Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Announces $16.8 Million for Construction Projects in Quad Cities Area PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Friday, 01 August 2014 07:56

Investments Will Create Jobs and Drive Local Economy Forward

ROCK ISLAND – Governor Pat Quinn today announced capital investments of more than $16.8 million for construction projects in Rock Island and Whiteside Counties. Funded by his Illinois Jobs Now! construction program, the projects are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“With these investments we are making our transportation system stronger, safer and more efficient,” Governor Quinn said. “The investments are also creating jobs and generating future economic development in the Quad Cities area.”

The projects will be managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Rock Island and Whiteside Counties

Milling, patching and resurfacing will be done along I-88 from half a mile west of the I-80/Illinois 92 interchange to just northeast of the 122nd Avenue/Fargo Road overpass. Advanced Asphalt Company of Princeton was the lower of two bidders at $15,584,118.

Rock Island County

Signs will be removed and installed at various locations throughout the county for $271,941 by Western Remac, Inc. of Woodridge, the lowest of three bidders.

Whiteside County

Illinois Route 2 westbound from 19th to 9th Avenue in Sterling will be milled and resurfaced for $459,655 by Civil Constructors, Inc. of Freeport, the lower of two bidders.

The structural steel on the I-88 bridges over Moline Road will be cleaned and painted for $276,958 by Eagle Painting & Maintenance Co., Inc. of Lansing, the lowest of six bidders.

The westbound lane of Illinois Route 2 at 45th Avenue northeast of Sterling will be milled and patched for $78,644 by G.M. Sipes Construction, Inc. of Rushville, the lowest of four bidders.

U.S. Route 30 at Jackson Street in Morrison will be milled and resurfaced for $164,540 by Martin & Company Excavating of Oregon, the lower of two bidders.

The projects are part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest construction programs in the nation.


Royal Neighbors of America earns prestigious Great Rated! designation from Great Place to Work® Institute PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Lynnette Tarchinski   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:54

(Rock Island, IL)--Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation’s largest women-led life insurers, has earned the designation of Great Rated! from the Great Place to Work Institute. The designation is based on the Trust Index© Employee Survey which was completed by Royal Neighbors employees.

The survey results are reviewed by the Institute for key strengths, culture fit, management involvement, career development, benefits, and actual employee comments to determine the designation. Other companies awarded this prestigious designation include Google, Microsoft, American Express, Nordstrom, and Hyatt Hotels.

The Great Rated! Review describes Royal Neighbors’ unique culture and reflects responses to the survey according to the five dimensions of the Great Place to Work® Trust Index©: Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride, and Camaraderie. Organizations that build trust and create a rewarding cycle of personal contribution and appreciation create workplace cultures that deliver outstanding business performance, improved retention, successful recruitment, and engaged employees.

“This is a great honor because it comes from our employees,” said Cynthia Tidwell, Royal Neighbors President/CEO. “It demonstrates their pride in Royal Neighbors and how they feel about their careers with us. When our employees are engaged in their careers, they are more productive at work and at home.”


About Royal Neighbors

Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation’s largest women-led life insurance organizations, empowers women to meet the needs of their families with annuities and life insurance products such as whole life, term, final expense, and universal life. With assets over $868 million and life insurance in force totaling more than $2.7 billion as of Dec. 31, 2013, Royal Neighbors has the financial strength and stability to ensure its nearly 200,000 members are protected when the expected, and unexpected, happen. In addition to insurance products, Royal Neighbors provides member benefits at no additional cost which currently include scholarship opportunities, health and retail discounts, and participation in volunteer activities that give back to communities through the organization’s local chapters. Royal Neighbors’ philanthropic efforts are dedicated to changing women’s lives through its national programs, including the Nation of NeighborsSM Program, and through the Royal Neighbors Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Royal Neighbors is headquartered in Rock Island, IL, with a branch office in Mesa, AZ. For more information, visit or call (800) 627-4762.

About Great Place to Work Institute

Dedicated for 26 years to building a better society by helping companies transform their workplaces, Great Place to Work Institute is a global research and consulting firm headquartered in San Francisco with 30 affiliates in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceana. The Institute produces the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For and the “Best Small & Medium Companies to Work for in America” lists, in addition to best companies lists in over 30 countries.


Loebsack Launches “Getting Iowans Back to Work” Tour PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Joe Hand   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 13:23

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack announced today that he will kick off the August District Work Period by hosting a series of forums on his “Getting Iowans Back to Work” tour. At these forums, Loebsack will bring together businesses, labor organizations, local stakeholders, and education and training providers to discuss the SECTORS Act. This legislation, a jobs and workforce investment bill that Loebsack introduced in the House, creates partnerships to help close the gap between the kinds of skills that workers have and skills that businesses need. Large portions of Loebsack’s SECTORS Act were recently signed into law by the President as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“When traveling around Iowa meeting with business leaders, I hear time and time again that they can’t find workers with the skill set they need to be able to hire, despite high unemployment rates,” said Loebsack. “There is a gap between the kinds of skills that workers have and the skills that businesses need. The tools created by the SECTORS Act work to address this gap by targeting workforce development efforts to foster the kind of skills that local businesses need right now.”

Loebsack will hold forums in Burlington, Ottumwa, Muscatine, Davenport, Newton, Keokuk and Osceola. Media are invited to attend.

Background on the SECTORS Act

Loebsack’s SECTORS Act links together businesses, labor organizations, local stakeholders, and education and training providers connected to a particular industry. These partnerships work to develop or implement plans for growing or saving that targeted industry, promoting long-term competitiveness and advancing employment opportunities for workers. The inclusion of the legislation will ensure employees on the local level are properly trained so they can effectively compete in the 21st Century global economy. Loebsack first introduced the SECTORS Act in 2009 and the House of Representatives unanimously passed it in 2010. While it was not taken up in the Senate at that time, Loebsack continued to fight for its passage.


Governor Quinn Announces Historic Workers’ Compensation Rate Reductions PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 12:35

Savings from 2011 Reforms Expected to Save $450 Million for Businesses Across Illinois

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has filed a request for lower workers compensation rates, recommending a 5.5 percent drop in the 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 18 percent, saving Illinois’ employers more than $450 million.

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.

“We've been getting the job done on workers’ compensation reform and now that reform is generating hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends for Illinois businesses and workers,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois is making a comeback and historic reforms like these will keep it going strong, driving our economy forward and creating jobs in every corner of our state.”

State officials at the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) estimate the latest proposed reduction in workers’ compensation advisory and loss cost rates could result in overall reduction in premiums of up to $143 million in 2015, with the total savings since the reforms were enacted of $458 million. This estimate is based on the credit rating organization A.M. Best’s calculations as they reviewed 2011 premiums. Individual rates for businesses may vary based on claims experience, payroll and other factors.

The NCCI advisory rates determine the premiums businesses pay for workers’ compensation insurance. DOI actuaries must confirm the calculations submitted by NCCI, a process that typically takes about 60 days.

“We’re pleased that the NCCI has proposed a rate reduction in Illinois for the third straight year,” DOI Director Andrew Boron said. “The lower rate will deliver significant savings for Illinois employers. This rate review process will ensure the state has a responsible advisory rate that supports business growth and protects workers.”

Upon taking office in 2009, Governor Quinn made it a priority to reform workers’ compensation and to work with business owners and legislators on legislation 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.

A steady and significant decline in the advisory rate for workers compensation insurance in Illinois shows that these reforms are working. The advisory rate dropped 3.8 percent in 2013, 4.5 percent in 2014 and will have dropped an additional 5.5 percent for 2015. The downward trend reflects actuaries’ observations that the reform of workers’ compensation in Illinois reduced costs.

“NCCI’s reduction of its advisory rates for Illinois workers’ compensation provides objective proof that demonstrates that workers compensation costs have been reduced in Illinois,” Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Chairman Michael Latz said. “Actuaries are very careful – and before they recommend that insurance companies reduce their rates – they must first have confirmed data showing reduced costs.”

With the implementation of the proposed rate reduction, the advisory rate level will have dropped 18.1 percent below the advisory rate level prior to the 2011 workers’ compensation reform legislation. This will be the fourth rate reduction in five years since the reforms were enacted. Individual companies may experience rate changes at different levels.

If DOI accepts the filing, to be effective Jan. 1, 2015, employers should contact their insurance agent prior to their 2015 renewal date to determine the impact on their premium.


4 Smart Investments Beyond the Stock Market PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 14:43
With Speculations About an Impending Downturn,
Investment Entrepreneurs Suggest Options

As major stock market indexes continue to climb, so too are concerns on the “fear market” – VIX, the CBOE S&P 500 Options Volatility Index, says entrepreneur Dean Anastos.

“Advances in the market have been relatively thin in volume, and the declines have been heavier; in general, there seems to be too much complacency among investors, and there are hints here and there that the market is not as bullish as many have supposed,” says Anastos, who specializes in real estate, computer programming and trading data communications equipment.

“Now may be a really good time to look elsewhere for smart investments,” says his business partner Ricky Brava.

Anastos and Brava review some of those options.

•  Real estate is still growing. No area was hit harder by the recession than real estate. Since then, however, the getting has been good for prospective buyers looking for a profit, yet many remain gun shy due to the hard lessons of 2008-09. Meanwhile, the housing recovery continues as prices are getting back to where they once were. In many markets, buying is still cheaper than renting, “although this is not true everywhere,” Anastos says. “Ultimately, it depends on the area, the loan and how long you may be looking to live on the property – or, if you want to rent a property out, which continues to be very lucrative today.”

•  Banks have plenty of distressed debt; consider a deal. ( “We buy distressed debt bank portfolios that aren’t generating cash for the bank and work with the families in the homes to refinance at affordable rates,” says Brava, senior partner at Apollo Financial Group, founded by Anastos, who adds, “If we can’t work it out with the owner, the property gets a second chance, rather than sitting vacant, when we sell the loans as non-performing first or second lien bank notes.”

Conduct a thorough title search of the property to reveal any liens. Check with the county to ascertain what, if any, outstanding property taxes are due. Contact a local real estate agent to get an estimation on the property and its as-is resale value.

•  Keep in mind tax-advantaged investments. Tax-advantaged investments can include real estate partnerships, oil and gas partnerships and suitability, which refers to how appropriate an investment may or may not be to an investor. Two of the most common types of real estate partnerships, for example, are low-income housing and historic rehabilitation. The federal government grants tax credits to those who construct or rehabilitate low-income housing or who invest in the rehabilitation or preservation of historic structures.

•  Pay attention to possible changes to Roth IRAs – still a good option, so far. This is still a good investment option for retirement, even though significant changes have been proposed by the White House. Your allotted money goes into a Roth after it’s already been taxed, but earnings aren’t taxed. Unlike traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, Roth owners currently don’t have to take annual distributions after turning 70½ — which means the money has even more years to grow if the owner doesn’t need it. And once the Roth owner dies, the beneficiary inherits the money tax-free. President Obama says this isn’t what was intended in a Roth and wants to change this advantage, yet his proposal continues to face mass opposition and many think it won’t pass.

About Dean Anastos and Ricky Brava

Dean Anastos is the founder of Apollo Financial Group, (, and Ricky Brava is senior partner. Anastos is an entrepreneur with a background in real estate, computer programming and trading data communications equipment. Brava specializes in education, marketing and new business development, with an expertise in data-driven, long-term strategic planning. Both men have a strong interest in business opportunities that help resolve societal problems.

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