For our annual Business Record Leaders survey, we surveyed the Business Record audience on 18 business issues in order to capture the pulse of our readers.

In the next ten pages you’ll see the results and selected comments from our readers, Jay byers and myself. The results are far from scientific, but, they do give a peek into the behaviors, beliefs and general mood of the community. But, we couldn’t have done this without you, the reader. So, as always, a big thank you to the hundreds of leaders who participated in our survey again this year. 

– Chris Conetzkey, editor of the Business Record


Rate the overall health of the central Iowa business community.

8 - Scott Turczynski
Owner and vice president, The Heartland Cos.
Real Estate & Development

Des Moines is a large city but a small community. Meaning we as business leaders are drawn to help others and to help our community in any way we can. We give back in the form of donations and volunteering. In terms of the economy, we in the commercial construction industry are seeing a growth of activity that will hopefully last a few years.

8 - Gabe Gulick
Regional manager, QPS Employment Group
Manufacturing & Logistics

Feel like it is a bit of a slower start to 2014 than some thought. Things seems to be picking up statewide as we enter warmer weather. I would be curious if things slowed nationally due to the colder weather everyone had.

7 - Barbara Hokel
Vice president, NAI Optimum
Real Estate & Development
Getting stronger every day; there is still some skepticism left from the 2007-2009 era.

8 - Todd McDonald
President, ATW Training
HR & Education

I think the overall health of the Central Iowa business community is strong. One reason for the strength is that we tend to be conservative in nature and therefore have not overextended ourselves in the past, which positions us to take advantage of opportunities now that the economy has improved.

7 - Jim Sinclair
Owner, Sinclair Properties and Sinclair & Associates Law Firm
Real Estate & Development

The governor and the Legislature greatly improved our state’s health when they stopped the deficit spending initiated by the earlier administration. The property tax changes will also create better “health” within our state.

9 - Michael Woody
President and chief idea officer, Capital Ideas
Sales & Marketing

There are still pockets and industries that are lagging, but for the most part, the Central Iowa business community seems very strong.

Jay’s Answer

8 - 2013 was a banner year in Central Iowa for regional economic development projects and national rankings. We foresee this trajectory of economic growth moving forward as industries continue to emerge from recovery and surpass pre-recession levels.

Editor’s Note
For the second straight year, leaders believe the overall health of the business community is improving. When comparing this year’s chart to those of the previous two years, the biggest change seems to be the propensity of respondents to give a rating of 10. The overall feeling from comments? We’ve turned the corner and it’s time to capitalize.


What single thing, if added to Greater Des Moines, could help take the area to the next level within the next five years?

Paul A. Drey
Managing partner and attorney, Brick Gentry P.C.
Law & Government

Continued growth in theater. A few more places like The Temple for Performing Arts to take Des Moines to the next level in Broadway shows would be a great asset.

Mike Kinter
Owner, The Market Building
Real Estate & Development

Year-round indoor/outdoor farmers market, in the East Village Market District.

Chris Nolte
Director of public relations and development, Madison County Health Care System
Health & Wellness

Retail options are not bad, but would like more destination shopping opportunities such as Ikea, Cabela’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc.

Paul Schlicker
President, DuPont Pioneer
Ag & Environment

Expanded public transportation. Why not to Ames from Des Moines?

Josh Garrett
Owner, Jett and Monkey’s
Retail & Business

Downtown first-run multiplex theater (not indie).

Jon-Michael Rosmann
Executive director, Iowa Prescription Drug Corp.
Health & Wellness

Rapid transit connecting the Des Moines metro area with other larger metro areas, such as Kansas City and Chicago.

Chaden Halfhill
President, Silent Rivers Design + Build
Real Estate & Development

Let us truly take action on reclaiming the well-being and protection of our waterways, and then we can have an honest conversation about the Healthiest State.

Cheryl Butler
Commercial property manager, Knapp Properties Inc.
Real Estate & Development

Personally I would love to see an Ikea store. I’m not certain Des Moines and the surrounding communities can support one, but I’d love to think we can.

Jim Kabel
President, Kabel Business Services
Finance & Insurance

Lower-cost airline options.  I still find myself having to drive to Kansas City for out-of-town trips.

Dick Edwards
Senior vice president and credit risk manager, U.S. Bank
Finance & Insurance

Expanded hotel and convention buildings downtown so that we can draw high-level entertainment and be more eligible to host sizable events, such as sporting events like regional men’s NCAA basketball, etc.

David Stone
Associate director, Bravo Greater Des Moines
Culture

Additional midsized performance venues for live bands and concerts.

Jay’s Answer

A convention hotel.

Editor’s Note

What do I think? Glad you asked. A professional sports team - Major League Soccer (MLS), specifically. Do I think it could happen in five years? I’d guess not. But, bringing a professional team to Des Moines would give the city a staple attraction, something other than a one-time event, that would consistently attract visitors from across the state. The common stumbling block is the size of our population. But, my feeling is Des Moines, and Iowa, support their teams in ways other areas don’t. Think Green Bay as opposed to Tampa Bay. This is the short version of my long answer, and just my hunch, but we’ve talked about doing a more indepth story on whether or not Des Moines can support a pro team. Given the challenge of supporting a professional team, I think this community would step up. 


True or False: Iowa should raise its minimum wage

TRUE - Jon-Michael Rosmann
Executive director, Iowa Prescription Drug Corp.
Health & Wellness

All of us as taxpayers and competing business owners/managers ultimately end up underwriting the low wages paid by some employers through contributions to public assistance programs.

TRUE - Kathryn Dickel
CEO, MidwesTix
Culture

Because it makes no sense to work when it’s not providing for your family. Plus more money in the hands of consumers is a good thing.

TRUE - Chaden Halfhill
President, Silent Rivers Design + Build
Real Estate & Development

I’d rather see the Iowa business community lead by example and develop models that ensure all willing workers make a living and fair wage. What a great testament and attracter for our state to boast the highest average starting wages in the country.

TRUE - Donavan Honnold
Marketing officer, United Way of Central Iowa

Need a tiered minimum wage system. Some jobs are designed to sustain a person/family. Others are designed to be part-time casual work.

TRUE - Eric Burmeister
Executive director, Polk County Housing Trust Fund
Real Estate & Development

No one should work 40 hours a week and still be too poor to be self-sufficient.

TRUE - Amelia Lobo
Director, Women’s Business Center, ISED Ventures
Economic Development

The living wage for Iowans is $23 per hour. Most individuals working minimum wage or slightly above are parents with children. Twenty-six percent of Iowans are one emergency away from being wiped out financially.

TRUE - Daniel Boor
President and CEO, Scottish Rite Park
Health & Wellness

We need to tie the minimum wage to some type of index so it does not continue to fall behind.

TRUE - Suku Radia
President and CEO, Bankers Trust
Finance & Insurance

We have far too many people below the poverty line.

TRUE - Mike Schreurs
CEO, Strategic America
Sales & Marketing

While it won’t impact our wage structure, it will have some adverse impact on some of our retail clients and likely cause some job reduction. Nonetheless, it needs to move upward.

TRUE - Brent Highfill
President, Florist Distributing Inc., Hy-Vee Inc. 
Retail & Business

I am not for $10.10 but a slight increase would be beneficial. A gradual increase would be best.

FALSE - Merlin Siefken
President, Siefken Management Services LLC
Retail & Business

All we do when we raise the minimum wage is reduce the number of entry-level workers and increase the salaries of union workers whose pay is based on the minimum wage.

FALSE - Jim Tansey
Chief operating officer, Hawkeye Real Estate Investment Co.
Real Estate & Development

Basic economics. Raising the minimum wage will cost jobs and raise prices. The money doesn’t come out of thin air.  Businesses aren’t thriving now; why force them to pay more than they can afford?


If you believe Iowa should raise its minimum wage, how high would you raise it?


FALSE - John R. Gilliland
Financial adviser, Morgan Stanley
Finance & Insurance

Each time the state has mandated wage increases in the past, more Iowans have lost hours and jobs. The vast majority of minimum wage earners are not the primary earners in families.

FALSE - Tracy Schmidt
Vice president and general manager of card services, NCMIC Finance Corp.
Finance & Insurance

I don’t think that this is as much a problem in Central Iowa as it might be elsewhere. I have never been able to compete for good people at minimum wage for as long as I have been here. We are like double that to start.

FALSE - Gabe Gulick
Regional manager, QPS Employment Group
Manufacturing & Logistics

I work in LI staffing, Lots of our jobs are $8 to $12 per hour. If everyone will wait six months, the market is going to correct the wage rate as labor becomes more scarce. It’s already happening in Johnson/Linn counties.

FALSE - Dave Nelson
CEO, West Bank
Finance & Insurance

It will make prices increase and result in fewer jobs for unskilled workers. Programs designed to help “the poor” typically hurt low-income earners, not help them.

FALSE - Pat Hensley
Vice president of governmental affairs and industry relations, Hy-Vee Inc.
Retail & Business

Very complicated issue. This simply compressesses the wage scale, limiting the amount of money a business could pay employees on the top end of the scale. Those top-end employees are the breadwinners for their families.

FALSE - John Sorensen
President and CEO, Iowa Bankers Association
Finance & Insurance

Wage gains are offset by job losses. There are better ways to supply a safety net, for example through the earned income tax credit.

Jay’s Answer

It is the Partnership’s position that Iowa’s minimum wage should not be higher than the federal minimum wage.


What are your social media behaviors?

Use LinkedIn?
Yes - 89.5%
No - 10.5%

Use Facebook?
Yes - 78.8%
No - 21.2%

Use Twitter?
Yes - 56.2%
No - 43.8%

Use Google+
Yes - 43.6%
No - 56.4%

How active are you on your social media?






















 
Non-user: I never use social media, and don’t have any profiles created
Sparse user: I have created some social media profiles, but I don’t utilize any of the functionality
Light user: I often monitor other people’s social media posts, but I never make my own posts
Moderate user: I monitor other people’s social media posts, and occasionally make posts myself
Heavy user: I monitor other people’s social media posts, and consistently make posts myself  
Extreme user: I constantly monitor social media channels, and I’m always making multiple posts on multiple accounts.



Fill in the blank:
The biggest issue facing Iowa businesses right now is ………


Carol Warren
Vice president, Progress Industries
Health & Wellness

 A qualified workforce.

Jeff Russell
President & CEO, Delta Dental of Iowa
Finance & Insurance

 A qualified workforce. It is increasingly difficult to find the right types of people to continue to grow our business. I don’t think we are alone in that perspective - to grow in our type of business, we are dependent on talented people. The state needs to continue to attract talented people to live and work here.

Joey Hinke
President, Miller Fidler & Hinke Insurance Agency
Finance & Insurance

 Affordable Care Act and increased minimum wage.

Mike Day
General manager, Dale Carnegie Training
HR & Education

Burdensome government regulations.

Sharon Malheiro
Shareholder and attorney, Davis Brown Law Firm
Law & Government

Creating more leadership opportunities for women.

Kevin Pokorny
Owner and consultant, Pokorny Consulting
HR & Education

Developing leaders to respond to the complexities of a fast-changing business climate and how to lead in the midst of ambiguity.

Paul Schulte
Director of financial strategies, Bearence Management Group
Finance & Insurance

Faulty health care reform, high taxes for small and medium-sized businesses.

Bill Sullivan
Executive vice president, Two Rivers Bank & Trust
Finance & Insurance

Finding good employees.

Michael Sherzan
President and CEO, Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.
Finance & Insurance

Managing growth.

Dave Nelson
CEO, West Bank
Finance & Insurance

Obamacare and unfunded city and state pensions.

Tony Dickinson
Vice president of marketing, Wells Fargo Bank
Finance & Insurance

Political uncertainty.

John Sorensen
President and CEO, Iowa Bankers Association
Finance & Insurance

Slow economic growth, exacerbated by government overregulation and intervention in so many segments of our economy.

Jon-Michael Rosmann
Executive director, Iowa Prescription Drug Corp.
Health & Wellness

The stability of Iowa’s ag economy.

Josh Fleming
Brand counselor, The Meyocks Group
Sales & Marketing

Too much dependency on big corporations to provide jobs. If a company like Wells Fargo were to move, Des Moines would become more like Des Troit.

Hannah Inman
Communications director, Iowa National Heritage Foundation
Ag & Environment

Water quality.

Jay’s Answer

Workforce.

Editor’s Note

The overwhelming response, not surprisingly, was the need to continue developing our workforce. Respondents lamented the shortage of workers across a variety of industries and skill levels, and also the ability for their businesses to retain, attract and grow a workforce. Some other themes of concern were consistently brought up, so I pulled a sampling of responses to reflect that, rather than pull 10-plus comments all on workforce development.


How important do you think the growing tech start up scene is for the overall health of the Des Moines business community?

7 - Bill Grund
Vice president of commercial lending, Central State Bank
Finance & Insurance

It’s the way of the future, and it is critical for Des Moines to embrace that and provide a setting that nurtures it.

9 - Todd McDonald
President, ATW Training
HR & Education

Tech is the manufacturing of the future. It will not replace manufacturing but can have the same impact

7 - Suku Radia
President and CEO, Bankers Trust Co.
Finance & Insurance

We need information technology professionals, and we need to create an environment where some of these young folks can thrive.

10 - David Ringgenberg
President, Iowa State Bank
Finance & Insurance

Des Moines needs this type of innovation and creativity in the business community!

8 - Mike Colwell
Executive director, Business Innovation Zone

Beyond the direct benefits of new startup companies in the metro area, the tech startup scene is delivering examples of innovation through the products and services they develop along with the methods they use to achieve their results.

6 - Michael Sadler
Assistant vice president of public policy, CenturyLink Inc.
Tech & Innovation

Startups are a piece of sustained growth and health in the business community.

6 - Tony Dickinson
Vice president of marketing, Wells Fargo Bank
Finance & Insurance

Provides a competitive advantage to comparable cities and attracts additional talent, skills and millennials to Central Iowa.

3 - Bruce Beguhn
Owner, Lakeside Products
Manufacturing & Logistics

Seems more like a hobby activity than a growth industry that will generate revenue and employees.

3 - Jim Tansey
Chief operating officer, Hawkeye Real Estate Investment Co.
Real Estate & Development

Technology is always important, but overall not huge for the Des Moines business community.

Jay’s Answer

10 - The Partnership helped establish the Business Innovation Zone, StartupCity Des Moines and Plains Angels. We remain focused on helping to build out Central Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Editor’s Note

This question had a huge change between 2012 and 2013, and a slight dip in 2014. The dip this year might simply be chalked up to the unscientific nature of our survey.

True or False: Long-term, health care reform will be a positive thing for businesses.

FALSE - Mike Schreurs
CEO, Strategic America
Sales & Marketing

The changes that are taking place now have added unnecessary costs. Our broker indicates an average of 4-5 percent more just due to the Affordable Care Act. Still no real focus on lower costs, which is where the focus needs to be.

FALSE - Joe Kristan
CPA, Roth & Co.
Finance & Insurance

Assuming you are talking about the current version of ‘reform,’ it will be an ongoing disaster characterized by uncertainty and high costs, until it is replaced with something that has a prayer of working.

FALSE - Karla Rendall
Senior vice president and director of sales and marketing, Peoples Trust & Savings Bank
Finance & Insurance

Health care reform will not allow small businesses to be able to afford quality care for employees. Even if they can, employees can now shop the open market and benefits will no longer be a recruiting advantage for many businesses when hiring.

FALSE - Scott Turczynski
Owner and vice president, The Heartland Cos.
Real Estate & Development

I see it as another safety net that will eventually continue to drain government expenses, just as Social Security and Medicare do.

FALSE - Lynne Johnson
Director of operations, ATW Training & Consulting Inc.
HR & Education

It’s forcing companies to cut back the type of plans they have and forcing companies to let people go because of the price increases. This is a bad plan for every working person in this country.

FALSE - Merlin Siefken
President, Siefken Management Services LLC
Retail & Business

One day, we are all going to wake up to find out how much freedom we have forfeited for some version of security we might have desired.

FALSE - Bill Weidmaier
President, Iowa-Des Moines Supply Inc.
Sales & Marketing

Since the health care overhaul was passed, our company premiums have had double-digit increases every year, including a 21 percent increase in 2012. I don’t see any business fundamentals or changes in health care practices as a result of the reform that will deter premium costs from continuing to rise significantly.

FALSE - Tim Gerald
Vice president, ABC Electrical
Tech & Innovation

A one-size-fits-all health care system is not going to be good for business. It will cost more than it is worth.

FALSE - Jim Sinclair
Owner, Sinclair Properties and Sinclair & Associates Law Firm
Real Estate & Development

Governmentally administered and regulated health care has not provided either 1. better care or 2. lower costs anywhere in the world. Private enterprise has historically done a much better job of running an industry than a government. Iowa citizens and businesses will have fewer options at higher costs, with worse care.

TRUE - Suku Radia
President and CEO, Bankers Trust Co.
Finance & Insurance

As long as we incent for wellness programs and for participation.

TRUE - Lloyd Vanderkwaak
President and CEO, ChildServe
Health & Wellness

Employers should not be the primary vehicle society depends on to provide health care. This should be a shared responsibility so everyone has access to affordable health care services.

TRUE - Jeff Russell
President & CEO, Delta Dental of Iowa
Finance & Insurance

Health care reform is different than the Affordable Care Act. Health care reform is the response of insurers, providers and consumers to the changing needs of health care as well as new laws/regulations. Long term, our current system is unsustainable. We need to continue to adopt wellness initiatives, overall care coordination and consumer engagement to truly have health care reform.

TRUE - Michael Sherzan
President and CEO, Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.
Finance & Insurance

Look to the people the law is helping and compare what they had before. Most of the law’s strong critics appear to want the legislation to fail.

TRUE - Ryan Crane
Development director, Primary Health Care
Health & Wellness

Major employers have to provide benefits to be competitive. Providing quality health care is an asset. Not providing it makes your company look less appealing. Many conservative business leaders say competition is a good thing. Well, compete! Show why the benefits that your company provides are an asset.

TRUE - Diane Ramsey
Executive director, Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference
Economic Development

In the long term,  I believe that we have the potential to see individuals getting treatment earlier and getting fewer unneeded tests/medications/services; health care providers creating greater operating efficiencies; and overall cost lowering.

TRUE - Hannah Inman
Communications director, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Ag & Environment

It’s a huge pressure in new and starting businesses. Hopefully it will make startups and small businesses more viable and competitive.

TRUE - David J Gion
President, Canvis
Tech & Innovation

For all involved, both employer, employee, local community, local economy - they are all best served if the employee’s health insurance is NOT tied to employment. It leads to optimal job mobility, which is in the best interest of everyone. Eventually, we need to get to where health insurance is NOT provided by your employer.

Jay’s Answer

The Partnership’s position on health care can be found at www.desmoinesmetro.com.

Editor’s Note

Come on, Jay, don’t want to touch that one? OK, we’ll give you a pass. Here’s my take on the often-politicized question. I think that the law and subsequent excessive discussions that the law has created have forced us to evaluate how we deliver, consume and pay for health care in our country. That’s a good thing, and it wouldn’t be happening had we not gone down this path. Ultimately it will help lead to a better system for both, but it’s not an overnight process for the market to adjust, and I don’t think the handling of the rollout of Obamacare has helped any. Whether or not you believe the current  reform will be good or bad - I remain undecided for now - the serious debate about health care is a positive thing for the nation.


So far, the changes brought on by the Affordable Health Care Law have been…

Very Negative - Jim Kabel
President, Kabel Business Services
Finance & Insurance

We have lost over 40 clients because some clients cannot continue to offer benefits that we have administered for them.  Our insurance offered to our employees had to be changed, with deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket increasing.

Slightly Negative - Sunny Eighmy
Director of college relations and board professional, Central College
HR & Education

It’s been difficult for employers to track with the changes, and it’s come at a perceived or real greater cost.

Neutral - Dick Edwards
Senior vice president and credit risk manager, U.S. Bank
Finance & Insurance

Too early to say for sure, but I am hearing about an equal number of positive and negative stories, so I view it as neutral at this juncture.

Slightly Positive - Doug Bickford
Executive director for Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, American Diabetes Association
Health & Wellness

There is a whole subset of folks who are being ignored in the health care debate, and that is those who have pre-existing conditions. The ACA has been very helpful to this group of people, as it has given them an opportunity to be covered, many for the first time in years.

Very Positive - Mark Imerman
Director of business and institutional relations, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
HR & Education

The first thing I think of is the ability to keep your kids on your insurance until they are 26. Prior to this, thousands of kids were pushed and held in higher education because that’s the only way their parents could guarantee them insurance.

Very Negative - David Ringgenberg
President, Iowa State Bank
Finance & Insurance

Poor administration to setup. Sign-up was horrible for participants. Aspects of the law have been changed with no input from legislative representatives. Pools of participants are not balanced to provide long-term sustainability without drastic premium increases.

Slightly Negative - Scott Turczynski
Owner and vice president, The Heartland Cos.
Real Estate & Development

Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, I feel. It doesn’t address some other important issues.

Neutral - Lisa Holderness Brown
President and owner, Ginger Jam Communications Inc.
Culture

Seems like the changes have been a bit of a nonevent so far, but this will change.

Slightly Positive - Sheena Thomas
Co-Owner, Elements Ltd.
Retail & Business

The rise in the cost of health care has slowed, there is more competition among insurance companies, and those who are getting new insurance through the exchange are seeing a lowering of their rates for comparable coverage.

Editor’s Note

Jeff Russell pointed out that the Affordable Care Act is a law, but that health care reform is a response to changing needs. It’s a good point and a distinction we should have made in our survey questions. In one question, we ask specifically about the law, and the other about health care reform. I think that’s part of the reason we see that in this question, nearly 60 percent of respondents said that so far the law has been slightly or very negative, while only 20 percent said it has been slightly or very positive. In comparison, our true-false question about whether health care reform would be positive long term was nearly a 50-50 split. And looking at the responses, that makes pretty good sense. It seemed, in one form or another, many thought reform of health care was needed, but that this current law wasn’t the way to go about getting there.


On average, how many hours per week are you working?


















On a scale of 1-10, how Stressed are you feeling at work?

2 - Mark Imerman
Director of business and institutional relations, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
HR & Education

People blame stress on bosses, workloads, traffic and all manner of things, but stress is attitude. I heard Laura Jackson of Wellmark tell a bunch of college students recently to take care of themselves first, their families second, their jobs third, and their stress would take care of itself. Good advice.

4 - Jim Kabel
President, Kabel Business Services
Finance & Insurance

We have had more bad debts in the last two years than we have had in the first 19 years we have been in business.  Although my company is doing well, it seems that other businesses have not survived the recession as well.

7 - Mona Bond
President, Capitol Communications Inc.
Ag & Environment

Concern that the economy will not continue to grow. Fear that it will go back to recession.

Jay’s Answer

3 - Stress is not always a bad thing.

Editor’s Note

In comparison to past years, hours and stress are coming down a bit. And really, with Jay working 60 hours, we can blame him for skewing the averages. I did expect stress to be much lower than last year, but that could have something to do with the timing of our survey. Last year we asked this question during the middle of summer. As quite a few respondents joked, it’s tax season. And I can’t help thinking the everlasting winter played a part here too.


How optimistic are you about the job market outlook for your particular industry?

10 - Michael Sherzan
President and CEO, Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.
Finance & Insurance

We have a great number of financial services professionals we can interview when we have an open position.

8 - Suku Radia
President and CEO, Bankers Trust Co. 
Finance & Insurance

As the largest privately held bank, performing well, we are fortunate and thus have little difficulty attracting really good talent.

7 - Chris Nolte
Director of public relations and development, Madison County Health Care System
Health & Wellness

Limited number of positions in my particular field. However, the medical field, especially in rural Iowa, is facing some tough times recruiting some fields.

9 - Mary Daily Lange
Education coordinator, United Way of Central Iowa
HR & Education

Optimistic enough to encourage other professionals to consider moving and working here.

7 - Dick Edwards
Senior vice president and credit risk manager, U.S. Bank
Finance & Insurance

Difficult to maintain adequate staffing levels, and banking seems to have a sizable turnover ratio. Replacement employees can be found, but turnover and training has material cost implications and can easily have a negative impact on customer service goals.

4 - Barbara Hokel
Vice president, NAI Optimum
Real Estate & Development

There aren’t as many college students in the real estate programs. There are especially fewer women getting into the business. When the economy is really rolling again, that will change.

7 - Creighton Cox
Executive officer, Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines
Real Estate & Development

The residential building industry will need to hire immediate temporary help to catch up for the weather-related slowdown from December to February. A rash of activity will happen in April, May and June, and full-time jobs will need to be filled to continue filling the demand for new construction.

Editor’s Note

This number did take a dip. From looking at the comments, though, this tended be because of the worry about having access to a good workforce, and less because they were worried about how their particular industries were doing. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It seemed that because industries were doing so well, there were some that were nervous about the additional competition that would be coming to the market. And more competition makes the fight for talent that much more important.


Rate how easy or difficult you feel it would be for you to find a job with comparable compensation given today’s job market?

8 - Josh Fleming
Brand counselor, The Meyocks Group
Sales & Marketing

With new mediums emerging almost weekly, marketers need ad agency support more than ever to serve as a guide and provide key strategies. Marketing is only getting more interesting from here on out.

6 - James Olsen
Owner, Jimmy Olsen Entertainment
Sales & Marketing

I think in my industry there is a saturation of marketing agencies, but I believe that is due to the shrinking possibilities in media. Smaller staffs decrease opportunities. It is important to see what the need is in the marketplace to succeed and serve the community better.

4 - Jim Kabel
President, Kabel Business Services
Finance & Insurance

It is hard to find quality clerical and salespeople. I think this is due to the low unemployment rate in Iowa. The large companies such as Well Fargo seem to be taking a large portion of the talent that we would normally be able to draw from. Being a small employer, we can’t compete with the benefits the larger companies can offer.

5 - Mark Imerman
Director of business and institutional relations, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
HR & Education

Education is the last major old-line player in the information industry that hasn’t suffered extensive disruption. It is coming. I don’t know how soon, but it is. That said, I don’t think anyone’s employer or industry owes them job security. I think your employer owes you the opportunity to stay marketable, but actually staying marketable is your own responsibility.

9 - Tyler Brady
Account executive, CoStar Group
Real Estate & Development

Both residential and commercial are having excellent turnarounds. It’s a good time to be in real estate, and job seekers will flock to the industry in the next couple of years.

Editor’s Note

This was a first-time question, and responses were really all over the map, as evidenced by the graph. I think the responses to this question really depended on the individual and the industry. One common thread from comments that I took away was there were a number of individuals who weren’t worried about finding a job in a similar field, but weren’t certain they could find one at a comparable compensation.


Rate the effectiveness of our political leaders

8 - 8 - 3 - 3 - Christopher Sackett
Managing partner, BrownWinick Law Firm
Law & Government

I am reasonably pleased with our state officials and their ability to work together and get things done. I am disenchanted and disappointed with Washington and its partisan politics and lack of solutions.

2 - 3 - 1 - 8 - Michael Sherzan
President and CEO, Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.
Finance & Insurance

I believe we have a polarized Congress that does not represent what the majority of the people want out of their elected officials.

8 - 8 - 3 - 8 - Rowena Crosbie
President, Tero International Inc.
HR & Education

Tempted to rate U.S. Congress at 1 (not effective at all).  Rated it a 3 because their dysfunction is having some unintended positive consequences of making members of the general population more conscious of issues they rarely educate themselves about.

8 - 5 - 1 - 1 - Bill Sullivan
Vice president, Two Rivers Bank & Trust
Finance & Insurance

Washington is broken and needs to be fixed. The Democrats and Republicans are like little children on a playground who cannot share a ball.

7 - 5 - 3 - 5 - John Bergman
Vice president, Hubbell Reatly Co.
Real Estate & Development

U.S. Congress and to a large extent the Iowa Legislature need to let go of partisan politics and accept their responsibility to provide effective representative government.

10 - 3 - 1 - 1 - David Casten
President, Barton Solvents Inc.
Transportation

A pro-business attitude is needed everywhere. Terry Branstad pushes for this every day; the others do not. Our state and our country need to get back into having manufacturing jobs. Our current service economy will fail without manufacturing jobs.

Editor’s Note

We are an apolitical publication and don’t report on political races. That being said, politics and business are undoubtedly intertwined, and we were curious to see the business community’s perceptions of our political leaders. The short answer? The community is pleased with leadership in Iowa, and unhappy with Washington.


What is the most pressing transportation need in Central Iowa?

Improved bus service - Rowena Crosbie
President, Tero International Inc.
HR & Education

There are too few mass transit options for individuals who need to travel outside downtown for work.

Lower airfares - Bill Sullivan
Executive vice president, Two Rivers Bank & Trust
Finance & Insurance

More nonstop choices; however, this will not happen till we have 1 million or more people in the  metropolitan statistical area.

Intercity passenger rail - Michael Woody
President and chief idea officer, Capital Ideas
Sales & Marketing

To not have passenger rail to connect us to Minneapolis, Kansas City, Omaha and Chicago is a huge mistake.

Other - Gabe Gulick
Regional manager, QPS Employment Group
Manufacturing & Logistics

How about intracity light rail? Connect the parking ramps downtown with the malls in the area. Commuter and leisure options?

Improved roadway infrastructure - Creighton Cox
Executive officer, Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines
Real Estate & Development

A new interchange “flyover” at Rider Corner on Interstate 35/80 is essential to the growth in the northwest corridor and increase traffic safety. Adding a half-diamond on Meredith and an interchange on 100th will allow for a substantial increase in commercial growth in Johnston, Grimes,  Urbandale and northern Waukee and expand the metro area toward Dallas Center and Granger.

Editor’s Note

The big shift in these results is from “lower airfares,” which dropped 20 percentage points, to “improved roadway infrastructure,” which increased 11 percentage points and is up 29 percentage points from two years ago. I attribute this to Southwest Airlines’ arrival and the positive impact it has had on ticket prices. Still, in an October 2013 story, Des Moines International Airport ranked 104 out of 150 for average ticket price. It was a very nice 25-spot improvement over a two-year period, and it reversed a trend of Des Moines worsenting in the rankings. That being said, 104 is still a bit high, and readers clearly are still feeling the impact of high prices.

True or False: Iowa should raise the gas tax to help fund Iowa’s aging road/bridge infrastructure.

TRUE - Dave Nelson
CEO, West Bank
Finance & Insurance

Everybody shares in the effort.

TRUE - Bill Grund
Vice president of commercial lending, Central State Bank
Finance & Insurance

However, that should not be the sole means of financing it.

TRUE - Jon Harmsen
Chief operating officer, Nellis Management
Retail & Business

However, we need to add a tax for alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles so they are paying their fair share.

TRUE - Scott Bowman
Principal and corporate sustainability leader, KJWW Engineering Consultants
Real Estate & Development

This is a basic for economic development and for any major employer attraction.

TRUE - David Casten
President, Barton Solvents Inc.
Transportation

This is what the gas tax was intended to fund. Stop the state from appropriating these dollars for other uses. If the state will continue to raid this fund, then do not increase the gas tax.

FALSE - Creighton Cox
Executive officer, Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines
Real Estate & Development

Iowa needs to reconfigure the gas tax to represent miles per gallon and the changes in mpg on a national level and the volatility of gas prices, not just raise it.

FALSE - Mark Imerman
Director of business and institutional relations, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
HR & Education

Iowa should CHANGE the gas tax to an ad valorem tax instead of a per-gallon levy. I am not certain if revenue from fuel should be increased or not. I sometimes think that vehicle registration should be at least partially based on vehicle use. Fuel consumption is not a good proxy for that.

FALSE - Loren Bawn
Operations manager, Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services
Law & Government

May not efficiently capture fair share from those driving through the state, especially if it causes Iowa fuel to cost more than fuel in neighboring states.

Jay’s Answer

True.

Editor’s Note

In my mind there is no question we have to fund our infrastructure. My worry here is about tying future funding to something that is volume-based. As vehicles get more fuel-efficient, or switch fuel sources, ultimately the state will collect less in funds to maintain the roads. Columnist Dave Elbert proposed a solution in which we switch from a volume-based tax to a value-based tax in a column earlier this year. You can read about it here.


Given the recent cyber attacks on businesses and individuals, rate how worried you are about online data security.

3 - Ryan Peterson
President, Impact7G Inc.
Retail & Business

No sense in worrying about something I really have no control over.

8 - Dick Edwards
Senior vice president and credit risk manager, U.S. Bank
Finance & Insurance

I would have rated this lower than 5 last year at this time. Seems the criminals have just as much talent to create havoc as the “good guys” have to create safer technology solutions.

8 - Suku Radia
President and CEO, Bankers Trust Co.
Finance & Insurance

We have to stay on top of this one. We are dedicating a lot of resources to educate our customers and employees about cybercrime and cybersecurity.

10 - Pat Hensley
Vice president of governmental affairs and industry relations, Hy-Vee Inc.
Retail & Business

The criminals are international and very savvy. Our domestic laws do little to stop their efforts.

9 - Jeremy Baumann
Major account executive, Carrier Access
Tech & Innovation

Being in the Internet/tech business, there is no way to make it 100 percent bulletproof. You can make it harder for a breach to occur, but it will never be 100 percent safe.

9 - Jeff Russell
President & CEO, Delta Dental of Iowa
Finance & Insurance

This is a continual threat. Having spent the majority of my career in the banking and credit card business, it is a fact of life there. There are many businesses that are just realizing the threat is real and it isn’t a few kids in their bedroom.

10 - Mike Colwell
Executive director, Business Innovation Zone
Tech & Innovation

I truly believe most business underestimate the potential damages from not being truly prepared. The recent announcement by Target that they will miss earnings going forward is a perfect example of the damage done to brands through coordinated attacks.

1 - Douglas Hamilton
General manager, Simco Drilling Equipment Inc.
Manufacturing & Logistics

Be careful how your information is given and you can still protect yourself.

8 - Sheena Thomas
Co-owner, Elements Ltd.
Retail & Business

It continues to be a real problem for business and personally. My spouse was one of those whose tax refund was stolen.

5 - Michael Sherzan
President and CEO, Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.
Finance & Insurance

Our firm has adequate safeguards, but we need to be ever diligent.

10 - Bill Grund
Vice president of commercial lending, Central State Bank
Finance & Insurance

No matter how much security businesses take, there is always an army of individuals on the other side trying to work on a way around the protection. Once the breach occurs, consumers have very little or no recourse against the offenders, and a seriously uphill battle refuting the charges/damage and restoring their credit.

8 - Tracy Schmidt
Vice president and general manager of card services, NCMIC Finance Corp.
Finance & Insurance

We are in the credit card business, so naturally we are very concerned about this continuing trend.

Editor’s Note

This is the first time we’ve asked this question. I wish we had these numbers before the Target Corp. breach, which was such a public bout of hacking that touched many people who hadn’t had to think about cybersecurity. From looking at the responses, I suspect this number would have been a lot lower. The responses also seemed to split into two camps. Everyone seemed to realize that this is a legitimate threat, but not everyone was worried, primarily because they didn’t feel they had a lot of control to be able to stop it. I think, as a consumer you expect to be protected by the institutions you do business with. As a business, the consumer’s expectation of security makes it all that much more important for businesses to worry. If large businesses like Target can fail in preventing a breach, I have to imagine small businesses are at an even greater risk.