Business & Economy
3 Proven Management Techniques That Work in Any Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 15 August 2014 13:26
Identify the ‘Influencers’ on Your Front Lines, CEO Advises

In business, the only thing that matters is what works, says Peder Johnsen, a third-generation specialist in senior living communities.

“The people in your company who are dealing with your customers – the clerks, the caregivers, the customer service reps – are where the rubber meets the road,” says Johnsen, CEO of Concordis Senior Living,, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities.

“That’s why it’s essential for the company leaders, the men and women in the offices that are often far from the front lines, to be where the action is on a regular basis,” he says.

Concordis’ specialties include managing senior-living communities for other owners and developers, an art it has perfected, Johnsen says.

“We developed certain practices over the decades, first by building assisted-living communities and then by operating them,” he says. “These practices work in any business because they keep the leadership actively involved in what’s going well – and not – on the front lines, and provides a system for regular communication through all layers of the company.”

Johnsen offers these tips for management that produces excellent results:

•  Identify the influencers in each work group. As with most businesses, senior living communities require teams of staff, from administrators to housekeepers and everyone in between. Within the various groups that make up your business, identify the key players – the people who influence others’ behavior, whether or not they hold a title or official authority. Meet with them on a regular basis so you can stay plugged in to what’s happening on the front lines.

•  Identify areas that need improvement. Talk to them about systems and areas that need to be fixed, overhauled or eliminated, and about how team members are working together. They’ll often have ideas for innovations. The idea is not to look for people or problems to blame, but to work together to develop solutions and improve the team’s overall efforts.

“The information you get in speaking with these key players is invaluable,” Johnsen says. “There may be nothing at all wrong, which is great, but these meetings give you, the CEO or manager, the information you need to constantly improve. It also reinforces the message to employees that they and their ideas are valued members of the team.”

•  Figure out those “wildly important goals.” You can have the best people in the field working for you, yet if they’re not specifically guided to a certain goal, they are putting their time and effort toward an end that they’re assuming is correct. CEOs and other upper-level managers have the 30,000-foot view, so it’s up to them to guide everyone beneath them.

“Short-term priorities may change slightly or drastically on a regular basis,” Johnsen says. “Your team may be self-sufficient, but their vision is limited to their daily duties. If they don’t know that a goal or objective has changed, they can’t work toward it.”

About Peder Johnsen

Peder Johnsen is the CEO of Concordis Senior Living,, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities. He’s a third-generation assisted-living specialist whose grandfather and father built one of the first contemporary-style ALFs in Florida more than 30 years ago. Johnsen took over administration of two small facilities at age 18. Today, he runs the full spectrum of ALFs – from “ALF lites,” where most residents live very independent lifestyles but know assisted-living services are available if they should need them, to homes specializing in care for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. He is an industry leader in staff development and training, and has overseen the development, acquisition and financing of several communities.

Governor Quinn Announces Illinois’ Unemployment Rate Drops to Near Six-Year Low PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Friday, 15 August 2014 13:17

Visits Chicago Manufacturer to Announce State’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 6.8 Percent in July with 11,200 Private Sector Jobs Added

CHICAGO – As Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since August 2008, Governor Pat Quinn today visited Wheatland Tube, the largest pipe and conduit manufacturer in North America, to discuss the state’s ongoing economic comeback. Illinois’ unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent in July, its lowest level since August 2008. Wheatland Tube is among many Illinois businesses that are adding new jobs to the state’s workforce and fueling the economic recovery. Today’s event is part of the Governor’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“Illinois’ comeback is going strong and we’ve got more work to do,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois manufacturers like Wheatland are helping to drive our economy forward by creating good jobs and supporting local communities across the state. Today’s news that unemployment has dropped to its lowest level in nearly six years is further proof that we are heading in the right direction.”

Illinois’ unemployment rate declined in July to 6.8 percent from June’s 7.1 percent, according to data released earlier today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. 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.

As part of his agenda to drive the state’s economy forward, Governor Quinn has taken unprecedented steps to support Illinois’ manufacturers, which supports jobs in service industries and sends Illinois products worldwide. His signature effort in the field of manufacturing was a $16 million investment in 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.

Since taking office in 2009, Governor Quinn has enacted worker’s compensation reform and unemployment insurance reform to make Illinois a better place to do business. Other major fiscal reforms such as pension reform and Medicaid restructuring are restoring fiscal stability to Illinois. Today Governor Quinn is pushing a new tax cut for businesses that provide job training. Lowering cost to train workers will make it easier for businesses to create new jobs and will ensure workers have the skills to drive a 21st century economy.

Wheatland Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group, began processing steel in Pennsylvania in 1931. Its Chicago facility began operation in 1969. The manufacturer of standard steel pipe, fence framework, fire sprinkler pipe, electrical conduit and mechanical tube employs 211 people at its Western Ave. plant but expects that number to increase by 10 percent over the next 12 months. In addition, Wheatland hired 51 new employees in 2013. Illinois is also home to Atlas Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group and the JMC Steel Group headquarters in Chicago. JMC Steel employs 300 people at the two locations.

“We are excited to have several of our largest tubing facilities located in Chicago,” Jim Hays , Wheatland President of Electrical, Fence and Mechanical Tube, said. “Our Illinois location is central to multiple modes of transportation that allows us to move material economically through America. With support from the state, we have hired a diverse labor pool with the skill sets required to support all levels of our organization.”

Wheatland Tube has received approximately $66,000 in Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) funds that will help enhance the skills of its workforce. JMC received approximately $200,000 in state job-training this year to conduct a second round of industrial maintenance and advanced electrical maintenance training. The advanced training has helped current employees to improve their skills in key electrical and mechanical areas.

For more information on doing business in Illinois, visit

How to Escape Your Unemployment (or Under-Employment) Trap PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 12:27
Principal Recruiter Lays the Blueprint

There’s good news for jobs in the United States.

• In June, the private sector added 288,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• The unemployment rate has shrunk to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008, when the Great Recession was just starting. The rate has dropped nearly 2 percent since the beginning of 2013.

• The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as tracked by Gallup, now stands at one of its highest points since tracking began in January 2010.

• More companies, states and cities are either raising their minimum wage or considering it.

Does this mean that we can put our minds to rest regarding jobs and prosperity? Not exactly, says Richard B. Alman, principal and chief career/employment strategist of Recruiter Media, owner of, the world's largest owner/operator of career websites.

“It’s great that reports show improvement, but the good news comes with an asterisk; we need to keep in mind the term that has become so common since 2009 – the ‘new normal,’ which, in part, refers to a lower expectation for prosperity,” says Alman, who has managed human resources for Fortune 100 and smaller multi-national companies.

“Raising the minimum wage, for example, is a step in the right direction for many, but it’s certainly not happening everywhere and it doesn’t guarantee a living wage. California raised its minimum to $9 per hour, but that’s a state with a very high cost of living.”

What is the quality of these new jobs, and how many hours do they offer? What about the Catch 22 ensnaring the long-term unemployed, who can’t get work because they don’t have jobs? And where’s the hope for the recent college graduates who are deeply in debt and can’t find the jobs they’ve prepared for?

Alman has a blueprint that can help would-be employees in these tough positions.

•  One word: volunteer. “This is, by far, the best advice I can offer if you feel like you’ve tried everything and it hasn’t worked,” he says. Volunteering can pay very high dividends for anyone who is unemployed, under-employed or simply looking for a new career trajectory. It helps current and future employees of any age.

“You may not see the payoff right away, but volunteering has many long-term benefits,” he says.

•  Volunteer in positions that will build your resume´. “When you volunteer, you can update your skills and resume´, which shows potential employers that you’re not lazy,” Alman says.  “Ask for jobs that use the career skills you have. For instance, if you have a background or degree in marketing, look for opportunities to volunteer in marketing for a non-profit.”

For those with stretches of long-term unemployment on their resume´, volunteering is the best way to show future employers that you value staying active and building new skills. And, if you’re a low-wage worker at a fast-food restaurant, for example, you can have a whole new headspace in which to consider your future.

•  Work on developing leads. “You can be just like everyone else who’s desperate for a decent job or you can be proactive and build professional relationships, which do more than resume´s to earn interviews and employment,” he says.

The non-profit sector attracts people who are passionate about a cause, a wide range of associated professionals and, frequently, people who are in high income brackets.

•  Where can folks go to volunteer? A half-hour of research online can yield viable options for legit non-profit organizations. Other great sources are hospitals, which tend to work closely with non-profit organizations. Hospitals also involve a wide variety of professionals.

“Once again, if you work well and develop great working relationships with others, you open yourself up to a whole network of possibilities,” he says. “Who you know can make the difference.”

About Richard B. Alman

Richard B. Alman is the principal and chief career/employment strategist of Recruiter Media Inc., the world's largest owner/operator of career websites, which offers recruiters, employers and job seekers a smarter alternative to the impersonal, less-specific “universal” employment websites. has been the only national, city-specific job board on the planet for more than a decade, serving more than 1,000 US cities with their own unique career web site. Alman has worked in all aspects of recruiting and career/employment strategies with corporations such as General Motors and UBS and privately owned multi-national companies.

Know an Outstanding IA/IL Business? Nominate It for an MRA Award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Mark McLaughlin   
Monday, 11 August 2014 13:49
IOWA/WESTERN ILLINOIS – This year, residents of Iowa and western Illinois will have an opportunity to recognize and celebrate outstanding businesses in their communities. MRA - The Management Association, Inc., a Midwest-based employers association, will host an award ceremony recognizing exemplary businesses that act as role models within their communities. The public is invited to nominate qualifying businesses for recognition at the 2014 Business Appreciation & Awards Reception. The deadline for award nominations is August 22, 2014.

The reception will be held on Monday, October 27, 2014, at the iWireless Center, Moline, Illinois beginning at 5:00 p.m. The theme of the event will be Celebrating Our Past, Growing Our Future. The keynote speaker will be the Honorable Jim Edgar, former Governor of Illinois.

“We look forward to reviewing nominations from the community, telling us about exceptional businesses that have touched people’s lives,” said Heather Roberts, Executive Director of the Iowa/Illinois Division of MRA. “Individuals who are interested in entrepreneurship, business growth, networking and leadership will want to attend our annual event.”

Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, MRA is one of the largest not-for-profit employers associations in the nation, serving 4,000 employers and their 800,000 employees in the U.S. and abroad.
Prestigious Awards for Exemplary Businesses
Members of the community are invited to nominate Iowa/Illinois businesses that exemplify success by investing in their people and their community. MRA is now accepting nominations for the following awards:

The MRA Business Community Award recognizes a business that has created an impact in the Iowa/Illinois region in three or more of the following areas:
- Has shown significant growth over the past five years and has increased employment.
- Recognized in the community for its ‘give back’ attitude.
- Has benefited the community by its presence.
- Participates in a variety of volunteer roles within the community.
- Known for outstanding customer service.
- Supports charities that benefit Iowa/Illinois area communities.

The MRA Regional Impact Award recognizes an organization that has created an impact in the Iowa/Illinois area in three or more of the following ways:
- Provides or has influence on the growth of jobs in Iowa/Illinois area communities.
- Recognized as a leader within its industry or service area.
- Recognized outside the Iowa/Illinois area for products, services, and/or changes.
- Provides a positive influence in the Iowa/Illinois area regarding transportation, environment, education, quality of life, and other community issues.
- Has shown commitment to the Iowa/Illinois area through new construction, redevelopment, or expansion.

“At the event MRA will present Visionary Awards, as well, to their charter members, who in 1948 came together to create an association that would foster and promote an effective array of programs and services,” Roberts said. “MRA will also honor the retirement of employee Debra Carlson after 19 years of dedicated service.”

The Awards Reception
The Business Appreciation & Awards Reception, to be held October 27, 2014, begins at 5:00 p.m. with gourmet appetizers, cocktails, and music provided by Ellis Kell and the Friends of the River Music Experience. Dress will be business attire.

At 6:30 p.m., the keynote speaker, the Honorable Jim Edgar, will share his vision on exploring future opportunities in the Midwest. Master of Ceremonies Kai Swanson will begin the awards presentation at 7 p.m. Admission is $75 per person, $550 for groups of eight. 

If you wish to nominate a business or register for the awards reception, call 888-516-6357 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also visit and search ‘awards’. The Business Appreciation & Awards Reception page provides links to online nomination forms, and an event registration page is also available. 

For more than 110 years, MRA has helped businesses to thrive. Organizations join MRA as corporate members for the latest information, resources and guidance on recruiting, compensation, benefits, compliance and talent management. Members are supported with a 24/7 HR Hotline and InfoNow e-mail, access to crucial survey data, and HR, management and leadership training. To find out more about MRA, call 888-516-6357 or visit
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Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Jim Edgar
Jim Edgar, a Distinguished Fellow with the Illinois Institute of Government & Public Affairs (IGPA), was the 38th governor of Illinois. First elected in 1990, Edgar won re-election in 1994 by the largest margin ever for a governor. By the time he left office, he had eliminated the backlog in payments of the state's bills, given the state a surplus, and reduced the size of state government. Edgar has served in a variety of leadership roles, including president of the Council of State Governments, as a member of the executive committee of the National Governors’ Association, and as chairman of the Midwest Governors’ Association. He has also been a Resident Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Edgar serves on a variety of civic and corporate boards of directors.
Master of Ceremonies: Kai Swanson
Kai Swanson is executive assistant to Augustana College’s president, Steve Bahls. He has held this position since 2005. Swanson has been on the staff of the college since his graduation in 1986. His past positions at Augustana include news editor for WVIK-Augustana Public Radio, public relations director, and editor of the Augustana College Magazine. In 2011, he served as interim general manager of WVIK. Swanson grew up in Rock Island, Illinois, just across Lincoln Park from the Augustana campus.

Tell me your thoughts - minimum wage PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Rep. Dave Loebsack   
Monday, 11 August 2014 13:44
In these difficult economic times, far too many Iowans are working hard but still struggling to make ends meet. I grew up in poverty and understand what it is like to sit around the kitchen table and worry about how the bills are going to get paid. I support increasing the minimum wage so that hard working Iowans are able to maintain a basic standard of living, but I want to know what you think.

Please click here to share your thoughts with me.

I believe it is time for Iowa's workers to get a raise, but I also understand the difficulties small businesses face in meeting their bottom line. We must grow an economy that works for all Iowans. It is important for me to know what you think about proposals to raise the minimum wage.

Click here to take a quick survey to share your opinion with me.


Dave Loebsack
Iowa's Second District

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