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Tuesday PM Business Record Daily | July 14, 2020



Tuesday PM Daily | July 14, 2020


Publisher’s Note:

Due to a technical issue with our e-newsletter service provider, links in today’s PM Daily are working on an intermittent basis. If you run into an issue attempting to follow a link, we have posted a version of today’s PM Daily on our website at the following URL: www.businessrecord.com/BRD. Even this link might not work, so you should copy and paste it directly into your browser. Yes, just a little bit of a pivot, but after a few months of a global pandemic, we’re sure you can handle a little extra adversity. Thank you for your patience, and for continuing to support the Business Record. 
– Chris Conetzkey, publisher and executive editor 




NEWSROOM 515: Accelerating entrepreneurs of color in Iowa

Entrepreneurs of color are building wealth in their communities through local storefronts, high-growth startups, and innovation in industry and manufacturing. Business ownership in communities is considered a crucial marker by researchers studying the U.S.’s systemic wealth gap, and the ongoing success of minority-owned businesses is considered an effective tool in equalizing the wealth gap. How do we help these entrepreneurs continue to rise? Join us tomorrow for a conversation exploring available resources, structural challenges and the personal experiences of our creative and passionate founders in Iowa. 

DATE:Wednesday, July 15
TIME: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Zoom registration



While travel at the Des Moines International Airport increased between May and June, July numbers are remaining near prior month’s levels. With confirmed coronavirus cases continuing to rise, airport officials are beginning to express concern about earlier recovery projections. Photo by Duane Tinkey.


DSM airport officials concerned about recovery projections as infection rates rise
By Michael Crumb| Senior Staff Writer

The Des Moines International Airport is seeing small increases in the number of travelers passing through its gates, but as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, officials say earlier projections of reaching up to 65% capacity by the end of the year may be a “little aggressive.”

Air travel plummeted in March as states shut down to slow the spread of the pandemic, and in April, Congress approved the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security act, with $10 billion earmarked to offset losses at U.S. airports. The Des Moines International Airport received $23 million of the $70 million allocated to Iowa airports as part of the CARES Act funding.

As states began to loosen restrictions and reopened in May, airports began to see small improvements in the number of travelers passing through their gates.

Des Moines recorded 31,320 passengers in May, down 88% compared with May 2019. There was marked improvement in June, with 63,688 passengers, down about 76% from June of last year. That improvement continued into July, especially the July 4 weekend, when air travel was down only 54% from the prior year, airport spokesperson Kayla Kovarna said.

But for the rest of July so far, numbers are hovering around June levels, she said.

“While it’s a significant drop month to month [from May to June], it is still down compared to when we were looking at 265,609 passengers in June 2019,” Kovarna said. 

She said initial projections that the airport could return to 65% percent capacity by the end of 2020 may be a “little aggressive,” given the continued increases in confirmed cases of the coronavirus. 

“But we’re watching it really closely,” Kovarna said.

Iowa reported another 368 confirmed cases on Monday, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the state to more than 35,800. More than 750 people have died. Nationally, more than 3.3 million confirmed cases have been reported, with more than 135,000 deaths.

Another factor the airport considers is what destinations are popular for Iowans, she said.

“Our top destinations, many of them are in the state of Florida,” Kovarna said. “Phoenix, Arizona, is a big one as well. So we’re not looking only at what’s happening in Iowa, but where Iowans want to go, and is it a risk level?”

Nichelle Barrett, a spokesperson for American Airlines, said late Monday that the airline is not making any changes to its Des Moines flights because of spiking COVID-19 cases in other states.

Dan Landson, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, also said that no changes are planned, and that demand is increasing to locations where restrictions have been lifted. Officials with Allegiant Air said that no changes are planned but that the airline is consistently monitoring demand and will adjust its schedule when necessary.

As the airport continues to adapt to the changing landscape caused by the coronavirus, Kovarna said it continues to implement FAA recommendations to keep passengers safe, such as frequent sanitizing and encouraging use of masks and hand sanitizer.

“At the end of the day, we’re doing everything we can to keep passengers safe,” Kovarna said. “But it’s truly up to everyone to stop the spread, so we request that all passengers wear a mask as they’re entering the terminal and sanitizing their hands as frequently as possible, because it’s really up to each individual to stop the spread.”

Staffing at the airport had returned to normal in June, but smaller departments, such as the building engineer team, have reverted back to a leaner schedule where fewer are working at the same time to reduce the risk of exposure, Kovarna said.

“Depending on how cases continue to increase, or if they flatten or decrease, we will adjust staffing as needed,” she said.

Concourse A, which had been closed, has fully reopened in recent weeks as flights returned, she said.

The airport also moved forward with construction of a remote coffee shop and bar at Gate C5, with it scheduled to open Wednesday.

While there has been no confirmed coronavirus cases among airport staff, a parking vendor employee tested positive in May, and an employee of the airport restaurant Portermill tested positive last month. Neither person came in contact with anyone else. The parking vendor employee was off but did visit an area in the parking office, and that area was sanitized as a precaution. The restaurant worker had not been at work for several days, Kovarna said.

She described the lack of contact by the two employees as “fortunate,” and said, “Knock on wood, we’re continuing to stay strong and there have been no other reported cases of confirmed COVID.”

Harris named president of Grinnell College

Grinnell College announced today its board of trustees has named Anne Harris as the college’s 14th president. Harris, who joined Grinnell College last year as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, has been the acting president since July 1 and will assume office immediately. 

Harris, Grinnell’s second female president, spent nearly 20 years at DePauw University in Indiana as a faculty member and eventually vice president for academic affairs before coming to Grinnell in 2019. The private liberal arts college in Grinnell enrolls about 1,700 students from around the world. 

Her unanimous appointment by the board of trustees follows the successful tenure of Raynard Kington, who led the college for a decade before becoming head of school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., earlier this summer. 

“Anne Harris is a scholar, a teacher, a leader and a builder — without question, she is precisely the right president for Grinnell College at this time in our history,” said David Maxwell, chair of the Grinnell College board of trustees. “She is consistently guided by Grinnell’s institutional values of excellence, diversity and social responsibility, dealing gracefully and decisively with hard issues as the college navigates the challenges before it, and recognizes Grinnell as a place where we can experience and investigate, where we can deliberate and discern, and where we can put our values, knowledge and commitment together for the greater good.”

As vice president for academic affairs, Harris worked in partnership with more than 200 faculty members to deliver on Grinnell’s academic mission, the college said in a press release. In this role, she led a number of initiatives tied to the excellence, health and well-being of the Grinnell community, including directing the academic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting the development and implementation of a First Year Experience, chairing the search for a chief diversity officer, and overseeing the implementation of a $1 million Mellon Foundation Humanities in Action grant. 

Harris holds bachelor’s degrees in art history and classical languages from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., and master’s and doctoral degrees in art history from the University of Chicago. She is married to Michael Mackenzie and they are the parents of Oliver, Iris, and Marlo.

Her appointment comes after an extensive and rigorous national search that resulted in more than 30 multiround interviews of candidates from peer institutions, Grinnell officials said. 



Small Business Recovery Grants through Greater Des Moines Partnership announced
More than 200 Central Iowa businesses have been awarded grants through the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Small Business Recovery Grant Program. The program, in collaboration with the cities of Des Moines, Urbandale, Johnston, Indianola, Norwalk, West Des Moines, Clive, Windsor Heights and Carlisle, and Polk and Warren counties, was launched in May to help small business owners with fewer than 30 employees recover from restrictions that were placed on their operations because of the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible businesses received grants from $1,000 to $5,000. In Des Moines, grant amounts were increased to as much as $10,000 because of the availability of Community Development Block Grant funds.The combination of funds through the public and private partnership totaled more than $2.6 million. Only the city of Des Moines, where 140 businesses were awarded grants, released the grant amounts. The other communities decided not to release individual grant amounts, officials at the Greater Des Moines Partnership said. The Des Moines grant recipients can be viewed by clicking here.  Businesses in other metro communities that were awarded grants can be found here.

Economic Recovery Advisory Board’s Government Working Group to meet Wednesday
One of the working groups of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board is scheduled to meet Wednesday. The Government Working Group is scheduled to meet from 10 a.m. to noon. It is one of seven working groups created under the advisory board to help move the state forward in its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. According to working group co-chair Emily Schmitt, general counsel of Sukup Manufacturing, the mission of the Government Working Group is to discuss how Iowans and Iowa businesses interact with state and local government, and to discuss how services should be provided. The public is invited to join the meeting online at https://meet.google.com/zao-enqz-ath, or by calling (470) 499-2341. If calling in by phone, use the pin 492 725 777#. Although there won’t be an opportunity for public comment, people can give their feedback on the governor’s website.  

AM Best affirms strength, outlook ratings for American Enterprise Group 
American Enterprise Group Inc., a Des Moines-based insurance group, announced that ratings agency AM Best recently affirmed the Financial Strength Ratings of A- (Excellent) and the positive outlooks of its six insurance company subsidiaries that operate under the American Republic, Medico and Great Western Insurance Co. brands. “In a year when financial strength and stability is critical to weathering economic challenges, we are honored to have AM Best continue to acknowledge our strong financial profile and positive outlook,” said Tom Swank, AEG’s CEO. According to AM Best, the rating affirmations of AEG’s insurance company subsidiaries reflect the group’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. 

BrokerTech Ventures partners with insurance journal Leader’s Edge
BrokerTech Ventures, a broker-led convening platform and accelerator program, announced it has formed a sponsored partnership with Leader’s Edge magazine, the award-winning content platform of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers. Through this partnership, BrokerTech Ventures and Leader’s Edge will create and deliver newsworthy, educational content for the insurtech and insurance industry through vlogs, blogs, editorial articles, and webinar opportunities. BrokerTech Ventures, developed by Holmes Murphy, launched its first accelerator cohort in January. “Leader’s Edge is a highly respected magazine and a household name in the commercial insurance industry,” said Susan Hatten, BrokerTech Ventures chief operating officer and Holmes Murphy director of corporate community engagement. “We believe the Leader’s Edge mission of exploring risk in an ever-changing world aligns perfectly with our vision at BrokerTech Ventures to represent the voice of the broker through the lens of innovation.” Founded in 2004, Leader’s Edge is read by the top commercial insurance and employee benefits brokers across the globe.

Correction: An item in today’s AM Daily misspelled the name of Easterseals’ president and CEO. She is Sherri Nielsen.


Test Iowa audit says coronavirus test-reporting process illegal, risky
Cedar Rapids Gazette: The process for reporting coronavirus results under the $26 million Test Iowa Initiative is illegal and creates opportunities for fraud and errors, the state’s auditor asserted today. Auditor Rob Sand, issuing his staff’s findings and speaking with reporters during a virtual news conference, expressed concern that the program’s reporting process is unnecessarily time-consuming — putting state health officials fourth in line to learn about positive virus test results and delaying contact tracers from chasing down others who may have been exposed.

Wells Fargo posts its first quarterly loss since the financial crisis
Business Insider: Wells Fargo announced second quarter earnings today that fell below analyst expectations and revealed the coronavirus’ heavy toll on profitability. The bank had a net loss of $2.4 billion over the three-month period, marking its first quarterly loss since 2008. Much of the slide was fueled by a record addition to its loan loss reserves. Wells Fargo increased its credit loss reserves by $8.4 billion to $9.5 billion, topping the $4.9 billion estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank also cut its dividend to 10 cents per share from 51 cents, below the expected cut to 20 cents. 

– Automakers grapple with worker no-shows as COVID-19 cases surge (Wall Street Journal)
– Hospitals stock up on COVID-19 drugs to prepare for second wave (Wall Street Journal)


This is the ideal age to retire, according to experts

Ladders: There’s been a lot of research conducted lately about older Americans continuing to work into their golden years, but not nearly as much in respect to how long it’s feasible to do so. New research published in the Lancet Public Health journal derived from the 15,284 men and women aged 50 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing between 2002 and 2013 might have an answer. According to the data, a 50-year-old worker can expect to be healthy and to continue working for approximately nine more years.




Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges: 98 Years Old, Powerful and Tricky

Anyone who is still around from the Warren Harding administration is entitled to some respect. And maybe even a bit of … fear? The tax law’s “like-kind exchange” provision—popularly known as “Section 1031 exchanges” after its current home in the Internal Revenue Code—may indeed be ancient, but it remains spry enough to be a great tax planning tool.  




North Dakota urges court to halt Dakota Access Pipeline shutdown
North Dakota is urging a federal appeals court to block a judge’s order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. North Dakota Solicitor General Matt Sagsveen filed a document Monday supporting operator Energy Transfer’s efforts to keep the oil line open while the Texas-based company appeals. The Bismarck Tribune reports that federal officials who approved the pipeline’s permit notified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that they also plan to oppose the judge’s order. Read more




Thunderstorms likely. A few storms may be severe. Low 67. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall near an inch.

Thunderstorms likely in the morning. Then a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 78. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.

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The Iowa Index is an unweighted average of all Iowa-based public companies. Below is a live look at those Iowa companies, plus additional companies with large operations in Iowa.


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