Business & Economy
President's proposal on U.S. trade agency consolidation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 16 January 2012 15:28

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on President Obama’s proposal to reorganize and consolidate U.S. trade agencies.

“The enactment of trade agreements has been a hard slog with the President.  Any reorganization that disrupts trade negotiations and expanded markets for U.S. businesses and farmers would cause me serious concern.  Consolidation that doesn’t hurt export opportunities might make sense.  Congress will need to look at this proposal carefully.  It’s not surprising that the President is focusing on this area for consolidation.  Trade is already a lower priority than it should be for this White House.”

Von Maur Department Store to Open Second Georgia Location PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Brendan Griffith   
Friday, 13 January 2012 09:31

140-year-old Retailer Will Anchor Perimeter Mall in North Atlanta;

Move Continues Company’s Strategic Expansion Throughout the Southeast


DAVENPORT, Iowa – January 11, 2012 – Von Maur Department Stores announced today its plans to open a 234,000 square foot store at Atlanta’s Perimeter Mall in November 2012.  The store will be the Company’s second location in Georgia and will become one of Von Maur’s largest stores in the country.

Known for its outstanding selection of brand name and specialty apparel, shoes, accessories and gifts, the store will feature products from leading brands such as Eileen Fisher, Free People, Coach, Joe’s Jeans and Tommy Bahama, among many others.  Located at the mall’s former Bloomingdales’ location, the three level Von Maur store will be completely renovated in order to feature the Company’s signature residential ambiance, complete with antiques, original artwork, open-floor plan and music from the store’s grand piano. It is expected that the store will eventually employ 275-325 full-time and part-time associates, the majority of which will be full-time.

Today’s announcement marks the continuation of the family-owned Company’s strategic growth, targeting select markets within and beyond its traditional Midwestern roots. Von Maur opened its first Southeast location at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, Ga., in November 2011, and has announced plans to open additional stores in Hoover, Ala., and Victor, N.Y., in Fall 2013.

“We’re thrilled to become a part of the successful Perimeter Mall, and look forward to furthering our reputation as a retailer of choice for shoppers throughout Greater Atlanta and beyond,” said Jim von Maur, president of Von Maur.

In addition to its selection of popular brands and merchandise, Von Maur is also widely-regarded for its superior customer service, including an interest-free charge card, liberal return policy, free gift wrapping and shipping services. The Company also offers its associates above-market wages, excellent benefits and a positive, professional work environment.

About Von Maur

Von Maur was founded nearly 140 years ago in downtown Davenport, Iowa. The Company currently operates 27 stores in 11 states. The Company also runs a successful online business at, in addition to a new chain of women’s specialty stores under the nameplate DRY GOODS.  For more information, please visit

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Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Boost Tax Relief for Working Families PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 16:04

Increase to Earned Income Credit and Personal Exemption
to Help Working Families and Stimulate Local Economies

CHICAGO – January 10, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed major legislation to increase tax relief for working families across Illinois. Senate Bill 400 doubles the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) over two years, saving low-income workers an extra $105 million per year. The new law also benefits all Illinois taxpayers by improving the value of the personal exemption and indexing it to inflation. Throughout the fall veto session, Governor Quinn insisted that tax relief for working families be part of the package.

“One of the best ways to stimulate the local economy is to put more money in the pockets of working families,” Governor Quinn said. “This law is a win for workers, a win for families and a win for employers that will support job growth across Illinois for years to come.”

Senate Bill 400 provides the largest increase in Illinois’ EITC since its inception in 2000, by phasing in a 5 percent increase over two years. The bill boosts the state’s EITC from its current level at 5 percent of federal EITC, to 7.5 percent in tax year 2012 and 10 percent of federal EITC in tax year 2013. More than 2.5 million state residents benefited from the Illinois EITC in 2010.

Under the new law, a single mother with one child, earning minimum wage ($12,800 a year), will save $154 on her taxes. A married couple with three children earning $30,000 a year will save $199 on their taxes this year.

Uniquely pro-growth and pro-family, EITC is available only to those with earned income and provides incentive to work as well as much-needed tax relief to the lowest-income families. EITC also boosts local economies through increased consumer demand. A 2006 Brookings Institution study found that every dollar a family saves through this tax credit translates into $1.58 of activity in local economies.

SB 400 was sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago.)

”The tax relief contained in Senate Bill 400 will benefit every person who files a tax return in Illinois,” Sen. Hutchinson said. ”Working families for too long have had to deal with increasing expenses and stagnant wages. This legislation is an opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief.”

"A fair tax policy should help low-income working families, and our expansion of the state’s EITC will do just that,” Rep. Currie said. “This credit rewards work, and will help families keep a roof over their head and food on the table."

Senate Bill 400 also improves the value of the standard personal exemption for all taxpayers in Illinois and ties its continued growth to the rate of inflation. The personal exemption will increase by $50 (to $2,050) in tax year 2012, and the value of the exemption will be indexed to the cost of living adjustment each tax year thereafter. The personal exemption change benefits all taxpayers, regardless of income.

Senate Bill 400 goes into effect June 1.

How to Benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

To benefit from Illinois’ EITC, also known as the Earned Income Credit (EIC), taxpayers must include it on their tax returns. The not-for-profit Center for Economic Progress (CEP) estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of eligible taxpayers did not file for EITC last year.

To help working families achieve the maximum savings on their taxes, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) partners with the CEP Tax Counseling Project to provide free tax preparation assistance at tax assistance centers across the state. The services are provided free of charge to families making less than $50,000 annually and to individuals with yearly incomes under $25,000. More than 28,000 Illinois taxpayers filed returns through the program in the 2010 tax season, with more than $50 million in state and federal tax refunds returned to clients.

DHS also funds the Tax Assistance Program (TAP) which has 23 locations in Chicago and the suburbs. TAP recruits tax professionals to volunteer to assist low-income families. DHS also works with its clients and those who found jobs and have left DHS programs to educate them about tax preparation programs and ways to ensure they receive the maximum refund on their tax returns.

For more information on the Tax Counseling Project, contact the Center for Economic Progress in Chicago at 312-630-0273, or call the toll-free statewide number at 888-827-8511. For information on the Tax Assistance Program call 312-409-1555 or 312-409-4318 (Spanish).  Details are also available on the IDHS website at and the Department of Revenue website at


Information about filing federal taxes on-line can be found at


Moody Gives Illinois Lowest Possible Credit Rating PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jonathan Wallace   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 15:07

Wallace: “Illinois has fallen into a debt spiral…”


Rock Island, IL…Jonathan Wallace, candidate for State Representative in the 72nd District, released the following statement after Moody downgrades Illinois bond rating again:


“This news is disappointing, but not surprising. Illinois has fallen into a debt spiral, and career politicians like Pat Verschoore choose to hide their heads in the sand and ignore the problem. The downgrade, coupled with unfunded pension and retiree healthcare benefits, will result in more unpaid bills. We need to start having an adult conversation about our budget priorities in Illinois or we will continue to spiral downwards towards financial ruin.


“The voters of the 72nd District are paying attention, and they're tired of failed policies in Springfield. We deserve better and I am committed to reforming spending and finding new ways to save money for the sake of the next generation. When elected next November, I will make balancing the budget and restoring our state's credit rating my top priority."


Jonathan Wallace is running for State Representative in the 72nd District. Wallace is a former Township trustee who founded his own small business and has worked in the Illinois House.



Governor Quinn Highlights South African Trade Efforts PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 15:51
Rev. Jesse Jackson to Represent Illinois at 100th Anniversary of African National Congress

CHICAGO – January 4, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that as part of his efforts to grow the economy and boost exports, Illinois-based civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson will represent the state at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa next week.

“Overseas trading with fast-growing nations is a key to expanding Illinois’ role in the global marketplace, creating jobs here at home and growing our economy,” Governor Quinn said. “Rev. Jackson will serve as a goodwill ambassador to South Africa on behalf of Illinois as the ANC celebrates its long history of fighting for justice and equality.”

The ANC was created in 1912 to preserve voting rights for black South Africans, and it later took the lead in the movement to eliminate apartheid. Rev. Jackson visited South Africa in 1979 in the midst of racial apartheid and again on Feb. 11, 1990 when Nelson Mandela was freed after spending 27 years in prison at Robin’s Island. At the 1984 Democratic Convention, Rev. Jackson rallied against racial apartheid, calling it a moral disgrace and led several mass marches in the U.S. and U.K. in support of equality. He was also a member of the official U.S. delegation to witness the inauguration of Mandela to the South African Presidency in 1992. The ANC centenary ceremonies will begin a year of celebration throughout the country as it continues its political and economic transition in the 21st century.

South Africa is the top importer of Illinois products in the African region, accounting for $613 million in economic activity in 2010 – a 13 percent increase from 2009. Overall, Illinois ranks third in the U.S. among states exporting goods to South Africa. Following the country’s liberation, Illinois established an international trade office that helps Illinois and South African companies to form mutually-beneficial economic partnerships.

Through the third quarter of 2011, exports to South Africa were up an additional 53 percent over 2010 levels. This growth is being driven by an increase in Illinois machinery exports to support the country’s growing mining industry and investments in large infrastructure projects. South Africa produces 90 percent of the world’s cobalt, 80 percent of its chromium and platinum, 70 percent of its tantalite, 64 percent of its manganese, 40 percent of its gold, 33 percent of its uranium, and at least 10 percent of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves.

Today’s announcement is one of several business and economic partnerships the Governor has announced as he builds upon his aggressive goal to double state exports by 2014.


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