October 15, 2020
ABI Amicus Mentioned in Iowa Supreme Court Hearings
On Wednesday, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCann et al v. Casey’s et al. ABI, through our member firm Nyemaster, wrote an amicus in support of the defendants in the case. The case is a class-action lawsuit regarding an employer’s drug testing policies and procedures. Safe workplaces, the ability to have a drug-free workplace that includes zero tolerance and a testing program, has been a legislative and regulatory priority of the association’s for many years. For more information about the case, click here. If you would like to learn more about how to support ABI’s amicus efforts, which are not included in your dues, please contact JD Davis.

REC Projecting Minuscule Budget Decline for FY21; Strong Growth for FY22
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on Tuesday and updated their latest budget projections for both Fiscal Year 2021 and 2022. The REC, a three-person panel that meets three times a year to help provide budget forecasts for the Legislature, is estimating that the budget for FY21 will be $7,911.7 billion, which is a reduction of -.2% or -$18.9 million when compared to FY20. They also projected that the budget for FY22 will be $8,230.8 billion, which is 4.0% growth or $319.1 million more than the current FY21 estimate. Members of the panel commented that there are several unknowns that could and will likely affect these numbers when the panel meets next in December including the effects of COVID-19, the derecho, a contentious election and the unemployment rate on the economy. Read more from The Des Moines Register

Environment Committee to Meet Next Week
There is still time to register for ABI’s next Environment Committee meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m. The primary focus of the meeting is to hear an update on communication enhancements within the air bureau and what to expect if you are beginning a project from Iowa DNR Environmental Services Division Administrator Ed Tormey and Air Construction Permit Supervisor Sarah Piziali. Sign up here.

Less Than Three Weeks Until Election Day!
There are just 19 days until the 2020 election takes place. Candidates ranging from those running for president of the United States to Iowa Supreme Court Justice retention and those seeking a seat on their county hospital boards will have their names on the ballot. With COVID-19 changing the landscape of the election, a record number of people are expected to cast their votes by absentee ballot. It’s critical your voice is heard, and ABI has the tools to help make that happen via our 2020 Election Center on IAVotes.com. You can view candidate comparisons, find your polling place, utilize the employer toolkit and more. Also, be sure to take into account how your state senator and state representative voted during the 88th General Assembly on business issues when looking at who to support.

Continuing Unemployment Claims and Trust Fund Payments Track Downwards
Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) announced there were 4,644 initial unemployment claims filed by individuals for the week of Oct. 4-10. Approximately $12.9 million was paid out of the state unemployment trust fund, which is about $1.9 million less than the week prior. The number of continuing unemployment claims was 46,577, which is a decrease of 4,983 claims from last week. The top sectors that saw the most initial claims filed included manufacturing (860); those not identified by industry including the self-employed, independent contractors, etc. (851); and health care and social assistance (413). Read IWD's news release.

Federal Spotlight: Supreme Court Nomination Hearings Took Place This Week
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett from Monday through today. Opening remarks were given by members of the committee and Judge Barrett herself on Monday. Committee members then took the next few days to question the nominee on a wide variety of topics ranging from her past rulings, her position on rulings where she was not involved in the case, her judicial philosophy, where she might stand on future issues brought before her should she be confirmed to the Supreme Court and more. Today there will be a committee markup and also outside consultation with another panel. It is expected the nominee could pass out of committee as early as next Thursday, and then a full vote of the Senate could occur within days after that. 
Just Announced: Intersection of Unemployment and Child Care Virtual Meeting
Join ABI on Oct. 29 for a conversation on workforce and child care. This virtual event will feature Director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Women Bureau Dr. Laurie Todd-Smith and Senior Manager of Policy and Programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Julia Barfield. You'll learn about recent survey results and what the chamber is doing to address the challenges, as well as have the opportunity to ask questions. Register now.
Webinar Series Kicks Off on October 29
ABI kicks off its new webinar series with two insight-packed webinars on Oct. 29:

Get Your E-Commerce Product Data Right: Selling Online & Supporting Your Dealer Partners
  • Time: 9 a.m.
  • Presenter: Michael Bird, CEO, Spindustry
  • Description: Often the biggest challenge to launching a successful E-Commerce website is accessing and organizing the product information. Even if your manufacturing business isn't directly selling products online, it's likely your distributors, dealers or retail partners need your support. In the past, this meant creating store displays, catalogs, literature, sale sheets and more. Today your sales channel partners need digital information: detailed product descriptions, high-resolution product images, parts-fit information and inventory availability to make online efforts work properly. If your company doesn't provide this kind of product data, your sales partners may choose to work with a manufacturer that has the best data rather than the one with better products. Learn what having proper product information for the digital age and E-Commerce means and how that will allow your business to support its own E-Commerce efforts or those of your distributors, dealers and retail partners. 

How to Turn Negative Reviews & Upset Consumers into Loyal Customers Singing Your Praises
  • Time: 11 a.m.
  • Presenter: Jonnie Wright, president and CEO, The Buyosphere
  • Description: This workshop will focus on the root cause of the explosion of negative customer reviews and feedback. Learn how companies can turn that negative energy into a competitive advantage. Learn the root cause of the growth of negative customer reviews. Explore powerful strategies and word tracks for engaging customers who feel they have been wronged. And discover how to create a customer service culture that is nearly impervious to negative online feedback. 

Register for these webinars, and see the others in the series, here. Individual registration is required for each session and is $35 for members and $45 for not-yet-members.
Young Professionals of Iowa Conference is Oct. 20-22
Young Professionals of Iowa (YPIowa), a program partner of the ABI Foundation, is taking its annual conference online, Oct. 20-22. Encourage young professionals in your organization to join YPs across the state as they discuss and discover how to find a new–and better–normal during this unique time through three engaging 90-minute sessions.

Sessions will focus on how YPs can take care of their mental health, address unconscious biases, and discover innovative ways to live and lead. Attendees can attend one, two or all three sessions, with session times varying each day. Learn more and register today.

YPIowa is an organization created by young professionals for young professionals. Its goal is to inform, educate and connect Iowa young professionals both locally in their communities and statewide as an organization.
Effectively Working with Staffing Agencies When Demand is High
Stephanie Gott
Vice President of Human Resources
Kreg Tool Company

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on our economy. While some businesses have struggled to keep their doors open, others have thrived and experienced dramatic growth in ways they could never have imagined. This is the case with Kreg Tool Company in Huxley, Iowa. As people stayed home to prevent the spread of the virus, and sports, school and other activities were cancelled, people realized they had newfound time to accomplish tasks that have been on their to-do lists, including woodworking projects.

Almost immediately after COVID became a concern in the U.S., Kreg saw an increase in demand for our products. This increase in demand lead to an increase in the number of people who were needed in our company to help manufacture, package and ship products to our customers.

One of the first steps Kreg took to meet this demand was partnering with our staffing agencies. While we have always used staffing agencies to provide us with temporary associates when needed, prior to COVID, we utilized between 10 to 15 temps at any given time. Today, we have nearly 100 temps placed with us and have continued needs into the remainder of the year to add to that number.

This was an unprecedented staffing need that Kreg has never faced before, which required creativity and innovation to accomplish our goals. Here are some of the steps we took...Read more.
Editor's note: "Trends to Watch: 2021" is a special pop-up column that will run through the end of the year. In it, Advisory Council members will share trends you should be aware of as you prepare your business for 2021.
Valuations for Gifting Amidst Political Uncertainty
Jackson Arndt, Financial Analyst
BCC Advisers
Business valuations for gifting purposes are particularly relevant now due to uncertainty surrounding the upcoming election and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). The increased gift and estate tax exemption provided by the TCJA could end before its scheduled expiration in 2025.
Valuations may currently be lower due to economic and political uncertainty. Lower potential valuations coupled with allowable discounts present opportunities to leverage the valuable gift and estate tax exemption of $11.58 million. Valuing a business ensures accurate transfers without an excessive burden on the recipient.
For example, say a business owner gifted shares of their business valued at $1 million, but at the time of their death those shares appreciated in value to $5 million. By gifting early, the owner only used $1 million of their tax exemption. Assuming the estate would be a taxable estate, the $4 million gain escaped a 40% estate tax, for a savings of $1.6 million.
Increased gift tax exemptions paired with lower values create a unique opportunity to efficiently transfer assets and ownership interests. However, the window may be closing; the favorable gift tax environment is unlikely to last forever. Now is the time to act.

  • Barooshian, Laura; et al. “Uncertain Times Present Opportunity to Gift.” DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP. 24 Aug. 2020. <www.dgccpa.com>.
  • Bauer, Robert; et al. “How Family Businesses Can Come Out on Top in Election Uncertainty.” Kansas City Business Journal. 1 May 2020. <www.bizjournals.com>.
Joseph M. Hallman Joins McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC
MVS is excited to announce Joseph M. Hallman has joined MVS as an intellectual property attorney in the mechanical & electrical practice areas. Hallman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Iowa with an emphasis on software engineering and minors in computer science, mathematics and Spanish. During and immediately following his undergraduate studies, he worked as a software developer in the Des Moines area where he honed his technical skills while working on complex software applications. Read the full news release.
AGP Announces New CFO and Vice President of Operations Succeeding Two Retirements 
Ag Processing Inc (AGP) has announced two new leaders succeeding two retirements at the end of the calendar year. Kyle Droescher, vice president of finance, has been selected to be AGP’s next group vice president and CFO starting in January 2021. Droescher will begin his new role following Scott Simmelink’s retirement at the end of the year. Lou Rickers has been promoted to vice president of operations. He will succeed Ernie Kiley, who will also be retiring at the end of 2020. Read the full news release.

MākuSafe Doubles Size, Fueled by Funding and Product Deployments
MākuSafe, a safety technology company providing workforce wearables and analytics, has recently doubled in size through strategic hires and capital investments. Since the beginning of 2020, the award-winning startup has scaled up manufacturing, officially launched its product, introduced new contact tracing features and added key staff to its team. The growth has been fueled by a total of nearly $10 million in investment funding and successful test pilots. Read the full news release.