Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Announces Nearly 20 Percent Reduction in Workers’ Compensation Costs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Hickey   
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 08:35

Governor’s Historic Reforms Continue to Drive Illinois’ Comeback and Increase Savings for Businesses Across Illinois

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that workers’ compensation costs in Illinois have dropped 19.3 percentage points since the passage of workers’ compensation reform in 2011. This drop, reported by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), reflects a major reduction in the cost of claims paid by insurers and provides key savings for businesses across Illinois. News of the significant reduction comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that Illinois’ unemployment rate has dropped to an almost six-year low.

Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to strengthen Illinois’ business climate, drive economic growth and ensure that all workers are treated fairly and receive the compensation they deserve.

“The major workers’ compensation reforms we enacted in 2011 are protecting workers while continuing to reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois’ economy is making a comeback and major reforms like those to workers’ compensation are driving it. We are getting the job done for our hardworking men and women and businesses across Illinois.”

The NCCI credits these reductions in workers compensation costs to the 2011 reform signed by Governor Quinn. The Council is an independent bureau that analyzes workers compensation data nationwide and provides information and research to the insurance industry.

“The NCCI’s reported decrease is proof that workers compensation costs are significantly lower than they were in 2011,” Chairman of the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission Michael Latz said. “This demonstrates that insurance companies have had to pay less money on claims since 2011 and have enjoyed more profit.”

Illinois’ combined ratio for workers compensation costs is 93.7 percent. When applied to an insurance company's overall results, the combined ratio is a measure of the insurance company’s profit against losses – a combined ratio below 100 percent shows an underwriting profit. Since 2010, the combined ratio for insurance companies writing workers compensation insurance in Illinois has decreased from 121.4 to 93.7. This indicates that insurance companies are experiencing a decrease in paid losses and retaining more profit.

Today’s news follows an announcement from NCCI in July that it had recommended a 5.5 percent drop in the workers compensation advisory rate for 2015. This decrease will bring the total rate reduction since historic reforms championed by the Governor were enacted in 2011 to more than 19 percent, saving Illinois’ employers more than $450 million. The NCCI advisory rates determine the premiums businesses pay for workers’ compensation insurance.

Last month Illinois’ unemployment fell to a six-year low. During July, 11,200 new private sector jobs were added, including 3,900 manufacturing jobs. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily since July 2013, when it stood at 9.2 percent, and has completed its steepest 12-month decline of 2.4 percentage points since August 1984. Since February 2010, Illinois has added 263,100 private sector jobs.

Governor Quinn made it a priority to reform workers’ compensation and to work with business owners and legislators to make it easier to do business in Illinois. He launched a working group on the issue, proposed legislation and worked with the General Assembly to enact historic reform that is allowing businesses to save hundreds of millions of dollars, driving economic growth throughout the state.

Since taking office and inheriting decades of mismanagement, Governor Quinn has enacted major reforms that are saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The Governor has saved taxpayers more than $3 billion by overhauling Illinois’ Medicaid system, cutting Medicaid spending and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. He also passed comprehensive pension reform that will save taxpayers more than $140 billion over the next 30 years. Over the last five years, Governor Quinn has cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion.

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Minimum wage momentum is fueled by the facts PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jack Temple   
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 08:29

Over the past year, a record number of states and cities have taken action to raise the minimum wage. These long-overdue wage increases have won support in both “red” and “blue” parts of the country, and have passed with the shared backing of workers and businesses alike.

In fact, a virtual consensus exists today in support of raising the minimum wage, which would not be possible if, as Mr. Romeo suggests, voters were simply responding to an “urban myth” about the challenges facing low-wage workers. To the contrary, it’s a testament to just how clear that facts have become that workers, businesses, and voters across the country now agree that raising the minimum wage is a top-tier priority for boosting the economy.

It’s important to look at the whole picture when considering the impact of raising the minimum wage. While it’s true that those earning exactly $7.25 per hour tend to be younger, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would raise pay for 28 million workers earning between $7.25 and $10.10 (and likely some earning just over $10.10, as employers adjust their pay scales upward).

U.S. Census Bureau data confirm the following facts about workers who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour:

  • 88 percent are adults over the age of twenty – not teenagers, as many opponents of raising the minimum wage suggest;
  • The average worker contributes nearly half of his or her family’s entire income, meaning that those who would benefit from raising the minimum wage are not working for side-money but in fact are breadwinners their households;
  • Over 14 million children – nearly one out of every five children in the U.S. – have at least one parent who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Indeed, it’s precisely because so many workers and their families now rely on low-wage jobs to make ends meet that growing numbers of small business owners – including those in the restaurant industry –have started to support raising the minimum wage. After all, when workers do not earn enough to afford the basics, consumer spending plummets, draining the economy of the demand it needs to grow.

A poll released by Small Business Majority in March of this year found that 57 percent of small business owners support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and that 52 percent of small business owners agree that increasing the minimum wage would boost consumer demand, helping them grow and hire.

The facts are clear: raising the minimum wage is a win-win for workers and businesses alike – it’s those who continue to oppose raising the minimum wage that have rested their case on a myth.

From Aftan Romanczak:
Unfortunately, the public won't realize what they have approved in wage hikes until they see the price inflation on menus because operators will not absorb the cost increase. They also don't realize that if the minimum wage is $15.00, every employee above that rate must be moved up incrementally.

From “Jeff”:
You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The government is involved because you are too greedy to pay a living wage. I hope fast food prices skyrocket and you all go broke.

From Tim Borden:
Be careful what you wish for, consumers!

From “Roccobiale”:
If the public votes in favor of these wage hikes, what you will see is restaurants do either or both of the following: Replace servers with tablets, or add a service fee to the check ( replacing the tip) and the restaurant controls the fee and distributes the monies as they see fit. Restaurants can't pay servers $15 and have them make $ 200 a night while the back of the house gets paid way less. [It] can't happen.

From “Roccobiale”:
Putting the minimum wage to a vote is like asking the foxes if they want to the door to the chicken coop left open. Why is government involved in the business of setting wages for private industry?

 
MILITARY COST CUTTERS, opens in Hilltop Campus Village Studio Offices PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Scott Tunnicliff   
Saturday, 06 September 2014 07:58
Main Street Iowa Grant Business Innovation Grant helps start ups and small businesses.

A new business is starting in Davenport, thanks to the vision of entrepreneur and Marine Corps veteran Aaron Serrano, with assistance from the manager of an office building in the Hilltop Campus Village, and a grant obtained by the Hilltop Campus Village. The QC Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at 11:00AM Friday Sept. 5 to help welcome them to their new offices at the Priester Building, 601 Brady Street, #301.

The journey began when Ted Priester, local attorney and the building’s owner and Scott Tunnicliff, Hilltop Campus Village Director got together to apply for a Main Street Iowa Business Innovation Grant, which was offered last year to Main Street District throughout the state. The proposal called for the HCV and Ted to commit resources in equal amounts to the conversion of space on the third floor into office suites, with costs to be matched by the Main Street Iowa grant.

“We are proud and pleased to have Military Cost Cutters as our first tenant under this program”, said Ted. They are performing a great service to the region, and we’re glad our unique product matches their needs.” The suite is one of several being made out of what used to be a large office area built for and occupied by Priester Construction Company, who built the building over 50 years ago. “We have some supporting amenities, such as copying, a microwave, a refrigerator, free parking, utilities and internet connections, but it is basically for the service provider needing space for their service, room for their laptops and cell phones or whatever.”

“The office suite concept is an option that really speaks to a niche in the market”, says Tunnicliff. “We were aiming at start-ups, not for profits and home-based businesses, and anticipated having to do a lot of marketing and promotion to get this going. But networking and word of mouth has achieved a lot. Ted is in charge of negotiating with prospects, and we are pleased that leads have been furnished by the Small Business Development Center, among others.”

Military Cost Cutters is an online platform that connects military-friendly businesses with current military members and veterans. At the ribbon cutting CEO Aaron Serrano will explain more about the company and about the official launch of their Loyalty Rewards program. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and learn more by visiting the website at www.militarycostcutters.com

 
Grace Engineered Products/Letter2Word – Business Expansion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by T. Brecht   
Friday, 05 September 2014 08:17

5001 Tremont Ave. and 1515 E. Kimberly Road
Total Investment: $2.7 million
Total Public Investment:$30,000 IEDC High Quality Jobs Program
Jobs Created: 11-15 (Grace) 3-5 (Letter2Word)
Status: Expansion in progress

Philip Allen is a serial entrepreneur who grew Grace Engineered Products Inc. from a virtual one-man operation into a global manufacturer of electrical safety devices employing 25 here in Davenport. Now, he plans to not only expand that business and add up to 15 new employees, but is helping nurture a start-up called Letter2Word.

Grace is a worldwide leader in electrical safety products, especially the GracePort panel interface connectors, which allow users to either service an electrical cabinet without opening its panels or at least determine whether it is safe to open from the outside. Allen pioneered the application of Safeside voltage indicators into lock-out, tag-out procedures, which help improve worker safety while working on electrical equipment. Customers of this Davenport-based company include such giants as Ford Motor Co., Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark.

The company started in 1993, when Allen and some associates were working on a friction welder retrofit project at John Deere. Work was needed on a relatively dangerous machine with an interface in the front and an electrical panel with a 250 horsepower drive and a 400 amp main feed  inconveniently located at the rear. The only way to access the machine for maintenance was to open the doors, but the maintenance supervisor understood this caused a potential hazard.

"The supervisor insisted they keep the door closed," said Allen. "The end result was the panel interface connector, which would become an industry standard."

Now, the company sells all over the world.

"We just got an order for 40 units from Italy and another large order for Australia." About 20 percent of the company's product is exported, about half of it to Canada. This growth, both internationally and domestically, drove the decision to expand. Allen has purchased a building at 1515 E. Kimberly Road, which will house a mix of expanded Grace operations as well as the new and growing Letter2Word operations. The Iowa Economic Development Association board awarded the company $30,000 in direct financial assistance and tax benefits through its High Quality Jobs Program, due to the increase in employment that will result from the expansion.

Grace Engineered Product's unique process - Allen holds several U.S. and international patents for thru-panel electrical safety devices - allow it to mass produce customized products.

"We can get a specific order in one day, even with a specialized logo, and have it out the door the following day in most cases," Allen said.

The 15 or so new employees he hopes to add later this fall will come into a workplace that values employee engagement. It's a pet-friendly office, and several dogs can be seen wandering around at any given time. There is a large, warmly decorated break room and the factory floor and inventory bay are bright, clean and neat. To qualify for the IEDC incentives, starting wages start at $17.47 an hour and include full health benefits.

Allen said he chose to expand in Davenport both because of convenience and because of its outstanding workforce.

"We have good, hardworking people who show up on time, do their jobs and don't quit," he said. "The city was also very responsive and helped us work with the state."

Another reason space was getting tight was due to the growth of Letter2Word, a startup home and business design and decor company co-founded by Allen's wife Jane, her friend Sally Dailey and Dailey's daughter Shannon Evans. The company creates  hand-painted words and phrases that can be hung indoors or outdoors to share unique messages. The letters are created on the same precision cutting machines that Grace uses for its products, making the businesses perfect for co-existing.

Sally said the company has already secured several large accounts, and will need to add 3 to 5 new employees at the new location on Kimberly Avenue to meet the demand for product delivered this spring.

"We have just had such a great working relationship with Phil and his staff," she said. "He calls it cross-pollination of  business and it really seems to work."

Allen said he is an entrepreneur at heart who loves innovation, so stand by for more business ventures in Davenport going forward.

 
Braley Labor Day Statement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 13:37

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement in honor of Labor Day:

"Labor Day has always been a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy the traditional end of summer. But the real purpose of Labor Day is to celebrate American workers, who have been responsible for the most innovative and powerful economy in the world.  Better and safer working conditions exist because American workers fought for them. American workers deserve jobs that pay a living wage for a hard day's work. On this Labor Day, my thoughts are with the hardworking Americans who make our lives better and help make America the greatest country in the world.”

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