Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Expands Job Training Program for Illinois’ Hardworking Residents PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 17 July 2014 12:58

Construction Projects Will Put Hundreds to Work as Illinois' Unemployment Rate Drops to its Lowest Point Since October 2008

CHICAGO – As Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since October 2008, Governor Pat Quinn today announced Employ Illinois, an expansion of his efforts to provide diverse residents with training for jobs in the construction industry. Offered through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Tollway, Employ Illinois links job seekers with training and also increases the incentive paid to contractors from $10 to $15 an hour for each program graduate they put to work. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and help drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“Putting people back to work is my number one priority,” Governor Quinn said. “There are more people working now than when I took office and today’s good news shows we are headed in the right direction. While we have more work to do, Employ Illinois will help give more of our hardworking residents the opportunity for hands-on training and job experience at a decent wage. Illinois is making a comeback and this program will help ensure our workers have what it takes to get the job done.”

Preliminary data, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, shows Illinois’ rate has dropped to 7.1 percent, the lowest since October 2008 – months before Governor Quinn took office. The drop in the unemployment rate from March to June is the sharpest three-month decline ever recorded in Illinois.

Governor Quinn has directed IDOT and the Tollway to apply the Employ Illinois incentive on as many eligible projects as possible. Employ Illinois workers will take part in many of the projects funded by a new $1 billion road construction initiative that begins in August.

Under Employ Illinois, participants will develop the pre-apprenticeship skills they need to work on construction sites and begin the process of becoming journeymen and journeywomen in the construction trades. Since the $10 per hour hiring incentive took effect, trainees have participated in 269 contracts statewide, resulting in 9,172 hours in on-the-job training that was reimbursed by the state.

“The Tollway’s Move Illinois Program is the largest in our agency’s history and the largest of any toll road agency in the nation,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “Employ Illinois will bridge the gap between these established training programs and the job opportunities that exist on a variety of roadway construction projects throughout Illinois.”

“Employ Illinois is about investing in people as we invest in our roads and bridges,” Acting IDOT Secretary Erica Borggren said. “Through this program, we will provide aspiring workers the help they need to develop marketable skills in the transportation trades.”

The $15 per hour incentive will be paid by the state to contractors that hire Employ Illinois graduates. On IDOT projects, the agency funds the incentive paid to contractors. The Illinois Tollway will fund the incentives paid to contractors that hire Employ Illinois graduates on Tollway projects.

Ongoing projects already utilizing the new $15 per hour incentive include the Circle Interchange in Chicago, Roosevelt Road in Broadview, West Lake Avenue in Glenview, the Grand Avenue bridge in Gurnee, the U.S. 34 and Canadian National Railway separation project in Aurora and the Richton Road and I-57/Stuenkel Road projects in Will County.

Employ Illinois workers will participate in many of the major northeastern Illinois construction projects this season, part of the $1.1 billion capital bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly this spring, including:

·         $48 million reconstruction of the I-55 bridges approaching Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

·         $86 million project to rebuild and repair the bridges at I-55 and Illinois 171 in the southwest suburbs.

·         $44.5 million project to add lanes to U.S. 14 in Crystal Lake.

·         $32.7 million reconstruction of the I-55 and Weber Road interchange in Romeoville.

·         $16.1 million reconstruction of the U.S. 41 and Illinois 132 interchange in Gurnee.

Other projects statewide that could include Employ Illinois workers are:

·         $22.4 million resurfacing and bridge repairs to I-64 in Washington County.

·         $21 million resurfacing of I-57 in Williamson County.

·         $13.6 million resurfacing and bridge replacement on I-57 in Iroquois County.

·         $8.6 million resurfacing and safety improvements on I-74 in Champaign County.

·         $30 million resurfacing on I-70 in Fayette and Effingham counties.

·         $26 million resurfacing of 31 miles of I-39/U.S. 51 in Winnebago and Ogle counties.

At Governor Quinn’s direction, construction projects have exceeded goals for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation. Over the past five years, the Tollway has spent nearly $586 million, or 25 percent of its $2.4 billion contracts awarded, with firms owned by minorities or women. Minority workers on Tollway projects have seen their hours quadruple between 2011 and 2013.

The Illinois Jobs Now!-funded $425 million rehabilitation of the Dan Ryan Branch of the Red Line project included 29 percent DBE participation for the track work component and 40 percent for the station work, with more than $56.4 million in construction work awarded to African-American contractors. The $695 million Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge project in the Metro East featured 24 percent minority workforce participation on the Illinois-funded part of the project, nearly 10 percent higher than the goal set by the Federal Highway Administration and a record for construction projects in the Metro East area.

During the past five years, the state's road-building agencies under Governor Quinn have spent more than $4.2 billion with DBE firms, of which nearly $280 million went to African-American owned firms. This is the largest five-year total in the state’s history. IDOT has seen DBE participation jump from $186 million, or 11.8 percent of all IDOT project spending in 2008, to $353 million and 16 percent in 2013.

Offerings through Employ Illinois include IDOT’s Highway Construction Careers Training program (HCCTP), Tollway’s Transportation Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Training program (TCART) and the Earned Credit Program (ECP), also through the Tollway. For more information about Employ Illinois, visit www.Illinois.gov/employ.

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Social Media for Small Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 14:53

5 ‘P’s” for Your Social Media Marketing Success
By: Jeremy Juhasz

Small businesses and nonprofits face a different set of circumstances when it comes to social media marketing than their larger for-profit counterparts, namely, smaller budgets, fewer employees and a greater priority on traditional forms of marketing.

For those charged with marketing, the biggest first step toward making social media an integral component of the plan may be convincing your organization. Despite widespread use of social networks for personal connections, the leadership of smaller organizations often questions its effectiveness as a marketing tool and whether they’ll see a return on their investment.

I’ve developed and implemented social media strategies for a variety of organizations -- for-profits, nonprofits, and individuals. For all of them, I’ve discovered, when it comes to social media, it’s important to remember the 5 P’s:

1.) Plan - Identify what you hope to accomplish and create a strategy to take you there. Too many nonprofits and small businesses dive into social media because they “have” to and don’t consider a plan of action before they do so. Make a list of what you want to accomplish. Is it to gain more donors? Get a higher attendance at your annual fundraiser? Increase sales?

Make it a priority to identify goals so you can create the social media strategies for meeting them.

2.) Patience - Nothing happens overnight. It takes time to develop relationships and establish credibility with your brand and your target audience. Over time, events and a steady pace will win out. Rushing leads to mistakes.

The type of patience I’m referring to is a long-term mindset. When day-to-day activities seem arduous and, at times, unfulfilling, know that each day builds to the greater goal. March on.

3.) Persistence - You must be stubbornly committed to your goals and your strategy. Keep plugging away and give your plan a fair amount of time and analysis before you pull the plug. If you know the plan is a good one, it’s not a good ideas to panic and change course simply because you’re not seeing results as quickly as you’d like.

That said, circumstances change, not every strategy works, and you need to also be willing to recognize that it is time to try something new.

Be persistent in implementing your plan and in monitoring whether you’re reaching the objectives that will take you to your goal.

4.) Pay (what you can) - These days, especially on Facebook, it’s a pay-for-play landscape. Pay where you can, if you can. The results can provide the spark you need to drive a specific campaign or to increase your overall visibility to your target market. It can also be a very affordable alternative to other digital advertising options.

5.) Prioritize - I can’t stress enough the importance of time management. If your marketing staff consists of only one or two people, it’s essential that you stay on top of your social media strategy by prioritizing your quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily objectives and goals. Nonprofits and small businesses face countless new daily challenges. Sometimes we lose track of what’s most important. Take the time to identify those tasks critical to your success and make them a priority.

You can succeed with social media even if your organization doesn’t have the brand recognition of a multi-billion dollar corporation. If you remain even-keeled and set realistic goals, the return on investment will follow.

About Jeremy Juhasz

Jeremy Juhasz is a social media strategist at EMSI Public Relations and a panelist for the Tampa Bay Marketing Summit, (www.tampabaymarketingsummit.com) on Aug. 8. Jeremy has  years of experience managing social media marketing for the nonprofit sector, including launching social media and online strategies for  Feeding America Food Bank and Goodwill affiliates. His multi-media background includes work as a newspaper reporter and as a marketing professional.  He’s a graduate of Alfred University and attended Kent State’s School of Communication and Information, public relations.

 
Governor Quinn Announces State's Backlog of Bills Falls to $3.9 Billion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Abdon Pallasch, Asst. Budget Director   
Monday, 14 July 2014 13:12

Lowest Point Since Governor Quinn Took Office; Strict Spending Brings Backlog Down from High of $9.9 Billion in 2010

CHICAGO – Governor Quinn today announced that the state's backlog of bills has fallen from a high of $9.9 billion in 2010 down to $3.9 billion as of June 30, the lowest point since the Governor took office. Five years ago, Illinois was home to the worst pension crisis in America and the state’s backlog of bills was on its way to more than $9 billion. Since taking office, Governor Quinn has made tough decisions, enacted major structural reforms and cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion.

“Making the tough decisions has moved Illinois forward," Governor Quinn said. "Today Illinois is in a stronger financial position than we were five years ago and we have more work to do to continue moving our finances in the right direction."

The backlog of bills is now closer to the typical private industry 30-day billing standard – about $2.2 billion in Illinois’ case – and is a direct result of the Governor's willingness to make the tough decisions including overhauling the Medicaid program, reforming worker's compensation and unemployment insurance systems and implementing major efficiencies such as closing and consolidating more than 50 state facilities.

In March, the Governor submitted a balanced budget plan that continued paying down the state's bills, protected education and public safety and secured Illinois’ long-term financial future, but legislators instead postponed the tough budget decisions.

Governor Quinn recently cut Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2015 state budget, zeroing out $250 million for renovations of the state Capitol. In addition, as part of his ongoing budget review, the Governor directed state agencies to identify additional efficiencies, including selling nearly half of the state’s aircraft.

The Governor also directed state agencies to cut 80 paid parking spaces for state employees in downtown garages – more than 30 percent of the total spots reserved. The move will save taxpayers more than $100,000 annually. He also again reduced lease costs for government buildings that will save taxpayers an additional $55 million this year.

Governor Quinn’s budget cuts over the past five years include shrinking the state payroll from 54,000 to 50,000 – the third-lowest number of state government employees per capita in the entire country according to Governing Magazine.

For more information, please visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Documents/Bill_Backlog_Presentation_7.14.14.pdf.

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Governor Quinn Announces State's Backlog of Bills Falls to $3.9 Billion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Abdon Pallasch, Asst. Budget Director   
Monday, 14 July 2014 13:12

Lowest Point Since Governor Quinn Took Office; Strict Spending Brings Backlog Down from High of $9.9 Billion in 2010

CHICAGO – Governor Quinn today announced that the state's backlog of bills has fallen from a high of $9.9 billion in 2010 down to $3.9 billion as of June 30, the lowest point since the Governor took office. Five years ago, Illinois was home to the worst pension crisis in America and the state’s backlog of bills was on its way to more than $9 billion. Since taking office, Governor Quinn has made tough decisions, enacted major structural reforms and cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion.

“Making the tough decisions has moved Illinois forward," Governor Quinn said. "Today Illinois is in a stronger financial position than we were five years ago and we have more work to do to continue moving our finances in the right direction."

The backlog of bills is now closer to the typical private industry 30-day billing standard – about $2.2 billion in Illinois’ case – and is a direct result of the Governor's willingness to make the tough decisions including overhauling the Medicaid program, reforming worker's compensation and unemployment insurance systems and implementing major efficiencies such as closing and consolidating more than 50 state facilities.

In March, the Governor submitted a balanced budget plan that continued paying down the state's bills, protected education and public safety and secured Illinois’ long-term financial future, but legislators instead postponed the tough budget decisions.

Governor Quinn recently cut Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2015 state budget, zeroing out $250 million for renovations of the state Capitol. In addition, as part of his ongoing budget review, the Governor directed state agencies to identify additional efficiencies, including selling nearly half of the state’s aircraft.

The Governor also directed state agencies to cut 80 paid parking spaces for state employees in downtown garages – more than 30 percent of the total spots reserved. The move will save taxpayers more than $100,000 annually. He also again reduced lease costs for government buildings that will save taxpayers an additional $55 million this year.

Governor Quinn’s budget cuts over the past five years include shrinking the state payroll from 54,000 to 50,000 – the third-lowest number of state government employees per capita in the entire country according to Governing Magazine.

For more information, please visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Documents/Bill_Backlog_Presentation_7.14.14.pdf.

###


 
Top 10 Ways People Go Broke PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 14 July 2014 12:54
Self-Made Millionaire Shares Common Mistakes to Avoid

You don’t have to come from a wealthy family, have the next billion-dollar idea or work 18-hour days to become rich, says self-made millionaire Mike Finley.

“You don’t have to be extraordinary in any of the headline-grabbing ways; what you need is the self-awareness to avoid wasting money on short-term, retail-priced happiness,” says Finley, author of “Financial Happine$$,” (www.thecrazymaninthepinkwig.com), which discusses his journey to financial literacy and the principles and practices that allowed him to retire from the Army a wealthy man.

“Money used wisely can give you the financial security associated with the good life.”

Finley lists 10 of the most common money traps that lead to consumers going broke:

•  Make the appearance of wealth one of your top priorities by acquiring more stuff. The material trappings of a faux lifestyle, as seen in magazines and advertisements, are not good investments either financially or in long-term happiness.

•  Work a job you hate, and spend your free time buying happiness. Instead, find fulfilling work Monday through Friday so you’re not compensating for your misery with expensive habits during the weekend.

•  Live paycheck to paycheck and don’t worry about saving money. Live for today, that’s all that matters. Have you already achieved all of your dreams by this moment? If not, embrace hope and plan for tomorrow. (Appreciating your life today doesn’t require unnecessary expenditures.)

•  Stop your education when someone hands you a diploma; never read a book on personal finance. Just about any expert will tell you that the most reliable way out of poverty is education. Diplomas shouldn’t be the end of learning; they should be a milestone in a lifetime of acquiring wisdom.

•  Play the lottery as often as possible. While you’re at it, hit the casino! Magical thinking, especially when it comes to money, is a dangerous way to seek  financial security.

•  Run up your credit cards and make the minimum payments whenever possible. Paying interest on stuff you really don’t need is a tragic waste of money.

•  When you come into some free money, spend it. You deserve it. By that logic, you’re saying that a future version of you doesn’t deserve the money, which can be multiplied with wise investments.

•  Buy the biggest wedding and the biggest ring so everyone can see just how fabulous you really are. Nothing says “Let’s start our future together” like blowing your entire savings on one evening.

•  Treat those “amazing” celebrities and “successful” athletes as role models. Try to be just like them whenever possible. As far as we know, there’s only one you the universe has ever known. Don’t dilute your unique individuality by chasing an image.

•  Blame others for your problems in life. Repeat after me: I am a victim. The victim mentality is an attempt to rationalize poor habits and bad decision-making.

“If you’re feeling uncomfortable with your financial situation, don’t just sit there in a malaise of ‘If only I had more money,’ ” Finley says. “Instead, use it as motivation for a better life; that’s why the discomfort is there.”

About Mike Finley

Like most Americans, Mike Finley was raised with no education in personal finances. Joining the Army out of high school, he realized he didn’t understand money management and began the task of educating himself. After 26 years in the service, during which he practiced the principles he learned, he retired a millionaire. Finley is the author of “Financial Happine$$,” (www.thecrazymaninthepinkwig.com) and teaches a popular financial literacy class at the University of Northern Iowa. He donates much of his time to additional groups, including Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa and organizations serving veterans and current military personnel.

 
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