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Hills Bank and Trust Company Successful Business Newsletter.  Member FDIC.
Volume 5, Issue 4: July - August 2010     

In This Issue


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10 Second Tip

Protect Your Smartphone Against Attack

New cell phones with internet capabilities (aka smartphones) essentially are lower-end personal computers. Many rules and practices applied to your computer carry over to use of PDAs or smartphones. Below are security tips for defending cell phones and PDAs against attacks:

  • Do not leave devices unattended in public or easily accessible areas.
  • Make use of password protection.
  • Beware of unsolicited or suspicious text messages and emails, especially when soliciting personal or financial information.
  • Do not download games or other software from sites you do not trust.
  • Disable functions such as Bluetooth and WIFI when not in use.
  • Take advantage of security features on your smartphone or PDA.

For more information about how to protect your smartphone and PDA from attack, visit the US-CERT website.


Hills Happenings

The bank will be closed on the following holiday:

  • Labor Day - Monday, September 6

Even though we will be closed, you can still do your banking at over 70 Hills Bank ATMs in the Corridor, Hills Bank Online, or through Push Button Banker.

Johnson County Commercial Real Estate Trends

Hills Bank takes pride in caring for our customers' expectations. When it comes to loan requests for purchasing commercial real estate, our commitment is to fully understand local property values. We asked local real estate appraiser, Cook Appraisal, to analyze the current commercial real estate market and see how Corridor commercial property values have fared in this rocky economy.

Commercial real estate was divided into two main categories: office/retail and industrial space. Cook Appraisal distributed surveys in the Iowa City area asking for information on rental rates, square footage, and current vacancies.

The office/retail markets are in relatively good condition. Vacancies are manageable and rents have been fairly stable despite a nationwide recession. One reason we have not experienced a softening in the office/retail market locally is that there has been a significant slowdown in the amount of land being platted for office/retail-type subdivisions. Local developers recognized warning signs of a surplus of lots in 2006 and construction slowed accordingly. Vacancy rates are as high as 20-25% in other parts of the country, while Johnson County markets are more manageable at 7-8%. One advantage for the City of Iowa City is the presence of the University of Iowa. It is most likely the largest office user in the market, and over the years absorbed space that in other communities might have remained vacant for some time.

On a national basis, industrial space has developed a supply that is well beyond the current demand. The Johnson County market has not been spared from these trends. While current vacancies are nearing 15%, an equilibrium would experience vacancies of 6-7%. It is reasonable to expect little new construction of competitive space under the present oversupply of industrial space. At the current rate it will be three to seven years before the imbalance is addressed, assuming there is little or no new construction.

The research provided by Cook Appraisal has been helpful in providing an overview of the Johnson County market. Hills Bank is committed to working with you to efficiently utilize the existing and future inventory of commercial properties in our area. We continue to make loans, are looking for new loan opportunities, and plan to continue being the best commercial real estate lender in the Corridor for years to come. Thanks for your continued interest and support.

Adapted from April 2010
Iowa City Area Commercial Real Estate Study from
Kyran J. Cook, MAI, M.A and Rochelle L. Dietiker, M.A.


Catch Me If You Can
Upcoming Business Fraud Seminars

Local business owners are invited to attend the second of our three-part seminar series on business fraud. The August seminar will feature a local attorney who will discuss business liabilities. Kirsten Frey from Kennedy, Cruise, Frey, and Gelner will present at the Coralville seminar on August 24th. A representative from Shuttleworth & Ingersoll will present at the Cedar Rapids seminar on August 25th. Their expertise in business law will give you a competitive advantage to combat potential business fraud.

At this seminar, Hills Bank deposit representatives will explain the benefits and liability concerns of using fraud prevention banking products such as business credit cards, merchant processing, ACH, Hills Bank Direct Merchant, and online banking.

Coralville Seminar
Tuesday, August 24th
11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Hills Bank and Trust Company
1009 2nd St., Coralville
Please RSVP by August 23rd to Carrie Ebel
at 319-358-2272 or email carrie_ebel@hillsbank.com.
Lunch will be provided.

Cedar Rapids Seminar
Wednesday, August 25th
11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Hills Bank and Trust Company
3905 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids
Please RSVP by August 23rd to Elaine Blythe
at 319-866-7022 or email elaine_blythe@hillsbank.com.
Lunch will be provided.

Seating is limited, so RSVP as soon as possible. Part three of the seminar series will feature local law enforcement and will be scheduled in Fall 2010. Watch for more information about these seminars.


Ask the Expert

Q. How will the new federal regulation for opt-in/opt-out affect my business's merchant processing transactions?

A. Due to federal regulatory changes, after August 13th financial institutions may no longer be able to provide standard overdraft practices for ATM withdrawals and everyday debit card purchases made at stores, online, or by telephone without the customer's consent. If your business accepts debit cards for payment, you may notice an increase in declined debit transactions. This increase is due to the fact that banks are not authorized to pay overdrafts for ATM transactions and everyday debit card purchases unless the consumers opt-in for this added service. Customers will need to choose another form of payment if their card is declined. Visit our site for more information about the new opt-in federal regulation, contact a Commercial Sales Representative at any Hills Bank location, or call us at 1-800-445-5725 (1-800-HILLSBK).

Have a question? Submit it to enewsletter@hillsbank.com to have it featured in an upcoming issue.

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