Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Announces Illinois’ Unemployment Rate Hits New Low PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Hickey   
Friday, 19 December 2014 16:11

Illinois’ Economic Comeback Continues; Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level in More than Six Years

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in more than six years. Last month the state’s jobless rate fell to 6.4 percent, its lowest point since June 2008 and lower than when the Governor took office. In addition, the state added 2,300 jobs in November, for a total gain to approximately 300,000 jobs since the economic recovery started in February 2010.

“Our economy is continuing to grow and create more jobs, and that’s good news this holiday season,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois’ improving economy is a reflection of the tough decisions we’ve made over the last six years.”

Since taking office in 2009 and inheriting a massive financial crisis due decades of mismanagement and the worst recession since the Great Depression, Governor Quinn has made Illinois a better place to do business by enacting major reforms to lower the cost of worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance. He also has achieved unprecedented reforms in pensions and Medicaid while slashing state spending to historic lows. The Governor’s tough actions have helped stabilize the state’s finances and paved the way for more economic growth.

The Governor has led progress in Illinois’ manufacturing sector, a core part of the economy that supports service jobs and goods that are shipped worldwide. The Governor invested $16 million to launch the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute on Chicago’s Goose Island. The institute is a venture of UI Labs that will connect manufacturers to the latest tools and knowledge.

Other major Illinois businesses have thrived under the Governor’s leadership such as Chrysler’s Belvidere plant, where the job total has gone from 200 to 4,500 since the Governor took office. Over the same period at Ford’s plant on the South Side of Chicago, operations have grown from one shift and 1,600 workers to three shifts and 5,100 workers.

The Governor has also continued his support for small businesses by investing in Illinois’ entrepreneurship community. He has invested a total of $8.8 million to assist the 1871 technology incubator and the MATTER medical technology hub, both in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. In its first two years, 1871 and its spinoff companies have accounted for more than 1,000 new jobs.

Governor Quinn’s administration has aggressively recruited businesses to Illinois and negotiated agreements involving hundreds of new jobs with such companies as eBay, the Federal Savings Bank, MillerCoors and Nippon Sharyo USA. In October, Governor Quinn announced that was shipping to Illinois and creating 1,000 new jobs and a $75 million investment in the state.

The state’s comeback has been highlighted from numerous publications and research organizations such as Site Selection magazine, which in 2013 named Illinois third among the states in its number of corporate relocations and expansions. Illinois has also continued to lead the Midwest in net business growth. In addition, the University of Illinois Flash Index rose again in November to 106.6, up for the fourth straight month. The index is a weighted average of Illinois growth across corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.

Illinois worker’s wages are currently the ninth-highest in the country, outranking all neighboring states. Wage growth is one of the key indicators in judging economic growth according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


West Music Named to Internet Retailer Magazine's Hot 100 List PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kelly Goerdt   
Friday, 19 December 2014 15:28

Coralville, IA – December 18, 2014 – West Music, with headquarters in Coralville, IA, was recently named to Internet Retailer Magazine’s Hot 100 List, a list of websites that are recognized by the industry as e-commerce influencers. West Music was honored in the “Specialty” retail category, focusing on retailers that are unique enough to defy classification within traditional merchandising categories. According to Internet Retailer Magazine, “The merchants in this year's Hot 100 specialty category have discovered compelling ways to emphasize what makes them or their products different from those available elsewhere.” To read the full article about West Music, please visit

West Music was recognized by Internet Retailer magazine due to their continued focus on customer service and finding new and innovative ways to service a diverse customer base that includes local and national customers. West Music has continued to focus on establishing business processes that can provide extraordinary service to both general consumers in the B2C space as well as schools and institutions that rely on West Music for their experience in music education products. The customer experience requires a mix of tools to service both the B2B and B2C customer base.

“We are proud of our newest recognition and proud of what our website can offer to our customers on a regional and national level. We offer strong business-to-consumer elements with a lot of B2B elements in the background.” said senior vice president Ryan West.

West Music launched their first website in 1996 and continues to refine its capabilities, search functions, and web platforms to better serve customers locally as well as reaching out to a national audience of music educators.

About Internet Retailer

Internet Retailer Magazine was launched in March 1999 by Faulkner & Gray, a unit of Thomson Reuters. It was purchased in 2000 by F&G CEO Jack Love and some members of his management team, who left Thomson to form Vertical Web Media. Starting with the monthly Internet Retailer Magazine that began in 1999, Vertical Web Media has launched on average a new publication or information service every year since. It now operates a monthly magazine, two web sites, two e-mail newsletters, three conferences and trade shows, and five research guides - all directed to various aspects of the e-commerce business.

3 Retirement Essentials Every Boomer Should Follow for the New Year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 12:30
By: Carl Edwards, MBA, ChFC®

Wow, what an amazing market ride over the last few years!  Running on tracks laid by an unprecedented Federal Reserve monetary easing program, the market has once again run to new all-time highs and appears to still have some steam. Or does it?

While no one really knows the answer to this, it is important to remember history as a guide, and to think about the future -- your future.  It wasn’t all that long ago that the world’s financial system was shaken to its core, leaving many retirees running for shelter from the Ebola-like symptoms displayed by world financial systems.  Fear over which institution or country would next display the almost certain deadly symptoms ran rampant.

I am certainly not echoing the calls of the past and screaming it’s time to get your guns and gold.  I am, however, pointing out to consumers the recent and vivid reminders of the importance to get back to the basics with your financial planning this New Year.  If we fail to remember the past, we repeat it.  You have worked too hard preparing for this time in your life.

Let’s review three vital elements you should implement in your retirement plan this New Year.

•  Get your annual financial check-up. How can we possibly forget to do this?  Annual check-ups are the number one preventative care tool at our disposal.  While many individuals should be meeting more regularly with their financial advisor, everyone should have at least the minimum of an annual visit.  Problems creep up and this is often the best way to catch them before it is too late.

•  Don’t forget to diversify. Are you working with a broker who always wants to sell you mutual funds full of stocks and bonds?  Does your annuity guy think every dime you have should be stuffed into insurance products?  The reality is they are probably both wrong.  Find an advisor this year who knows the benefits of each of these products, but who also knows the value of how they work together.  Diversification is important and it may include each of these products along with other assets such as individual stocks and bonds, Certificates of Deposit (structured and fixed), Business Development Companies, Real Estate Investment Trusts, precious metals, and numerous other investments.

•  Rebalance, Rebalance, Rebalance. With the great equity run up we have encountered since the lows of March 2009, it is vital to remember that we must continue to evaluate our investment portfolios.  While equity portfolios have risen significantly since that time, other areas of our portfolio may not have fared so well, leaving our risk levels in need of adjustment. It is often a good idea to capture some of those hard-earned gains.  You never know -- the next major pullback could be just around the corner.  Be prudent, not greedy!

About Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards, MBA, ChFC®, is a Chartered Financial Consultant® and is the owner of C.E. Wealth Group, ( He has passed the Series 7, Series 66 and Series 63 securities industry exams. In addition, he has passed the Series 24 principal exam. He represents High Street Asset Management as an Investment Adviser Representative and Calton & Associates, Inc. as a Registered Representative.  The views expressed in this article reflect the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Calton & Associates, Inc. or High Street Asset Management. Information contained in this article is not a recommendation, solicitation, or offer to buy or sell securities.  Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results.  Individuals should consult a financial professional before making investment decisions.  Edwards is also a licensed insurance agent in Life, Health, Medicare Supplement and Long Term Care insurances. Edwards received a master’s degree in business administration and is currently completing a second master’s degree in finance from Penn State University. He also is a member of the American MENSA.

2015 Leadercast Lunch & Learn Series PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Todd Ashby   
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 12:19
This year's  Lunch and Learn Recap Series will be held noon to 1 p.m. on January 16, February 20, March 20, and April 17, at DHCU Community Credit Union, 1900 52nd Ave., Moline, IL.
During the Lunch & Learn Recap sessions, videos will be shown of the top four 2014 Leadercast speakers, as determined by attendee survey results. Everyone at the Lunch and Learn events will have a chance to discuss the valuable concepts being presented as they enjoy a delicious Chick-fil-A lunch.
Speakers for the Leadercast Lunch & Learn Recap series will be:  
January 16th - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
February 20th - Simon Sinek
March 20th - Henry Cloud
April 17th - Andy Stanley

Cost of each Leadercast Lunch & Learn Recap session is $15 and includes a complimentary Chick-fil-A lunch. Register for all four sessions in advance and pay only $45 – a savings of $15. 

Capacity for each session is 60 attendees and seats are filling quickly.
To register or for more information, call Todd Ashby of Results Marketing at 563-322-2065 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , follow us on Twitter at @leadercastqc or join our discussion group on LinkedIn – search Leadercast Quad Cities.
Thank you for your support of Leadercast Quad Cities!

Award Winning Workplace Culture Program Used as Workforce Recruitment Tool in Eastern Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Eric Hanson   
Saturday, 13 December 2014 10:57

ICAD Group’s Workplace Culture Initiative Wins Economic Development Award
TEAM Centered Workplace Concept Gaining More Members

The Mid-America Economic Development Council presented its annual Economic Development awards at the 2014 Mid-America Competitiveness Conference & Site Selector Forum, held December 7-9 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago, and the Iowa City Area Development (ICAD) Group Received First Place in the Business Retention and Expansion Category for their entry “Making Iowa City and Iowa’s Creative Corridor a Hub for Workplace Culture.”

Mark Nolte, ICAD Group’s President, said this initiative stems from data collected through its annual existing industry survey.  “As we came out of the recession, we started to see a greater divide among area companies struggling for workers, losing workforce, and those who had unfavorable opinions on local workforce, versus companies that were seeing year-over-year growth,” said Nolte.  “In fact, we noticed that companies that were showing high value and low risk scores were also receiving accolades as some of the “fastest growing” and “best places to work” in our region, so workplace culture became a priority.”

In June of 2013, ICAD Group launched a series of workplace culture programs to help employers realize that today's workers have a choice in companies, locations and communities, and culture plays a key role.

Included in that programming were visits from Hagie Manufacturing, an agriculture implement manufacturer in Clarion, Iowa, to share their story of transformational culture and rethinking the work environment to attract talented people; promoting World Blu’s “Democtratic Workplaces” certification for companies in the region (3 area companies were certified this past year); and the full-day Workplace (R)evolution conference, held this past summer in Cedar Rapids, that attracted attendees representing more than 70 companies from throughout Iowa’s Creative Corridor.

Plans are in place for Workplace (R)evolution 2015 in Iowa City and a workplace culture educational series at Kirkwood Community College. Additionally, a workplace culture coalition has since formed in the region known as TEAM, a concept promoted by ICAD Group and Diversity Focus.  With TEAM, companies declare their intent to become TEAM Centered Workplaces and work toward greater internal collaboration and employee autonomy, through Trust, Enjoyment, Accountability and Managing the Whole Person.

Linda Barnes, Vice President of Organizational Agility for Geonetric, says creating a great workplace culture is critical to attracting and retaining top employees. “ICAD Group’s TEAM concept brings that to life,” said Barnes. “Being part of a coalition that meets monthly to share ideas and practices is invaluable as we grow our company here in the Corridor.”

The TEAM Centered Workplace coalition currently consists of 24 regional employers and continues to add new members monthly.  Participating employers are in varied disciplines, from banking to educational testing, software design to advanced manufacturing, with operations/offices in all seven counties of Iowa’s Creative Corridor.

“When MediRevv first learned about the TEAM initiative founded by our partners at ICAD Group, we immediately saw the value to our organization as well as the opportunity to our Creative Corridor community,” added Brad Baldwin, Vice President of Operations at MediRevv.  “The ideals of the TEAM initiative are foundational to building the human capital it takes to win in our business.  While our mindset at MediRevv was already geared towards these principles, the TEAM initiative has allowed us to continue our momentum and share the ROI of our investments we experienced internally with our community partners.”

Companies looking to learn more about TEAM Centered Workplaces can visit

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