2004 as assistant vice president and chief information officer for the health system. He received a master's in business administration with honors from Southern Methodist University and was winner of the Entrepreneurship Prize.

Pending approval by the Board of Regents, Mr. Gunasekaran will receive an annual salary of $800,000. He will replace Kenneth Kates, who retired this summer after serving in the position since 2008.

In what some are calling a case of "toppling David," a lawsuit filed by a Decorah brewery against its former head brewer is making national headlines for all the wrong reasons - and exposing the growing pains the exploding craft beer industry is undergoing both in Iowa and across the country.
 
Members of the brewing community, which likes to think of itself as a friendly fraternity, were shaken when Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. filed suit against its former head brewer Chris Flenker last month, contending he was violating a two-year noncompete agreement by going to work for Thew Brewing Co. in Cedar Rapids' Kingston Village.
 
Thew is owned by Mr. Flenker's brother, Travis.
 
Toppling Goliath, known for its Pseudo Sue pale ale, IPAs and barrel-aged stouts, alleges Mr. Flenker, who worked there from 2015 to January 2017, signed an employment agreement stating that he wouldn't work for another brewery within 150 miles of the Decorah facility. Its complaint asks the court for an injunction to block Mr. Flenker from working at Thew, located about 100 miles away, arguing he had confidential and "proprietary recipes, formulas and techniques and is using those trade secrets for gain."
 
Reaction on social media, industry blogs and websites was swift, fierce and, as even Toppling Goliath admits, mostly negative.
 
"That's pure B.S. from an owner who wants to make it hard for workers to leave - a legally punitive lock on the door to prevent defection," influential beer writer Jeff Alworth wrote in a blog post titled "How to Screw Your Brewer" on his Beervana site.
 
"Toppling Goliath puts the state beer community in an uncomfortable position within a national news story focusing on its legal disagreements in lieu of its beloved IPAs and stouts," wrote Bryan Roth, a contributor to Good Beer Hunting.
 
But even as bloggers, fellow brewers and beer enthusiasts criticized Toppling Goliath for attempting to restrict its former employee, others admitted that with 6,600-plus active breweries operating in the U.S. - and more than 80 of them in Iowa, according to the Iowa Brewers Guild (IBG) - competitive pressure is threatening to make relations a little less collegial.
 
Read the full members-first story in this week's print or digital edition of the CBJ.

MERGE in downtown Iowa City.
Iowa City's MERGE Innovation Space has been selected as a finalist for the University Economic Development Association's (UEDA) 2018 Awards of Excellence.
 
The co-working space is one of four contenders in the Talent + Innovation category. Both MERGE and the University of Iowa will be recognized for their work in developing and operating the downtown space designed to "create and cultivate a knowledge ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startups."
 
MERGE, which opened its doors in May 2017 in the heart of Iowa City's Pedestrian Mall, offers resources and connections to successfully create, launch and grow new companies in the Iowa City - Cedar Rapids area.
 
"With Iowa City-Cedar Rapids being home to an ever-growing population of entrepreneurs, freelancers and innovators, we found it to be our duty as the Iowa City Area Development Group to help create a communal space for these people to work, meet, collaborate and grow companies," ICAD Group President Mark Nolte said in a release. "We are proud of how many startups, visitors and community events we have housed in just our first year of operation."
 
David Hensley, executive director of the UI's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, said "growing a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that benefits our students, faculty and alumni takes partnership with the community, and creating MERGE was a way for us to collaborate in an exciting new way."   

The space provides 15 private offices for entrepreneurial startups, 40 seats of co-working bench space for creatives and remote workers, mentorship, funding support and a full prototype lab with 3-D printing, and related equipment so that ideas can quickly move through prototype stage to become viable products.

President Donald Trump yesterday approved Gov. Kim Reynolds' request for a presidential disaster declaration for 30 Iowa counties impacted by flooding and severe weather between June 6 and July 2, 2018.
 
Counties included in the declaration are: Adair, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Clay, Dallas, Delaware, Dickinson, Emmet, Floyd, Hamilton, Hancock, Howard, Humboldt, Kossuth, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Polk, Sioux, Story, Warren, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek and Wright.
 
The declaration will provide federal funding under the Public Assistance Program, putting into motion long-term federal recovery programs, some of which are partially matched by state programs, and designed to help public entities and select nonprofits. Public assistance funds may be used for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, including debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair of damaged public property, loans needed by communities for essential government functions and grants for public schools.
 
Damage assessments in seven declared counties showed an estimated $16 million worth of damage that could be eligible under the Public Assistance Program.
 
The presidential disaster declaration also includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this funding, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future disasters by taking steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards.
 
A second request for a presidential disaster declaration as a result of the storms and tornadoes that hit the state on July 19, 2018, is still under review.
 
Aug. 21
Iowa City Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Mosley's Barbeque, 525 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City. 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.

Ribbon Cutting: 365 Nutrition, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 4 p.m., 350 Beaver Kreek Center, North Liberty. Help welcome 365 Nutrition to the North Liberty business community. Free. For more information, visit bit.ly/2LIAGes.

Aug. 22
1 Million Cups, by 1MC, 9-10 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids and MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, startup pitches and free coffee. Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MCICR.

Aug. 23
Small Business Roundtable, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 7:30 a.m., Scott's Family Restaurant, 1906 Blairs Ferry Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Bring your questions, challenges and best practices to this informal gathering for both those in business and those thinking of starting a business. Free. For more information and to register, visit conta.cc/2OfCTiq.

Basics of Qualified Business Income Deduction, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and SCORE of East Central Iowa, 8-9 a.m., 501 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Led by Robert Wangsness of SCORE, this program will explore if your business can use the Qualified Business Income deduction, what the potential tax savings are and the basics of calculating the deduction. Free. For more information and to register, visit bit.ly/2Mnruwu.

Ribbon Cutting: Emerson Learning Center, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 9 a.m., 1400 10th Ave., Marion. Help the Marion Independent School District celebrate the opening of its new Emerson Learning Center. Free.

Professional Women's Network Monthly Meeting, by PWN, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Hear from area experts on managing your finances, planning for taxes and setting up trusts. Free for members, $25 for non-members. For more information and to register, visit bit.ly/2v1cqNw.

Groundbreaking: Tiffin Fareway, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 4 p.m., Fareway Stores Inc. will host a groundbreaking ceremony for its new store in Tiffin. Free.

Coolest Places to Work, by Corridor Business Journal, 5:30-8 p.m., Coralville Marriott, 300 E. Ninth St., Coralville. The CBJ's Coolest Places to Work awards identifies and honors local companies that have created the most engaging and rewarding work environments. The top 24 companies' rankings will be announced at the event, with videos on each company. The CEO from the No. 1 Coolest Place to Work will share his/her story. Tickets: $55 until Aug. 16, $70 after; $495 for a table of 10, or $630 after. To register, visit corridorbusiness.com/events or contact ashley@corridorbusiness.com.
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
 
Missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts has been found dead, according to a report from Fox News. The report says a law enforcement source said the body was found in Iowa, but more specific details about the location were not released. Ms. Tibbetts had been missing since mid-July when she was last seen jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. Police have scheduled a news conference for 4 p.m. today to provide an update on the latest developments. 
 
Doctors and teachers say it's common for students to carry their backpacks with them in school throughout the day, but depending on how they carry their bags it may not be good for their back. At North Central Junior High in North Liberty, heavy backpacks aren't something students have to worry about. "One thing that we do to try to get out in front of that is we have a lot of online textbooks," said Principal Colby Miller. That's not the case for every school, which is why doctors are warning parents of the importance of buying the right backpack for their kids: one with two straps. "You don't want to wear just one strap because that could cause a different posture than you'd like," said Dr. Alex Riniker, a chiropractor at  Revive Family Chiropractic in Marion. Dr. Riniker sees kids of all ages come to his practice with their backpack loaded with books. He makes sure to tell parents it's important a bag doesn't weigh more than 15 percent of their child's weight. "If you think about a 50 pound child, 10-15 percent of that would be only five to 10 pounds or five to 12 pounds," said Dr. Riniker. Read the rest of the story here.

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

We're getting a dose of fall weather for the middle of the week in Eastern Iowa. Temperatures will be below normal for a few days before summer heat and humidity returns this weekend.  Behind Monday's rain, drier and cooler air will settle in. There will be clouds around today, but clouds clear tonight as high pressure moves in. Temperatures will be below normal in the 70s today through Thursday.
Another storm moves in Friday and will bring another round of showers and thunderstorms. Behind this system, summer weather comes back in. Temperatures will be near 90 degrees Saturday through Monday and humidity goes back up.