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CBJ Report: United Technologies announces $15B domestic investment plan

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United Technologies announces $15B domestic investment plan

United Technologies Corp., which is poised to complete its acquisition of Rockwell Collins this summer, announced plans Wednesday to invest $15 billion in capital expenditures and R&D in the United States, and to add several thousand new jobs over the next five years.

"United Technologies is growing globally and [the company is] growing the fastest in the United States," Gregory Hayes, United Technologies chairman and CEO, said in a release. "Over the past three years, we have created more jobs in the U.S. than in the rest of the world combined."

The company said its investments will add capacity to serve customers in the aerospace and commercial building industries, which are benefitting from rapid urbanization, a growing middle class and the growth of air travel.

"Our investments reflect our core belief that, similar to U.S. economic goals, United Technologies' continued success will be dependent on a highly-skilled workforce, world class manufacturing facilities, and workforce education programs that enable employees to improve their skills and remain competitive in an increasingly digital economy," Mr. Hayes said.

The company announced a website dedicated to highlight its domestic investments: www.utcinvestingintheusa.com

About $9 billion of the investments planned by United Technologies will go towards R&D, including initiatives to accelerate its digital strategy. The remaining $6 billion is expected to go towards capital expenditures to drive innovation and improve capacity and efficiency. United Technologies, based in Connecticut employs more than 200,000 people in more than 75 countries, including 67,000 in the United States. It expects to hire for 35,000 positions in U.S. over the next five years. Most openings will result from workforce retirements or normal turnover. Several thousand positions are expected to be entirely new jobs.

Allen keeps buying on former One Park Place site

Although developer Jesse Allen's last redevelopment proposal for a prime downtown Cedar Rapids corner stalled out last year, a recent acquisition shows he hasn't lost interest in the so-called Paramount site.

Aspen Ventures LLC, led by Mr. Allen, paid $1 million earlier this month for 320 First St. SE, a 7,200-square-foot single-story office building on a 0.2-acre site east of the Paramount site. The building is also immediately west of 330 First St., the former Enlighten Technologies building he acquired in 2016, also for $1 million.

The Cedar Rapids City Council Tuesday approved a second request for proposals (RFP) process for the Paramount site, located just west of the Paramount Theater.

"We're interested, but we want to review the new RFP first," said John Yapp, a spokesman for Mr. Allen's group. "If that [a development agreement with the city] doesn't work out, we're prepared to develop just on those properties."

Mr. Yapp said talks are underway with a hotel developer that could potentially use the two properties already acquired.

A development group led by Mr. Allen was selected at the end of 2016 to enter negotiations for a development agreement for the Paramount site in the original RFP round. The group proposed a 28-story, $103 million project called One Park Place, the largest of any submitted. Plans included a hotel, grocery, condominiums, offices and a large amount of parking. It was so large that it required the acquisition of adjacent parcels and gap financing from the city.

Development discussions with Mr. Allen's group ended after the developer failed to meet a deadline for submitting proof of project financing. City officials said last year that Mr. Allen is not precluded from making a second proposal for the Paramount site, which housed a pawn shop and a bagel shop before the flood of 2008.

Grant boosts UI's long-distance psychiatric services for seniors

Pleasantview Home in Kalona is the first facility in the state to offer University of Iowa-provided geriatric mental health care through a telemedicine service, a development made possible by a $500,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

Elderly residents in 29 long-term care facilities in Iowa will soon have the option of receiving mental health services from UI Health Care specialists via secure video chat.

"The option for telemedicine appointments eases many burdens on the patient and their caregivers," said Amy Skelton, director of nursing at Pleasantview Home, in a release. "Transportation can be costly or logistically complicated for caregivers, not to mention it is mentally taxing and physically exhausting on the resident. Telemedicine appointments allow the patient to maintain their daily routine in a familiar setting, and family members can optionally join the appointment at the facility or from a remote location."

Geriatric psychiatrists care for seniors with mental and emotional disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, depression, anxiety and addiction. Elderly patients are often medically complex and benefit from a geriatric psychiatrist's training to manage multiple medications for several coexisting health conditions.

UIHC officials said long-distance services like this one are important, especially given that Iowa's population is the nation's fifth oldest, with nearly 15 percent of Iowans aged 65 and older. Only eight board-certified geriatric psychiatrists practice in Iowa, leaving the state's growing elderly population with limited access to the specialized care they require.

"Psychiatric illness can impact every minute of a person's day-to-day, so our interventions truly improve our patients' quality of life," said Dr. Susan Duffy, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at UI Hospitals and Clinics. "Through telepsychiatry, we see patients who might not seek treatment otherwise."

The $500,000 USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant funded equipment to build a telemedicine network across Iowa to increase access for patients in rural communities.

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