Business & Economy
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Linda K. Rutten   
Monday, 15 November 2010 10:09

SPRINGFIELD -- The mayors of Illinois’ nine riverfront communities with gaming casinos are asking state lawmakers in Springfield to reject proposed slot machines at Illinois' horse tracks. The mayors agree that these riverfront communities are already struggling and can't afford to lose more jobs in such a poor economic climate.

The mayors of Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, Peoria, Alton, East St. Louis, Des Plaines, Rock Island and Metropolis said their towns have formed a new coalition called Cities Against Slots at the Tracks (CAST). Representatives from the coalition will participate in a drive-down to Springfield on November 16 – the first day of the General Assembly fall veto session -- to protest the legislation. The Mayor of Peoria, which receives a share of local revenue from the nearby Par-a-Dice Casino, has signed on and the organization expects other groups to support the coalition as well.

One of the slots at the racetracks proposals would allow 6,300 slot machines at Illinois' six racetracks, and would create five additional casino licenses --- one license each for Chicago, Lake County, Danville, Ford Heights and Rockford. The millionaire owner of Arlington Racetrack wants slot machines for the track when Arlington Heights has a 7 percent unemployment rate, one of the lowest in the state. The nine riverboat cities have unemployment rates ranging from 8.9 percent to 17.2 percent as of September 2010.

"The intent of the original Illinois Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990 was to create jobs in older Illinois River communities with a need for economic development projects,” said Aurora Mayor Thomas Weisner, whose city has the Hollywood Casino. “We should continue to focus on the original intent of the act, which is providing jobs and economic development for river cities, not for millionaire track owners and well to do communities,” said Weisner.

“Elgin's riverboat, the Grand Victoria, will suffer terribly with slots at nearby horse tracks,” said Mayor Ed Schock.  “This legislation further divides the state’s pool of gambling revenues and shortchanges the same river communities that the original riverboat gambling law was meant to support,” Schock said.

Joliet Mayor Art Schultz has two riverboat casinos in his city. “We are working with riverboat owners to examine the potential impact of slots at the tracks. We believe that this legislation will be extremely harmful to Joliet, Will County and surrounding communities by decreasing our riverboat revenues,” Mayor Schultz said.

According to a report from the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the riverboat gambling industry is already suffering in Illinois from many factors.

• In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, the State’s share of horse racing, lottery, and riverboat revenue reached $1.019 billion, a 4.5% decline from FY 2009 levels. This is the lowest combined total for these revenue sources since FY 2001. The $48 million falloff in overall gaming receipts was almost entirely due to a decline in riverboat transfers to the Education Assistance Fund as lottery transfers and horse racing revenues held flat in FY 2010.

• In FY 2010, lottery transfers comprised 61.7% of total gaming revenues, whereas riverboat transfers comprised 37.6%, and horse racing comprised of 0.7%. Overall gaming per-capita spending declined 3.0% in FY 2010 to $188. This was the third consecutive year of a decline in overall per-capita spending after three consecutive years of increases. 

• Statewide adjusted gross receipts (AGR) for Illinois riverboats in FY 2010 were down 5.0% from FY 2009 levels while admissions were up slightly at 0.6%. This is the third consecutive year of declines in total AGR. State revenues from riverboat gambling totaled $398.4 million, which was a 10.3% decline from FY 2009 levels and was the lowest amount generated since FY 2000. 

• Several factors have contributed to the dramatic downturn in riverboat figures over the last three fiscal years. These factors include the struggling economy, increased competition from other states, and the effects of the graduated tax structure. However, the numbers continue to suggest that the biggest contributor to the drop in Illinois casino revenues is the indoor smoking ban. Since the indoor smoking ban began in January 2008, adjusted gross receipts for Illinois riverboats have fallen a combined 28.0% from pre-smoking ban levels.

• From a regional standpoint, when comparing CY 2007 (pre-smoking ban) vs. CY 2009, AGR for the Chicago area riverboats have dropped 32.8% since the indoor smoking ban began, while the receipts for Indiana’s four closest riverboats in the Chicago area have only fallen 0.4%. Similarly, Illinois’ AGR figures are down 26.3% for Illinois’ two St. Louis area riverboats between CY 2007 and CY 2009, while the AGR of Missouri’s St. Louis region riverboats are up 19.5% (although part of this increase is due to a new riverboat in St. Louis). 

• Using FY 2010 adjusted gross receipts as a guideline, Illinois made up 36.3% of total receipts in the Quad City region (compared to Iowa’s 63.7%), 20.6% of total receipts in the St. Louis region (compared to Missouri’s 79.4%), and 46.7% of total receipts in the Chicago region (compared to Indiana’s 53.3%).

• Riverboats created $84.6 million in local revenue for governments in FY2010, down from $116.1 million in FY 2007. 

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said his city is already suffering from a massive new casino in St. Louis, Missouri, a city with no smoking ban. “It’s hard enough to compete with Missouri’s new sparkling Lumiere Casino but East St. Louis shouldn’t also have to compete with slot machines at nearby Fairmount Park,” Parks said.

Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan, whose new casino is scheduled to open in November 2011, said the legislation will hurt Des Plaines and coalition of mayors will work tirelessly to defeat slots at the tracks legislation. 

The casino gaming industry provides nearly 7,543 jobs, and every year injects more than $1 billion into the state's economy. In 2008, we spent nearly $145.5 million with local vendors and suppliers and stimulate tourism, attracting numerous of out-of-state visitors a year to our communities.

“If we are talking about saving jobs in Illinois, let’s protect the employment of more than 7,500 people already working at our riverboat casinos in the state,” Moylan said.



Russell Construction Honored at Association of Fundraising Professionals Luncheon PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Erin McConaughey   
Monday, 15 November 2010 08:59
Local Construction Firm Receives Outstanding Philanthropy Award

Davenport, IA – On November 10, 2010, Russell Construction was honored as the 2010 Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – Quad Cities Chapter, Outstanding Philanthropic Award Winner at the I-Wireless Center in Moline, IL.

As a company dedicated to giving back to the local community, Russell Construction was honored to be the latest recipient of this prestigious award, which is based on merit and was last awarded in 2006 to KWQC-TV6. Since its inception in 1983, Russell Construction’s commitment to philanthropy in the Quad Cities community has been vast in scope and size. “Lasting Community Impact” is among the company’s core values and is shown through the company’s employees and leadership.
Over the last 15 years, Russell Construction had donated more than $832,000 to local non-profit and community service agencies across the Quad Cities. This coupled with over $197,000 donated to local charities, through a corporate annual charity golf outing, brings Russell’s total financial contributions to more than $1 million over a 15 year period.

A monetary donation to local charity organizations is one way Russell gives back to the Quad Cities community. The entire company actively volunteers and fundraisers for area organizations such as the United Way of the Quad Cities, Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. In 2009, employees donated approximately 4008.5 of personal and 1311.5 of work hours to local non-profit agencies.

“I originally founded this company with the inspiration of building a value-driven company dedicated to the customers and communities it served. We have retained this commitment for the last 27 years and we will remain committed to it for the next 27,” stated Jim Russell President and CEO of Russell Construction.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals represents 26,000 members in 172 chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education, and certification programs. For more information on the Quad Cities Chapter of AFP, please
visit their website at

Established in 1983, Russell Construction is a regional provider of Construction Management, Design Build and General Contracting services. For more information on Russell Construction, please visit their corporate website at


Harkin: $1 Million Coming to Iowa to Improve Workforce Development Data PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 10:58
WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 8, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that $1,000,000 is coming to Iowa through the through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI).  The funding, which was provided for in the FY 2010 Budget, will be used to improve the quality and availability of Iowa’s workforce data.  Senator Harkin is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations committee, and chairs the Senate panel that funds labor initiatives.

“Part of the reason Iowa fared better than other states during this recession is our commitment to investing in our workforce,” said Harkin.  “Today’s funding will help us develop the data we need to make good decisions about our workforce programs so that we can minimize the impact of economic bumps down the road.”

Today’s funding will be used to expand Iowa’s longitudinal database of workforce data, which links to education data.  The database will be used to facilitate research projects aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of workforce programs to better inform workforce system customers.  The project is a sister initiative to the Department of Education’s Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems project to build longitudinal education databases.

Over the three year grant period, this funding will help Iowa improve state workforce longitudinal data systems with individual-level information; improve the quality and breadth of workforce data systems; use longitudinal data to provide useful information about program operations; analyze the performance of education and training programs and provide user-friendly information to customers to help them select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.

For more information on Iowa’s Workforce Development initiatives, please click here.

TAG Communications Inc. Acquires Direct Marketing Solutions PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Mike Vondran   
Monday, 08 November 2010 15:46
Merger Will Result in New Division Called TAG Direct

TAG Communications Inc. has acquired the Cedar Rapids-based firm of Direct Marketing Solutions, and will leverage that acquisition to expand its current direct marketing efforts into a new division called TAG Direct. Direct Marketing Solutions has previously worked with for-profit as well as non-profit organizations throughout the Midwest.

While direct marketing will certainly be a service that TAG Direct will provide, the new division will also specialize in data storage, consumer profiling, and demographic management. “We recognize the potential in direct marketing, and how it can be used proactively to transcend what we typically think of when we hear phrases like direct mail,” says Mike Vondran, President & CEO of TAG Communications. “There is a lot of potential with TAG Direct and the focused resources we now have will drive business growth for our clients.”

Direct Marketing Solutions President Jim Brown, who has been with the company since its inception, joins TAG with over 28 years of experience in the direct marketing industry. Prior to this merge, TAG Communications and Direct Marketing Solutions had collaborated on several projects spanning 12 years, which Brown says made him feel very comfortable joining TAG.

“I’ve always admired TAG Communications for their focus on generating results for their clients,” Brown says. “Now we can fuse our organizations together and have a new way of confronting client sales challenges with complete media integration.”

TAG Direct will be the third niche division under TAG Communications, joining TAG Healthcare Marketing and TAG YP (Yellow Pages). The agreement became effective on November 8, 2011.

Celebrating 20 years of developing marketing solutions, TAG Communications, Inc. was previously known as The Ad Group until the group restructured in 2010. TAG delivers results-oriented marketing and communications strategies to their clients through a range of services that includes strategic planning, account management, media management, graphic design, strategic planning, web services, TV/radio production and public relations.


Treasury Needs Plan to Recoup Taxpayer Investment in GM PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 04 November 2010 08:41
Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley made the following comment on the terms of GM’s initial public offering of stock that were made public today.  Grassley is concerned about whether the taxpayers will be repaid for rescuing the automaker.

“The inspector general confirmed for me weeks ago that the GM initial public offering would need to clear a high bar to repay taxpayers.  The inspector general said GM stock would need to sell for an average of $133.78 a share to fully recoup the tax dollars spent to rescue the automaker.   The highest share price the former GM ever reached was $94.63 in 2000.  Today’s filing says at least 365 million shares will be offered at a projected $26 to $29 each.  Short of a miracle, the initial public offering won’t repay the taxpayers.  The onus is on the Treasury Department to come up with a plan to make sure taxpayers get their money in full.”

A press release describing what Grassley learned from the inspector general follows.

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grassley Finds Out What’s Needed to Make Taxpayers Whole in GM Bailout

WASHINGTON – Continuing to look out for taxpayers in the bailout of General Motors, Senator Chuck Grassley has secured an official determination that the U.S. government needs to sell all its stock in GM at an average price of $133.78 a share to fully recoup the tax dollars spent to rescue the automaker.

The highest share price the former GM ever reached was $94.63 in 2000.

The latest assessment comes from Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for TARP, in response to a request from Grassley last month.  Grassley worked to establish and empower this inspector general in order to hold the government accountable for the use of bailout dollars.

“I didn’t support the government bailout of the automakers, and I’ll continue to work to see taxpayers repaid and to hold the Treasury Department accountable for the sale of the taxpayers’ share of GM,” Grassley said.

Earlier this year, the Iowa senator exposed the misleading claim by the Treasury Department and GM that the car company had “paid back” its $6.7 billion taxpayer-funded loan “in full, with interest, ahead of schedule.  In fact, the loan had been repaid by another taxpayer account.  Because most of the government’s emergency loan to GM was converted to shares of stock during bankruptcy, that money can only be recovered if the government can sell its shares of GM at significantly higher prices than it is currently estimated to be worth.

Click to read Grassley’s letter Barofsky and Barofsky’s reply to Grassley.

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