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Developer Bob Knapp owes more than $8 million in principal and interest on loans for the restoration of the Equitable Buidling, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Polk County District Court seeking to foreclose on the downtown landmark. Vantus Bank seeks personal guarantees that Knapp and investors made on the loans. Knapp bought the property in 2005 and has sold three high-end condominiums and rented retail and office space.

The factory sector contracted again in April, but the pace of decline slowed, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) index released today. The index rose to 40.1 percent from 36.3 percent in March, the highest level since September. Economists had predicted a 39.1 percent reading, MarketWatch reported. A score under 50 indicates that surveyed firms believe that business is getting worse. The ISM has been below 50 for 15 straight months. The new orders index rose to 47.2 percent from 41.2 percent in March. The production index rose to 40.4 percent from 36.4 percent in March. The employment index increased to 34.4 percent from 28.1 percent in March.

Maureen Boesen, widow of Des Moines businessman Ed Boesen, is in default on a $600,000 mortgage and should lose the home at 3409 Beaver Ave. as a result, according to a lawsuit filed by AmTrust Bank in Polk County District Court. Ed Boesen committed suicide last July, and since that time his wife, his estate and a number of business entities have been the target of lawsuits, most seeking to collect on loans made for development deals in Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska. According to the AmTrust lawsuit, Maureen Boesen has been in arrears on the mortgage, first obtained in 2004 from Valley Bank, since at least December. The loan was assigned to AmTrust on Jan. 29. AmTrust also names First National Bank Midwest as a defendant because it holds a $703,000 mortgage issued in May 2008.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that an alternate size standard for its 7(a) loan program will go into effect early next week. The new standard, which is expected to make the program available to 70,000 additional small businesses, will be effective through Sept. 30, 2010. To qualify, a company’s net worth can’t be more than $8.5 million and average net income after taxes, excluding any carry-over losses, for the preceding two years can’t be more than $3 million. For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, click here.

The Iowa Council for International Understanding is seeking nominations for three honorees to be recognized at its annual Passport to Prosperity: A Celebration of Iowa’s Immigrants and Refugees event. To be eligible, a person must have been born outside the United States and have lived in Iowa at least three years and have made a significant contribution to Iowa communities. Nominations are due June 1; the event will be held Oct. 3. For more information, go to www.iciu.org.

The Downtown Farmers’ Market will open its season this Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon in the Court Avenue District downtown. Nearly 200 vendors from 49 Iowa counties will be present throughout the summer. A complete list is at www.desmoinesfarmersmarket.com.

Greater Des Moines companies and their employees will participate in Rebuild Together Day 2009 tomorrow, helping to repair more than 50 homes in need of maintenance and repair. For more information, go to www.rebuildingtogetherdesmoines.org.

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