On Religion, The Media and Life as a 20-something in Chicago

Posts Tagged ‘business’

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

Customer love for this local businesss wins grant for Nick’s Pizza (Sun-Times Media)

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SOUTH ELGIN — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin surveyed the display of Raid cans, jars of Miracle Whip and Welch’s jelly, bottles of International Delight coffee creamer and Tide-to-Go sticks at Hoffer Plastics Corp., all made at the South Elgin company. Touring the South Elgin facility Wednesday, he joked, “I’m going to learn something today. The education of a senator is a daunting task.” Durbin’s visit to Hoffer Plastics was one of many he has made across Illinois to hear stories from businesses that are “doing well in the recession and hiring people,” he said. He had just visited Kraft Foods Inc. in Champaign, “where they fill the Miracle Whip bottles,” Durbin said. The senator said he was glad Hoffer was one of the last stops. That’s because part of Hoffer’s story is the WorkKeys assessment, part of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Partnership and 1,000 Workers Skills Initiative. Durbin also took part in a roundtable discussion about that initiative with Hoffer Plastics President William Hoffer, Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain and Elgin Area Chamber President Carol Gieske, among others. Area government, schools, businesses and the United Way of Elgin all are part of the initiative. “This is good. This is good news,” Durbin said. “After all these travels to Danville and all over the state, Macomb and Champaign, all these places I’ve gone, I’m glad this is one of the last stops because you’ve kind of explained to me what we need, and it’s there. We just need a commitment to it.” For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Durbin keys in on local efforts at job readiness (Sun-Times Media)

Things are looking up for businesses in the Fox Valley. And I’m not just saying that because — full disclosure — my husband works in commercial real estate in Kane County. (Although being a newlywed does lend itself to all kinds of optimism.) I’m saying that because the U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday a burst of hiring in December has pushed the unemployment rate to its lowest level since February 2009. With that, employers added a net 200,000 jobs last month, and the national unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The unemployment rate hasn’t dipped quite that low in, say, Elgin, where Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka noted the persistent 11 percent unemployment rate, while hosting her second employment expo last month at Elgin Community College. But chambers of commerce across the Fox Valley noted that same optimism among business owners in 2011. For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

From the Storyteller: Local economy showing signs of life (Sun-Times Media)

As a winery, Village Vintner was going to close up shop after six years on Randall Road. In fact, owner Steve Boyer closed the Carpentersville winery on Dec. 31, blaming his drop in production on the gloomy economy. “But,” he said, “I’ve been watching, and restaurants have been doing pretty good.” Plus, he added, “Microbreweries are big right now all over the U.S.” And that makes it the perfect time to uncork an idea he’s been aging a while: a restaurant with its own winery and microbrewery. That was his original concept for Village Vintner, he said, but he lacked the experience to run a restaurant. Enter some private investors and his brother Bob Boyer, who previously ran a 300-seat restaurant. The new Village Vintner Restaurant, Winery & Brewery, is expected to open in April at 2380 Esplanade Drive, right off Randall Road in Algonquin. That will make it just the third combination winery and brewery in Illinois — and the only one in the Chicago area, Boyer said. Despite what you’ve heard about the economy, some businesses across the Fox Valley are doing well — even expanding. That comes as business owners adjust to “the new norm,” according to Melissa Hernandez, executive director of the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s actually a really a good time to expand,” she said, “because you can get into a new location much cheaper than you could five years ago or even five years from now.” And the conversation Hernandez has heard in 2011 has changed in the last couple years. “People are more willing to barter. People are more wiling to be creative. It’s almost like we went back to basics.” Business owners still are nervous, she admitted. Five years ago, the good times were good enough to sustain business through the bad. And Patrick Skarr, vice president of advocacy at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, agrees that “there’s still a lot of uncertainty out there,” based on this year’s elections. That will impact employment costs, regulations and taxes, he added. Health insurance, payroll taxes and provisions in the Affordable Care Act are coming, and no one’s sure exactly how that will affect the cost of doing business. Still, Skarr noted, “One of the big things we’ve heard from our members is that things have kind of stabilized over the past year.” That includes government budgets and financing with banks. “That optimism is carrying over as we look to 2012,” he said. For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News. Photo: Andrew Nelles for Sun-Times Media.

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Storyteller: Fox Valley businesses expanding as frozen ecomony thaws (Sun-Times Media)

Here’s a look back at how I spent my 2011: Covering Community Unit School District 300’s protest against Sears EDA legislation, from start to finish.

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Sears EDA legislation, from start to finish (Between the Bylines)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries?list=PL81A45E893538CD70&hl=en_US] This was my pick for the Courier’s year-end “Faces of 2011” series. Certainly the biggest story I covered this past year was the battle against legislation to extend the Sears EDA in Community Unit School District 300, part of Superintendent Michael Bregy’s first year at the head of the suburban Chicago school district. Here are some of the videos I took at board meetings and rallies, as well as videos posted by District 300 and the Village of Hoffman Estates, that helped tell that story. To watch this playlist in its entirety (more than an hour-and-a-half!), visit my YouTube channel.

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

PLAYLIST: D300 protests Sears EDA legislation