Steven Keith, a Marion native and founder of CX Pilots, has opened an Iowa City branch of his Raleigh, North Carolina-based management consulting boutique hoping to "invest back into the community" that launched his success.

CX Pilots, headquartered in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, announced this week it had opened an office at MERGE Collaboration Space, 130 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City, to serve what Mr. Keith sees as the Corridor's growing demand for customer experience consulting.

"If customer experience is the sum total of all interactions a person has with a company over time, that's a lot of interaction to think about and prepare for," Mr. Keith said in a release. "The bottom line is that most companies' prospects, customers and employees have to do an awful lot of stuff before, during and long after a purchase. Most companies miss or ignore about 80 percent of these interactions."

With customers' expectations being set by the likes of Amazon, GEICO and Citibank, Mr. Keith said  it was important for businesses to raise their game in terms of service and experience delivery, citing  Gartner Research findings that more than 50 percent  of companies will implement significant business model changes to improve customer experience in 2018.

"Through modern customer segmentation, customer experience journey mapping, more strategic content on web/mobile/social media, CX Pilots helps companies know how to safeguard their existing customer base," he said, adding such improvements would also help business acquire new customers "as they take the steps to better understand the experiences customers want to have and make the shifts internally to deliver on those customer desires."
Mr. Keith, a University of Iowa graduate, said he decided to locate in Iowa City to give back to the community, access gifted consulting talent and remain equidistant to clients in Des Moines, Minneapolis, Chicago, Omaha, Kansas City and St. Louis, while maintaining a key focus on companies in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area.

 CX Pilots plans to add 12-15 consultants to the Iowa team in 2018.
Para2NFIB survey finds small business owners in an expansive mood

The National Federation of Independent Business' Small Business Optimism Index jumped two points to 106.9 in January and set a record with the number of small business owners saying now is a good time to expand, according to the group's latest
Economic Trends Survey .
On the survey, "now is a good time to expand" registered at 32 percent, the highest level in the history of the NFIB survey, which began in 1973. "Actual earnings" climbed 11 points from December, the highest level reported since 1988. "Plans to make capital outlays" jumped two points, and "plans to increase inventories" gained four points.
"Main Street is roaring," NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan stated in a press release . "Small business owners are not only reporting better profits, but they're also ready to grow and expand. The record level of enthusiasm for expansion follows a year of record-breaking optimism among small businesses."
As small business owners struggle to find qualified workers for open positions, reports of higher worker compensation rose four percentage points to a net 31 percent, the highest reading since 2000 and among the highest in the 45 years of NFIB's survey. Plans to raise compensation also rose one point to a net 24 percent, the highest reading since 1989.  
"Finding qualified workers now exceeds taxes and regulations as the top concern for small businesses," Ms. Duggan said.

To read the full survey findings, click  here.
Para32018 IdeaStorm unleashes torrent of business ideas
More than 30 University of Iowa students pitched their best business ideas at last week's 2018 IdeaStorm competition. 
More than 30 University of Iowa would-be entrepreneurs made their best pitches to a panel of judges last week and took home $1,500 in cash prizes at the spring 2018 IdeaStorm competition.

Hosted by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, the biannual event gives students up to a minute before a panel of judges and an audience to sell their best business ideas. After the presentations, judges provide immediate feedback to help improve ideas with the top five offered help to take their idea to the next level.

The top five finishers at this year's event and their winning ideas included:

  • Edo Mwenda, $500 for Prescription Drug Blockchain Platform: Provide patients with a web platform for access to prescription drug information in sub-Saharan Africa to protect them from counterfeit drugs.
  • Ben Lamar and Hunter Orthmann, $400 for Co-Clear Audio: Wireless music device for cochlear implants.
  • Bai Zhu Schmillen, $300 for DNA Possibilities: Place for DNA to be stored for the possibility finding a family member.
  • Austin Kloewer, $200 for MugShots: Coffee mugs with your own portrait.
  • Kate Yoder, $100 for Forever Green: A phone application for 4-H members and volunteers.
The next IdeaStorm will take place in the fall 2018 semester.    
pitchClock is ticking for Iowa businesses to file biennial reports  

Every business in Iowa is required to file an annual report with the Iowa Secretary of State on a biennial (every other year) basis in order to remain in good standing with the state. Accountants and Business Consultants Terry Lockridge and Dunn are reminding local businesses that 2018 is the year to file for for-profit corporations.

In the past, a post card or letter has been mailed to the registered agent for the business.

This year, the Iowa Secretary of State's office is sending the biennial report notice in the form of an email, if they have the email address on file. The email will be from the Iowa Secretary of State Business services with the subject line:2018 Biennial Report Notice.

The body of the email will have the words "Official Notice" on the top right-hand corner. It has the corporation number and a temporary code that is needed to log onto their website at to complete the report and submit the fee.

The report, and required fee, must be delivered by March 30 this year, due to April 1 being on Sunday. Failure to do so may result in administrative dissolution or revocation of the entity.
Para5Consulting: Intrapreneur Academy aims to make ideas reality

In this week's consulting spotlight, Mandy Webber of NewBoCo introduces Intrapreneur Academy, a year-long program to put entrepreneurs and businesses on the path to innovative success  
One of the biggest misconceptions about innovation is that it's something done by a lone genius. Some computer whiz comes up with an idea, usually in a basement or a garage, that ends up changing the world overnight. Their idea was so good that there was no way it couldn't succeed.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

Innovation takes work. At NewBoCo, we help people turn their ideas into reality. We've worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, students and companies to give them the resources and training they need to become successfully innovative. Our research and experience working with these groups has uncovered four key components of high-performance, innovative organizations: 
  • Culture, people & leadership: Innovation demands that leaders empower their teams to try new ideas and create a culture where ideas are allowed to fail.
  • Agile mindset: Innovation requires companies to have a mindset that demands experimentation and iteration.
  • Process & methods: Innovative companies have methods and tools that let them innovate reliably across their entire organization.
  • Strategy: Companies succeed when innovation is a core part of their organizational strategy, not just a buzzword used in meetings.
Read the full column at
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Stocks Corridor Stocks  
AEGON AEG 6.91 0.15 2.22
Alliant Energy LNT 39.06 0.95 2.49
Deere & Company DE 166.82 3.54 2.17
Dow Jones ^DJI 25200.37 306.88 1.23
General Mills GIS 56.89 0.86 1.53
GoDaddy Inc. GDDY 55.77 1.00 1.83
Great Western Bank GWB 42.26 0.27 0.64
Heartland Express HTLD 20.48 -0.01 -0.05
KemPharm KMPH 5.65 -0.45 -7.38
Marsh & McLennan MMC 82.43 0.17 0.21
MidWestOne MOFG 30.87 -0.12 -0.39
Pearson PSO 9.59 0.24 2.57
Pepsico PEP 110.97 1.86 1.70
Principal Financial PFG 62.87 -0.40 -0.63
QCR Holdings QCRH 44.10 -0.35 -0.79
Rockwell Collins COL 136.15 1.71 1.27
S&P 500 ^GSPC 2731.20 32.57 1.21
Tanger Factory SKT 21.94 0.13 0.60
Procter & Gamble PG 82.41 1.73 2.14
United Fire Group UFCS 44.28 2.89 6.98
U.S. Bank USB 55.11 -0.20 -0.36
Wells Fargo WFC 60.03 0.48 0.81
West Bank WTBA 24.50 0.05 0.20
Whirlpool WHR 176.73 5.52 3.22
Short-Term Event Planner
Feb. 15
BizMix: Kerndt Brothers Savings Bank, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Marion Chamber of Commerce, 4-6 p.m., 600 Boyson Road NE, Cedar Rapids. BizMix brings together area professionals for an evening of casual networking over complimentary hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, and is hosted by a different member business each month. Free.

Iowa City Area Chamber Annual Banquet, 5-7:30 p.m., Coralville Marriott, 300 E. Ninth St., Coralville. This annual event will spotlight the chamber's achievements in 2017 and lay out plans for the year ahead. Cost: $48 for members. Call (319) 337-9637 or email for more information or to RSVP.

Feb. 16
UI Women Faculty Development Conference, by University of Iowa, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 1220 First Ave., Coralville. Geared toward UI faculty members in health sciences, engineering, business and law, this conference will address life-work integration and improving performance in all parts of life. Cost: $60. To register, email

Small Business Administration 101, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic alliance and SBA, 8-9 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for the first session in a year-long learning series on the Small Business Administration. Learn about the SBA's various programs, services and resource partners. Free. To register, visit

Employer Panels, by ICAD Group, noon-1:30 p.m., Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Wilman St., Hiawatha. Hear directly from local experts on how to make your job search more successful. Free. RSVP to
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28
Students at Anamosa High School were relocated early today due to a security concern. A message sent to parents notified them of the precautionary move and that students were not in harm's way. "All high school students are being relocated as a precautionary measure due to a security concern," an alert sent to parents read. "ALL STUDENTS ARE SAFE!" Students have since returned to class, but some parents have picked up their children.No other schools in the district were relocated.

The grounds crew at Kinnick Stadium is making sure kids at University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital have support even in the winter. The crew shoveled a waving hand along with #SnowWave and #FTK facing the hospital. The Kinnick Wave captured the hearts of college football fans last year, as Iowa fans started a new tradition of waving to children at UI Stead at the end of the first quarter of home Hawkeye games. Head football coach Kirk Ferentz accepted the Disney Sports Spirit Award on behalf of the football program and the fans.

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

A cold front will move through late this afternoon and turn winds out of the north. Skies will clear through the night and colder air will move in. Temperatures will be in the teens and 20s Friday afternoon with plenty of sun. Another weak disturbance will move in Saturday and lead to the chance for light snow - little to no accumulation is expected. Temperatures will be in the mid-30s Saturday and low 40s Sunday.