Business & Economy
Schilling Contracting Amendment Adopted in Small Business Committee Markup PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Monday, 19 March 2012 10:59

Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) successfully offered an amendment to the bipartisan Small Business Opportunity Act (H.R. 3980) during the Small Business Committee’s markup on contracting bills and the Small Business Administration (SBA) budget this afternoon.  This bill, which was approved by the Committee, is part of the House Committee on Small Business’ contracting reform initiative.  More information on the Committee’s initiative can be found here.  

The Small Business Opportunity Act will make it easier for small businesses to compete for contracts by allowing their advocates greater participation on the process. Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBUs) and Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) are an important part of making certain our small businesses have the opportunity to compete for government contracts, providing invaluable advice and assistance to small firms during the sometimes lengthy and procurement process.  For that reason, it is important that these advocates have the necessary training to advise small businesses. 

Schilling’s amendment would allow current PCRs who have not yet achieved the certification requirements in the Small Business Opportunity Act five years to receive the necessary certification and training to comply.  Without this amendment, the Small Business Opportunity Act may have resulted in the SBA having to let go of PCRs that help small businesses but do not yet meet the certification requirements in the bill, harming small business by interrupting the procurement process. 

“With so many families and businesses struggling with increasing food and energy prices, it is important that folks in Washington work to advance job creation,” Schilling said. “This is a short, sweet amendment that would ensure PCRs maintain their jobs as they receive the certification and training necessary to comply with the underlying bill.  I am grateful to the Chairman, Ranking Member, and my colleagues who introduced the bill for working with me on this bipartisan amendment, and am thankful for the support of fellow members of the Committee.”

Schilling worked with Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) to ensure legislation was signed into law that would remove the cap on the number of public-private partnerships Arsenals can enter into, increasing the ability of the Rock Island Arsenal to enter into contracts, grow their workload, and create jobs.  As part of the Committee’s contracting initiative, Schilling in February introduced the bipartisan Building Better Business Partnerships Act (H.R. 3985) with Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), to help remove bureaucratic impediments for small contractors wishing to do business with the federal government and enable them to grow and create jobs.  The Small Business Committee is expected to mark up Schilling’s bipartisan contracting legislation in the coming weeks.

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Governor Quinn Announces Agreement to Create 1,450 Jobs and Boost Wind Manufacturing in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 19 March 2012 07:43

Supports Commitment to Renewable Energy, Job Creation


CHICAGO – March 6, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced an agreement between Rock Island Clean Line LLC and Flora, Illinois-based Southwire Company that will support wind turbine and transmission manufacturing in Illinois and create 1,450 union construction jobs under a project labor agreement in Illinois over a three-year construction period. The agreement supports Governor Quinn’s commitment to growing the renewable energy sector in Illinois and continues Illinois’ leadership in the green economy. The governor announced the agreement after delivering the keynote address at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Regional Wind Energy Summit held today in Chicago.


“Illinois is a leader in the renewable energy sector, and agreements like these are helping make Illinois even more competitive,” Governor Quinn said. “These cutting-edge projects will help maintain Illinois’ national leadership in wind energy and manufacturing, and create good paying, home-grown jobs.”


Under the agreement, Southwire will supply the overhead transmission cable for the Rock Island Clean Line project. This project will consist of approximately 500-mile overhead, high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that will deliver 3,500 megawatts (MW) of renewable power from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota to communities and businesses in Illinois and other states to the east. Construction of the Rock Island Clean Line could begin as early as 2014 and continue over the next few years.


“We are very pleased that Clean Line has chosen to work with Southwire as they prepare for the construction of the Rock Island Clean Line HVDC line.  Such projects help to address the infrastructure needs that are critical to delivering renewable power to the population centers in the Midwest,” stated Charlie Murrah, President of Southwire’s Energy Division. “Transmission cable demand of this magnitude enables Southwire to continue its 60+ year leadership position in energy cable manufacturing and to contribute to the vitality of communities in which we operate such as Flora, Illinois.”


The Rock Island Clean Line will enable approximately $7 billion worth of investments in new wind energy projects to move forward, which today cannot be constructed due to the lack of transmission. The project will also allow Illinois greater access to low-cost clean wind energy and will deliver enough energy to power more than 1.4 million Midwest homes.


Clean Line President Michael Skelly said, “Clean Line Energy is committed to sourcing as many of the needed materials as possible from local companies in the Rock Island Clean Line project area. We are excited to work with Southwire on a project that will power Illinois homes and businesses with clean energy. We believe it is increasingly important to invest in energy infrastructure in order to contribute to local economies, create new jobs in America and improve energy security. We look forward to continuing to work with Illinois authorities, state leaders and communities as our project moves forward.”


A study conducted by Illinois State University found that wind energy in Illinois supports local economies by generating $22.2 million in annual property taxes, and supports nearly 600 permanent jobs and over 13,000 construction jobs. According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are 2,743 MW of wind generation installed in Illinois, enough to power nearly 1 million homes, and 523 MW of new wind is now under construction. Illinois was the number one state for new turbines installed in 2011, with 404 turbines erected last year. The Chicago-area is home to the U.S. or global headquarters of 14 wind developers or manufacturers, more than any other U.S. city. Illinois is also home to hundreds of companies in wind component manufacturing, supply chain, or that provide services to the industry.


For more information on Illinois’ renewable energy industry, visit the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s State Energy Office at



Inquirehire Offers Pre-Employment Social Media Screening Services to Employers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Helen Funkhouser   
Monday, 19 March 2012 07:17
Inquirehire is pleased to announce an important new social media screening service that will help
employers acquire valuable public information about employment candidates.

Traditional background checks protect employers by revealing an applicant’s past behavior. Social
media screening provides additional protection by revealing an applicant’s current behavior. The
Inquirehire social media screen can identify several areas of concern for employers including violent
activity, illegal activity, racism/intolerance, and sexually explicit material. Social media screening is
offered in 3 levels to suit each employer’s specific needs; basic, comprehensive, and executive.

The Inquirehire social media screening service utilizes advanced technology to search more than 200
websites for information based on each employer’s specific criteria. A trained analyst then reviews all
material for job relevance before finalizing the report, which normally takes 48 hours to complete.

Studies indicate that many employers already conduct their own social media checks on employment
candidates. But the use of internal resources puts the employer at risk because they cannot “unsee”
protected class information. The Inquirehire social media screening service redacts protected class
information so the employer is protected. This service has been reviewed by the Federal Trade
Commission and has been certified to be compliant with the FCRA and Title VII.

“At Inquirehire, we help employers optimize every hiring decision”, says Jim Sweeney, President of
Inquirehire. “Social media screening provides valuable public information in a fully compliant manner,
and that helps employers make better hiring decisions.”

About Inquirehire

Inquirehire is headquartered in Davenport, Iowa and operates nationally. Inquirehire provides
talent acquisition systems, applicant screening and evaluation services, and on-boarding
systems. All Inquirehire solutions are integrated, web-based, and fully configurable to meet
the needs of organizations of all sizes and types. For more information about Inquirehire, visit


Governor Quinn Pursues Economic Development Opportunities in Canada PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Annie Thompson   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:31

First Visit by Governor in 15 Years Will Help Promote
Illinois Trade, Business and Tourism


TORONTO – March 5, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn is in Canada today on an economic development visit where he is promoting Illinois’ trade and business opportunities, as well as tourism and life sciences industries. This is the first trade-oriented visit by an Illinois governor to Canada in over a decade and builds upon Governor Quinn’s commitment to strengthening relationships with Illinois’ key trading partners.


“Illinois has always been a global business leader, and through our aggressive efforts to increase exports, attract international visitors and develop innovative new partnerships in growing and emerging fields,” Governor Quinn said. “This visit is an opportunity for us to further promote Illinois on a global stage, work toward our goal of doubling Illinois exports by 2014 and create economic opportunities for the future.”


Governor Quinn opened the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) trade show, the leading foodservices and hospitality event in Canada. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Department of Agricultural administered federal funding and technical support to 10 Illinois companies with exhibits at the show. The funding comes from a $1.26 million State Trade Export & Promotion (STEP) grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The show will help those companies increase their exports and global reach. A list of the 10 Illinois exhibitors is attached.


Canada is Illinois’ largest export market, receiving more than $19.17 billion of Illinois exports in 2011, a 28 percent increase over 2010. Illinois exported more than $1.18 billion in agricultural, food and related products to Canada in 2011. Canada is Illinois’' fourth largest market for foreign direct investment and Illinois' top market for international visitors. More than 150 Canadian firms are located in Illinois that employ nearly 36,837 Illinois residents.


Governor Quinn also met with key members of the life sciences and bio-energy communities at a meeting hosted by MaRS (medical and related sciences) Innovation and MaRS Discovery District at the MaRS Center. The Governor discussed opportunities for collaboration in emerging biotech fields and highlighted the importance of Canadian participation in the BIO International Conventions that Chicago will host in 2013 and 2016. More than 900 Canadian biotech professionals attended BIO 2010 in Chicago - the largest delegation of any of the 61 countries attending the convention.


Illinois ranks first in the Midwest and eighth nationally in terms of high-tech jobs, according to Tech America’s Cyberstates 2011 Report. After setting records for attendance in 2006 and 2010, Illinois will again host the BIO International Convention in 2013 and 2016. The success of BIO 2010, along with other key initiatives recently implemented in Illinois - the Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit, Illinois R&D Tax Credit extension, and Illinois Innovation Council - earned Governor Quinn the title of 2011 BIO “Governor of the Year.”


While in Canada, Governor Quinn continued his efforts to increase tourism by promoting Illinois as a top destination for business and leisure travel during the “Visit Illinois” tourism luncheon held in Toronto. Governor Quinn was joined by Illinois Office of Tourism Deputy Director Jan Kostner to highlight the state’s attractions, travel destinations and access to transportation to encourage more Canadian business and leisure travel to Illinois and Chicago. More than 100 Canadian travel executives, tour operators and travel writers attended the luncheon, along with members of the Executive Committee of the Discover America Canada Committee, U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, and U.S. Consul General Kevin Johnson.


Illinois welcomed more than 1.1 million international visitors in 2010, maintaining Illinois’ rank as the 7th most popular U.S. state for international visitors. In 2010, Canada was Illinois’ top market for international visitors followed by the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany and Japan. Canadians made 452,000 visits to Illinois last year, which contributed $227 million to the state’s economy.


More information about Illinois trade and business opportunities can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website at



Staking New Ground – Construction Supply Company Finds Quick Road To Success PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Cameron Clement   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:17
Innovation in Niche Market Leads to Rapid Start-up and Expansion Right off the Bat.

BlackBat Trueline Stakes started as a business idea involving the supply of wooden survey stakes for the construction industry including oil and gas, pipeline and highway rights-of-way, and infrastructure renewal projects.  This led to a new business model, which has found rapid acceptance and quick growth.

In 2009, BlackBat Stakes’ co-founder Bob Reeves presented Howard Bagby with an opportunity to establish a survey stake company. Howard, who has 30 years experience in the oil and gas business, was familiar with the need of this product, considering how much survey work is done before drilling projects start.

“I recognized that there was a need for high quality wooden stakes for our surveyors to use, and Bob’s plan would do something about it,” Bagby said. After speaking further with Reeves, Bagby discovered the stakes were from multiple sources that were inconsistent and consequently the quality was often below standards. “The quality varied so much that often an area had to be re-surveyed or would take too long to get right simply due to undependability and breakage of the stakes,” Babgy said. “This made Reeves’ proposal very interesting.”

Reeves’ idea was simple: “If we put a better survey stake in the market, we could save a lot of time and money in the cost of a project.”

In 2010, they bought a small Alma, Ark.-based regional stake maker and invested in new technologies that allow the company to produce a high volume of high-quality stakes that lead the industry in low breakage rates and durability. “We were very fortunate in the beginning. Once we got our manufacturing process worked out with our new designs, our volume and consistency was much better than we ever expected,” Howard said.

As BlackBat began introducing its stakes, made of pine or hardwood, to the market in February 2011, growth was immediate.  Orders increased every month.  Customers love the smooth finish on the stakes, making them easy to write on. The stakes’ consistent quality and straightness ensure survey projects are more efficient and accurate.

While BlackBat is excited about the rapid growth they are presently experiencing, the company also is staking its claim in the future. “We would like to see our company and its processes grow nationally.  It will be very easy for us to replicate this manufacturing process in other states. Wherever high quality wood products are sold we want to be there, and we want our name to be recognized,” said Reeves, now General Manager at BlackBat.

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