October 17, 2019
ABI Leaders in Washington
Pictured: ABI leaders and staff met with Sen. Joni Ernst in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Photo by Ben Watson, press assistant to Sen. Ernst.

ABI leaders and staff are currently in Washington, D.C. meeting with Iowa congressional leaders on issues important to Iowa employers. The attendees have already met with the delegation and are rounding out the trip with an afternoon of briefings followed by a morning breakfast with Gov. Reynolds’ Washington liaison, Stephanie Groen. Look for a recap in an upcoming newsletter. You can follow the #ABIDC19 hashtag on Twitter to see photos from the trip. 

ABI Sends Letter to City of Waterloo
On Monday, Ryan Koopmans of ABI member firm BelinMcCormick sent a  letter  on ABI’s behalf to Waterloo City Council members stating the association’s concerns with the newly enacted, wide-sweeping Ban the Box ordinance. ABI has members in all 99 counties across the state, and we worked hard in 2017 to pass preemption legislation. The legislation ensures that cities and counties cannot implement a patchwork of employment policies. ABI will continue to monitor this issue and update ABI members in Waterloo and around the state as to any developments on the policy. Read more .

Insurance Commissioner Approves NCCI Proposal on Work Comp Rates
Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen  signed off  on the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) Aug. 30, 2019 workers' compensation rate filing with an overall decrease of 3.0%. The voluntary and assigned risk rates will be effective on Jan. 1, 2020. Rates have consistently gone down since 2017 with an average 24.8% decrease overall since that point in time. 

Revenue Estimating Conference Predicts Growth
On Monday, the REC projected steady growth for FY20 and FY21, but suggested caution as the state’s economy continues to move forward. The three-person panel is predicting 1.4% growth over the current fiscal year for a little more than $7.966 billion in FY20. They suggested FY21 will reach 2.7% growth for state tax collections of $8.182 billion. The panel mentioned issues such as the lack of skilled workers for the manufacturing and construction sectors, trade disputes harming the ag economy and other geopolitical affairs as reasons for exercising prudence with the budget. The panel will meet again in December to provide recommendations that the Legislature and the governor will use in forming their FY20 budget proposals.

EASY Air Workshop Next Month
The DNR will host a Strategic Goals Program Workshop entitled “EASY Air, Water Optimization & RCRA Inspections and Waste Determinations” on Nov. 13. You’ll learn about the DNR’s new air quality online permitting system EASY Air. There will also be a discussion regarding efficient ways that water use can be optimized in manufacturing facilities, and a conversation pertaining to the RCRA inspection process and how to make a waste determination. The workshop will take place at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ankeny from 9 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. The cost is $40, which includes lunch.  View  the full agenda, flyer and registration.

Workforce Housing Tax Credits Available for Counties Under Disaster Declaration
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced Tuesday that $10 million in workforce housing tax credits are now available for counties that have been issued a Presidential Disaster declaration and are qualified housing projects. The funding, which is part of the Empower Rural Iowa initiative, is crucial to help homeowners rebuild following devastating flooding in Iowa this year. Most of the 10 eligible counties are located along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. There are certain  stipulations  that projects must meet. Applications are being accepted at  iowagrants.gov . If you have further questions, contact  Nichole Hansen  at the IEDA.

Federal Spotlight: Trump Announces Phase 1 Trade Agreement With China
President Trump proclaimed the United States and China have made a big step forward in trade talks as a “phase 1” deal was announced in the Oval Office last Friday. This agreement is the first move forward toward a more comprehensive accord between the world’s largest economic powers. Part of the deal included the U.S. calling off an increase in tariffs that was initially supposed to occur this past Tuesday. The president also said other aspects of the deal include resolutions on intellectual property and financial services, and China purchasing up to $50 billion worth of agricultural commodities from farmers. There will be a formal signing between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the near future. In a  release , Gov. Reynolds said she was encouraged by the news and, to build off of this gain, urged Congress to ratify the USMCA.   
Mark Your Calendar, Make Your Reservation
If you haven't already, be sure to mark your calendar for June 9-11, 2020. ABI's annual conference is heading to Cedar Rapids next year. It's ABI's largest event and offers the very best networking for business leaders in Iowa.

We strongly encourage you to make your hotel reservations now. The host hotel for #abicon20 is filling up fast. Visit the annual conference webpage and click on the "Hotels" tab for lodging options and a special group code.
How Solar Energy is Helping One Iowa Manufacturer Hire and Retain Top Talent, Reduce Operating Costs, and Stay Ahead of the Competition
Troy Van Beek
Founder & CEO
Ideal Energy

In his book On Competition, Michael Porter wrote that, “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.” If your company has a strategy, as opposed to what Porter called operational effectiveness, you can build higher barriers to competition by creating a unique position for yourself. This can yield higher profits than operational effectiveness-based approaches.

The advanced manufacturing firm  Agri-Industrial Plastics Company  (AIP) of Fairfield, Iowa, is taking this approach with a future-facing energy initiative. The company is using a new on-site power plant featuring a combination of solar energy and a Tesla Powerpack battery system to reduce operating costs, attract top hires and gain competitive bids by staking out a cutting-edge, sustainability-focused position. Read more .
Loree Nelson Joins BrownWinick Law Firm
BrownWinick is excited to announce that Loree Nelson has joined the firm as a member. Nelson practices primarily in the area of medical malpractice defense and focuses on the areas of civil litigation and trial work. She has a general insurance defense practice, which includes medical malpractice, professional licensing issues and personal injury matters She also provides expertise to individuals in both complex and simple litigation.
Qualified Business Income Seminar for Business Owners is Nov. 6
Focus OneSource will host a free seminar, Qualified Business Income (QBI), on Nov. 6, 5 p.m., at 2929 Westown Parkway in West Des Moines. The seminar is geared toward business owners and will be led by Angela Reed, CPA with Tarbell & Co., PLC. Learn how QBI is defined under IRS code, what may qualify as QBI, information about QBI and Iowa 2019 tax returns, and more. Call 515-369-7550 to reserve your seat.

Seminar for Top Decision-makers Coming to Fairfield
"The Journey to Your Vision" seminar, presented by Iowa Farm Bureau's Renew Rural Iowa,  will be Nov. 12 at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. Every business faces peaks and valleys as it progresses through stages of growth. Do you know what stage your business is in and how you can reach the next level? Attend this valuable one-day seminar to help stack the odds in your favor by understanding the stages of business growth, their unique challenges and methods to overcome them.  Learn more .

Foreign-Trade Zone Seminar is Nov. 20 in Des Moines
Business, industry and economic development officials: Learn more about establishing and partnering for the benefits of a Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ). An FTZ is a zone authorized as exempt from many regular U.S. Customs rules and regulations. There are many benefits for importers, including improved cash flow, increased global logistics efficiency, reduced redundant or unnecessary logistics costs, and retained flexibility. The FTZ seminar is Nov. 20, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. It's sponsored by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Area Development Group and the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Register now .

Winnebago Industries Strengthens Commitment to Safety by Becoming a Member of the National Safety Council
Winnebago Industries, Inc., a leading outdoor lifestyle product manufacturer, announced Tuesday the company has become a member of the National Safety Council, further underscoring a commitment to the safety of its employees and the community at large. Winnebago Industries has previously been a member of the Iowa-Illinois Safety Council chapter of the National Safety Council for more than 35 years. Read the full news release .