Tag: 022515

Iowa Bankers Release Economic Forecast Survey

The Iowa Bankers Association has developed a new survey, The Iowa Bankers Association Economic Forecast, to gauge the economic outlook in Iowa.
“There are a number of economic surveys, but few focus specifically on Iowa and its unique market segments,” said John Sorensen, president and CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association.
“By surveying Iowa’s bankers, we’ll receive an accurate barometer of our economy from those who work daily to support our consumers, businesses and agriculture.”
About the Survey
The first survey was conducted in January, and included banks that are geographically diverse and represent small, mid-size, and large metro markets. The survey asked the bankers to provide feedback on their predictions for the next six months on economic growth in their communities, the hiring outlook, marketplace changes, loan demand, interest rates and challenges to economic growth.
The survey will be conducted every six months to evaluate changing trends.
Key Forecast Highlights
A summary of the key highlights from the January 2015 survey:
1. Economic Growth Forecast: The majority of respondents (52%) were optimistic that the Iowa economy would grow in the next six months, and even more (57%) were optimistic about growth in their local economy during the same time period.
2. Hiring Outlook: The majority of respondents also expected businesses in their communities to maintain current staffing levels (57%) or hire employees (38%).
3. Marketplace Predictions: In the next six months, most anticipated expansion in the housing sector (43%) and service business sector (43%), while also anticipating contraction in the ag sector (57%).
4. Loan Demand Outlook: Most respondents anticipated loan demand would be strongest in the next six months for agricultural operating loans (48 percent) and weakest for agriculture real estate loans (52%).
5. Interest Rate Forecast: A strong majority (76%) expected interest rates to remain unchanged in the next six months, for both long-term and short-term interest rates.
6. Local Economic Challenges: The most significant challenge respondents predicted for their local economy was finding and retaining a skilled workforce. A lack of necessary skills was anticipated to be the primary barrier to hiring in the next six months. Respondents also predicted the regulatory climate would be the most significant factor to impact business startups.

March 5 Job Fair Seeks to Aid Displaced Workers

IowaWORKS Cedar Valley and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber are partnering to sponsor a job fair in response to the layoffs at several prominent employers in the Waterloo area. This hiring event will be held Thursday, March 5, 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. It is open to the public.
WHAT: Job Fair for Dislocated Workers
WHEN: Thursday, March 5, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
WHERE: Waterloo Center for the Arts, downtown Waterloo
This hiring event will feature more than 25 employers eager to hire for immediate openings in a wide range of fields. Individuals are encouraged to come “dressed to impress” and bring a copies of their resumes and a positive attitude to meet potential new employers.
To help job seekers prepare for the hiring event, IowaWORKS Cedar Valley will hold workshops March 2-4 at their offices, 3420 University Avenue, Waterloo. Topics include job search strategies, resume writing, and successful interviewing. Job seekers can register for these complimentary workshops by calling 319-235-2123.
Employers are encouraged to register as soon as possible to ensure a spot for this high profile event. For more information about this event, call IowaWORKS Cedar Valley at 319-235-2123.
IowaWORKS Cedar Valley is a partnership between Hawkeye Community College and Iowa Workforce Development.

Practical Money Matters – February 25, 2015

By Jason Alderman
Making Sure Loved Ones Are Prepared for Their Retirement Years
What if a sudden, debilitating illness, fraud or economic downturn affected your senior family member’s retirement, estate or long-term care issues? Would you be prepared to take over?
If the answer is no, you’re not alone. According to 2013 research from the Pew Research Center, four in ten U.S. adults are caring for a loved one with significant health issues.
Don’t wait for a crisis to initiate this conversation. Starting early can help you plan and even safeguard your own career and retirement planning. Here are some suggestions for starting the conversation:
Identify the missing links. Find information gaps you need to fill to help your senior relative plan for retirement. If key financial information – investment and banking accounts, legal documents or doctors’ contact information – is missing, list any and all unknowns to be researched and compiled.
Schedule a family financial meeting. Schedule a specific day and time and create an agenda that meets the needs of your senior relative. It is not always necessary to involve all direct family members in a preliminary discussion, but make sure that relevant individuals are aware of the meeting. After helping your senior relative assess his or her financial situation, make sure to identify next steps and responsibilities.
Locate important financial documents. Ask your senior relative to show you where his or her key documents and accounts are, such as retirement and pension information, checkbooks, investment statements, insurance policies and legal and estate data. Find out where incoming bills are kept in case you have to step in and help manage monthly bills.
Consider seeking financial counseling. Any number of reasons, from illness to fraud, may explain losing control of personal finances. If your relative has been working with a qualified financial or tax advisor, the family team should consider meeting with him or her if a need arises. If outside tax, financial or legal help is needed, the team and your senior relative should discuss who those professionals should be, what their fees are and what you expect them to do.
Make and agree on a plan. After all the information gathering and discussion is complete, make a plan – in writing, if possible – to review the senior’s wishes, set an action plan and assign responsibilities as necessary. As mentioned above, you should review this plan every year. And if problems emerge in any topic area from retirement to health issues, logon to practicalmoneyskills.com/personalfinance/ where you’ll find guidance throughout the Practical Money Skills for Life website .
Bottom line: Asking older relatives about retirement, estate and long-term care preparations can be an uncomfortable conversation. Making a plan and initiating early conversations to involve the right people can ease the financial strain and stress on everyone involved.

Meditations – February 25, 2015

By Pastor Jenna Couch Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee
If you had to answer the question, “What kinds of things are you tempted by in this world,” how would you answer?
Maybe some would be able to name the temptation right away, while others might have to think about it.
There are many temptations in this world everyday; some are easy to resist, while others may be harder. But, temptation is everywhere.
Some of the pastors in the Jubilee Conference are involved in a book study in Cedar Falls. We just started “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.
If you’ve never read it before, it’s a chilling but fascinating story. It’s about two devils from the underworld; Screwtape, who is writing letters to his nephew Wormwood, advising him on how to properly tempt a “patient” as they call him. This “patient” starts out as an atheist, which makes it easier for Wormwood to manipulate his thoughts, but so far in the first seven letters, the “patient” became a Christian, which grieved Wormwood and his uncle, but they aren’t letting up.
The advice that is given in these letters is utterly disturbing, but it gives the reader quite a bit of foresight about how the temptation process works. An overarching theme that Screwtape gives his nephew is to continue to find ways to get the “patient” to turn in on himself. As uncomfortable as some of this is to read, it’s a pretty adequate description of the ways in which temptations can pull us away from God and turn us in on ourselves. And when we turn in on ourselves, we die. Sooner or later, we die a rather lonely death because life had been consumed with 1 person; ourselves.
I realize that this book probably isn’t sounding like a great book for a pastor, or Christian for that matter, to be reading, but I promise you….there is MUCH Gospel to be proclaimed in this book. Even while Screwtape would have his nephew Wormwood believe that everything God is and stands for is to be considered The Enemy, as God is frequently referred to in this book; what he is portraying as bad or opposing qualities, we uphold as Holy.
I’d like to share an excerpt from the book that better conveys what I’m talking about here.
“To us, a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense.
But the obedience which [God] demands of its [humans] is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for [humans] and His service being perfect freedom is not (as one would gladly believe) more propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become [children.] We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; [God] wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.” (C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, pp.38-39).
Here, Screwtape is lamenting to Wormwood about how God operates in this world. Their goal is to try to convince their “patient” that nothing and no one else in the world matters more than their patient’s own feelings or thoughts. They know that God is genuine, and that God calls people to places bigger than themselves. And that infuriates them. They can’t compete with benevolence and God’s call to people thinking outside of themselves. That thwarts their evil plot to dominate people with their own twisted selfishness.
Whatever temptations that are out there; they are a part of life, but they are something wholly other than what God has intended for us as God’s children.
Now, while C.S. Lewis’ book is fiction, there is beautiful truth in the way he describes God. God IS overflowing. God does call us to serve and God has united us together as part of creation through Christ. And that’s the “good news” that Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming. Jesus called people to repent and to believe. Both are things that render Screwtape and Wormwood utterly powerless.
Jesus is still very present in this world today, still proclaiming the message to us that God’s kingdom has come near; calling us to repent and believe in the Good News. As the Screwtape letters indicate; there is far more power in belief in God than in temptation; for they are utterly powerless against God and God’s work through us.
So when we pray later today, and week after week “Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil,” we pray with a confidence that no power on earth can ever compete with a God whose giving for creation is overflowing with love.

Hawkins’ Happenings – February 25, 2015

By Jolene Kronschnabel
Children won’t want to miss a monstrous Story Time on Thursday, February 26, at 10:30 AM. Preschoolers will read entertaining and silly monster stories, sing monster songs, and make monsters – not scary ones though!
Bring any type of craft or handwork and join others for conversation and inspiration from 1 to 3 PM on Thursday, February 26, at Hawkins’ Handcrafters.
LEGORAMA! Our new LEGO building program begins on Tuesday, March 3, from 4 to 5 PM. Sign up now to join us in creating robots in March with bins of new and exciting LEGO pieces. For ages 3 years and older.
101 Dalmatians (1961 animated version) is the flick showing at the library on Wednesday, March 4, at 1:15 PM. When a litter of Dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.
Swim into Story Time to read about fish on Thursday, March 5. There are plenty of fishy books and fun doings for preschoolers at 10:30 AM.
Send in your 2nd or 3rd grader for the Reading is Fun Book Club, meeting on Thursday, March 5, at 4 PM. All they need to do is read a chapter book so they can tell the other readers about it. It is a great way to share good books!
Limited selections of Federal income tax forms are now available at the library.
Designate Hawkins Memorial Library as your favorite charitable organization on AmazonSmile. This is an automatic way to support the library at no cost to you when you shop amazon.com. To choose your charity, sign in to smile.amazon.com, select “Change your Charity” in your account, type Hawkins Memorial Library, and select City of La Porte City. Thank you.
The library is in need of donations of LEGOS and Duplo Blocks for our LEGORAMA program, and t-shirts in good condition in children’s, youth, and adult sizes without printing on the back for the Summer Reading Program. Donations can be dropped off at the library.

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