• Cedar Rapids-based Fusionfarm to close later this year
• In the CBJ: Corn growers call for pro-trade policies
• Video: CR breaks ground on permanent flood protection
• Movers & Shakers: Week of 10.7.19
• CR Metro Economic Alliance seeks noms for Howard Hall award
Cedar Rapids-based Fusionfarm to close later this year
Cedar Rapids-based Folience has decided to close Fusionfarm, the marketing agency it created seven years ago.

In an announcement that Fusionfarm would shut its doors later this year, Folience CEO Daniel Goldstein, who leads the ESOP-owned holding company, said that while the agency has excelled at producing high-quality, award-winning work, “the business model for Fusionfarm just was not economically sustainable.”  

Mr. Goldstein declined to elaborate on issues with that business model, saying only that the decision was not made before considerable efforts to address them. Fusionfarm, led by Kelly Homewood and Michael Zydzik, was one of Folience’s first efforts to diversify beyond the company’s roots in the newspaper and television industries as the digital transformation shifted the media landscape.

If its financial performance was not up to expectations, Fusionfarm’s work for clients drew ample recognition. The  agency, which employed 13, recently won its third Midwest Emmy for its edgy “Downtown Cedar Rapids Sucks” campaign. The firm was also recently invited by AdAge to pitch to consumer giant Procter & Gamble, and was named as the Best PR/Creative Agency, Photographer/Videographer, and Website/App Developer in the Corridor this summer by CBJ readers .

The news followed layoffs last month that affected 25 employees at Folience’s Color Web Printers, and the departure this month of Steve Lorenz, a company veteran who oversaw sales as print product manager at the company’s Gazette Communications business.

Mr. Goldstein said the layoff, the departure and the closing decision are unrelated, and don’t reflect problems at the ESOP-owned holding company. He said the decision to close Fusionfarm was difficult and doesn’t reflect on the efforts of the team.

As businesses develop and succeed there can be necessary actions that are difficult, no matter how necessary,” Mr. Goldstein said. “Folience continues on a trajectory of growth and increased profitability.” 

While declining comment on the circumstances of Mr. Lorenz’ departure, Mr. Goldstein said Gazette Communications is expected to announce a replacement and continue its three-leader model. Fusionfarm will work with clients in a variety of ways to ensure their needs are met as it winds down operations, he added.

IMAGE: A photo of Fusionfarm's headquarters in downtown Cedar Rapids. CREDIT Fusionfarm
In the CBJ: Corn growers call for pro-trade policies
The lead representative for Iowa’s corn growers visited Cedar Rapids’ Downtown Rotary club on Sept. 30 to provide some updates on several of the nation’s most pressing trade fronts, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

That deal is intended to replace the North American Tree Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but currently remains stuck in the U.S. House, according to Craig Floss, CEO of the Iowa Corn Growers Association Some Democrats remain concerned about specific provisions in the deal, such as a lack of trade adjustment assistance, but the biggest challenge it faces is the “extremely partisan, toxic” political environment currently hanging over Congress, he said.

While there are concerns that the new impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump will result in the USMCA being “completely shoved aside,” Mr. Floss said that he has been assured by Democratic lawmakers from rural states that they understand the importance of the deal, and will continue working to pass it.

“The analogy they used was this – they want to be able to do the impeachment inquiry on one track and the USMCA on the other,” he said. “They said, if this were a baseball game, we’d be in the sixth inning.”

Asked for his opinion about the benefits of the USMCA to Iowa’s corn growers, Mr. Floss called it “even, at best,” noting that they “didn’t really get anything new in the USMCA that didn’t already exist in NAFTA,” but that it will benefit producers in other markets, including beef, dairy and poultry.

“We’re happy to just kind of keep everything, because of the importance of those two markets [Mexico and Canada],” he said.

Read the full members-only story in this week's print or digital editions of the CBJ.
Video: CR breaks ground on permanent flood protection
City, state, and federal leaders joined together in Cedar Rapids Tuesday afternoon to break ground on the city's first federally funded flood protection structure. The floodgate, to be placed on the southeast side of the 16th Avenue Bridge, is a $2.4 million section of a project funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The floodgate comes with a 67-foot, 14-foot-high retractable gate that rolls across the road and locks in 30 minutes. See the full story and video from news partner CBS2/FOX 28 here .
Movers & Shakers: Week of 10.7.19
For the complete list of this week's Movers & Shakers, see the  Oct. 7 edition of the CBJ.
CR Metro Economic Alliance seeks noms for Howard Hall award
Nominations are now open for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance’s Howard Hall Excellence in Business Award.

The award will be presented at the Economic Alliance's annual meeting, set for Jan. 29, 2020, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Cedar Rapids Convention Complex. Nominations will be accepted on through on Dec. 2.

The Howard Hall Excellence in Business Award is given to a premier business leader who exemplifies the outstanding, enduring business values of Howard Hall and his passion for a vibrant Cedar Rapids. Mr. Hall (1894-1971) was an industrialist and philanthropist who used his influence to create a better local economy and community.

“Hall was dedicated to the development of the region and frequently worked behind the scenes to attract new businesses and jobs,” said Doug Neumann, executive director of the Economic Alliance, in a release. “Our community benefits from the many contributions of the Hall family today.”

Recent recipients of the Howard Hall Excellence in Business Award include Larry Helling, founder and CEO, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust; Tony Golobic, chairman and CEO, GreatAmerica Financial Services; and Chuck Hammond, president and CEO, Raining Rose.

A full list of past recipients can be found here .
Short Term Event Planner

Oct. 10
Speed Networking , by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 7:45-9 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Meet Economic Alliance members in a fast-paced and casual environment. Free. To register, visit .

Instructor Showcase: Keys to Success , by Kirkwood Community College, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Kirkwood Continuing Training Center, 101 50th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. Preview nine trending topics from Kirkwood’s newest trainers in 20-minute intervals. An optional lunch from noon-1 p.m. will give attendees the opportunity to network further. Free. For more, visit . To register, call (319) 398-1022.

Corridor Conference on Business Travel , by Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited, 11:15 a.m.-4:15 p.m., The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. Learn more about what successful travel programs are doing to increase efficiency, productivity and drive cost savings including virtual payment, data analytics and duty of care. The program will also include an update from The Eastern Iowa Airport and a presentation from the Transportation Security Administration. Cost: $29. To register, visit .

Stirlingshire of Coralville Groundbreaking , by Ewing Development, 4 p.m., Stirlingshire of Coralville Assisted Living & Memory Care, 1180 Kennedy Parkway, Coralville, Iowa. Free. For information, visit .

Oct. 11
Professional Development Day , by PMI Eastern Iowa Chapter, 7:50 a.m.-4:45 p.m., The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. The theme of this development day is “Honoring Our Foundation, Leading the Way into the Future.” Cost: $129-$249. To register, visit .

Essence Salon Formal Grand Opening , by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 4-9 p.m., Essence Salon, 4201 42nd St. NE, Suite 110, Cedar Rapids. Celebrate this grand opening with food, beverages, prize drawings and more. Free. For more information, visit .
Get in the know
Forward the FREE CBJ Business Daily newsletter to your friends and colleagues, and share the feeling of being informed! Use our fast, one-minute subscription to the CBJ's newsletters  here , or check out our other subscription options  here

See something we missed? Send tips, leads, corrections, etc. to .
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn maturity is at a record low at this time of the year compared to previous years. Last spring hit farmers hard with the cold and wet weather, forcing a late start to planting crops. Director of the U.S. Midwest Climate Hub, Dr. Dennis Todey, says planting late can cause problems for farmers in the future. “We were very late, typically we’re planting corn in April until the middle of May and then soybeans soon after that," he said. "This year, we were planting corn all the way from early April until the second week in June, which is very late for planting corn, so when you’re behind you stay behind for the rest of the year." CBS2/Fox 28 Meteorologist, Nick Stewart says the cold weather isn't helping either. “Every time you get these systems that just delay the planting process, it just keeps delaying when the harvest happens and that’s the biggest problem this year,” Mr. Stewart said. Because of the late start, the corn isn't able to fully mature. This year it's at its record low of only 52 percent of corn ready for harvest. Read the full story here .

A Marion man is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a single-vehicle accident just outside of Robins. The Linn County Sheriff's office says they were called at 3:42 p.m. Tuesday to 8280 C Ave. NE. for an accident involving injuries. First responders found the accident at 2768 East Robins Road, where an SUV went off the road and struck a tree. Authorities believe the driver, a 77-year-old man from Marion, had a medical event that caused him to leave the roadway. No one else was injured in the accident. Authorities are withholding the name of the driver pending notification of family.

These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
CBS2 Weather First Forecast
We'll have one more nice day in Eastern Iowa before a strong storm brings rain, wind and cold air. It will be dry once again today with temperatures in the mid- to upper 60s. There will be a few more clouds around today compared to yesterday and a bit more of a breeze. Tonight, clouds will thicken up and rain will develop late. On Thursday, a strong storm will move through the Upper Midwest and bring showers and thunderstorms to Eastern Iowa. Showers and storms will be on and off during the day Thursday and there may be some isolated strong storms and locally heavy rain. Rain will continue through the night and into Friday.