ISU says governor paid for bowl tickets 1 month after game

IOWA CITY — Iowa State University said Gov. Kim Reynolds paid for her family's tickets to the Liberty Bowl nearly one month after the game.

School spokesman John McCarroll said Thursday Reynolds paid $380 to cover the cost of four tickets with a personal check dated January 27, 2018, four weeks after the Cyclones defeated Memphis 21-20.

McCaroll said it was "normal procedure" to provide the tickets upfront and send the governor an invoice to be paid later.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday Reynolds and three relatives accepted a free flight to the game on an airplane owned by Sedgwick, which administers state workers' compensation claims.

Iowa's gift law bars public officials from accepting anything worth $3 from contractors and lobbyists.

But Reynolds received approval from an ethics regulator to accept the flight as a campaign contribution from Sedgwick's CEO Dave North, one of her top donors. North said he reimbursed Sedgwick for the cost.

Reynolds' campaign said she met with donors during the day trip.

Report: Tariffs played role in Iowa farmland values decline

DES MOINES — A new survey report said the Iowa farmland average values have dropped 1.7 percent in the past six months.

The report from the Iowa Chapter of the Realtors Land Institute says the decline over the past six months left the values at a little over $6,800 an acre. But the report issued Tuesday also said the values climbed 1.2 percent higher during the past 12 months.

Values went up in the past six months only in northeast Iowa, rising 0.7 percent.

The report blamed the state decline in part on tariffs that affected crop prices and on rising interest rates.

Meredith cuts 200 more jobs to reduce costs after Time deal

DES MOINES — Magazine and broadcasting company Meredith is laying off 200 more people as it continues to cut costs after buying Time Inc. earlier this year.

Meredith spokesman Art Slusark said Thursday most of the job cuts are in the New York area, but 25 will be eliminated in Birmingham, Alabama, and another 15 will be cut at the company's headquarters in Des Moines.

Since the Time acquisition, Meredith has eliminate about 1,800 jobs and 800 other employees have left the company.

In addition to the job cuts, Meredith also announced it would merge two of its cooking magazines — Cooking Light and EatingWell — into one publication with circulation of 1.775 million readers that will be printed ten times a year.

Willis Tower base expansion part of $500M renovation

CHICAGO — The owner of the Willis Tower has unveiled a five-level expansion project designed to lure thousands of additional visitors to Chicago's tallest building each day.

Blackstone Group announced Thursday its plan for a 300,000-square-foot addition to the skyscraper's base. The new space will be called Catalog as a nod to the 110-story building's original namesake tenant, Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Catalog is part of New York-based Blackstone's more than $500 million renovation plan for the Willis Tower. The space will include a food hall, meeting and events area, restaurants, entertainment, a rooftop park and a large skylight.

"We're a city within a city, with 15,000 workers here each day, and that number is only increasing with new leasing," said David Moore, senior vice president at Chicago-based EQ Office, Blackstone's office unit. "Our approach to this entire project is all about making it feel like a neighborhood."

The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2019.

The Willis Tower was completed in 1974 and is currently the second-tallest building in the U.S. Blackstone bought the skyscraper in 2015 for a Chicago-record $1.3 billion.