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Tickers: March 12


Spartech Corp., a Missouri-based plastics manufacturer that employs 38 people at a factory in Pleasant Hill, said it has suspended its regular cash dividend in order to increase its financial flexibility. The company, which is based in a St. Louis suburb, reported sales of $1.4 billion in fiscal 2008.

Iowa State University students took two of the top three prizes in the statewide Pappajohn New Venture Business Plan Competition. Corey Kliewer, a freshman majoring in agriculture and systems technology, received $5,000 for Hired Hands, which assembles agriculture equipment when it arrives from the factory for short-line dealers. A team of Iowa State graduate students in mechanical engineering received $5,000 for their company, Avello Bioenergy Inc., which is in the early start-up phase and will specialize in the conversion of biomass into liquid bio-oil through fast pyrolysis. Zach Hedrington, a student at the University of Northern Iowa, won the third prize.

The Lutheran Church of Hope will host a job fair and workshops this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon at 925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines. Workshops include how to write an effective resume, job search strategies in a difficult market and developing effective interview skills. Click here to register.

Foreclosures were up 30 percent last month from February 2008 and 6 percent from January 2009, according to RealtyTrac Inc.’s latest report. The number of default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions totaled 290,631 in February. Iowa had 579 filings, a 22.41 percent increase from the year-earlier period. Nevada, Arizona and California had the top foreclosure rates. For the complete report, go to www.realtytrac.com.

Davenport-based newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Inc. predicted “weak” earnings for 2009 and projected cost cuts of more than $100 million, the Associated Press reported. The comments were made at Lee’s annual investors meeting Tuesday. With cost reductions that will put the company’s cash costs at 12 to 13 percent below last year’s level, aggressive sales initiatives, a strong presence in local markets and other measures, Lee said it is positioned to weather the recession. Shareholders approved a measure that would give Lee’s board the authority to enact a reverse stock split and re-elected three directors.

The Interrobang Film Festival is accepting film submissions for its event at the Des Moines Arts Festival June 26-28 in Western Gateway Park. Submissions are due by May 8. Categories for entry include features, shorts, documentary and free form. Visit www.interrobangfilm.org for more information.

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