Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Welcomes Great Lakes Governors and Canadian Premiers to Chicago PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Hickey   
Monday, 28 April 2014 10:39

Two-Day Summit to Focus on Great Lakes Protection, Regional Economic Growth

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today welcomed Governors and representatives from the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces to Chicago for the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2014 executive meeting. The two-day summit is focused on protection of the Great Lakes and finding innovative ways to grow the economy throughout the Great Lakes region.

“We all share the Great Lakes and the responsibility to protect them,” Governor Quinn said. “I look forward to working with this group of regional leaders and taking action on important economic and environmental issues facing the Great Lakes. Together we will find ways to grow the regional economy and ensure safe and clean Great Lakes for generations to come.”

The Council of Great Lakes Governors, which was formed in 1983, is a non-partisan partnership of the Governors of the eight Great Lakes states to tackle the severe environmental and economic challenges then facing the Great Lakes region. In more recent years, the Premiers of Ontario and Québec have joined with the Governors in advancing the high performance economy of the Great Lakes region.

The Great Lakes Governors share a dual stewardship for both the world’s single largest source of fresh water and the economic heartland of North America. The Great Lakes contain one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. The region generates nearly 30 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and about 60 percent of all U.S. manufacturing. Today, the Council's Governors lead strategic alliances to protect our region's natural resources and sustain the region’s economy.

Governor Quinn and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Co-Chairs of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, are hosting the event and are being joined by representatives of Québec Premier Philippe Couillard and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; and Senior representatives of Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.


News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Brad Hahn   
Monday, 28 April 2014 10:30


CHICAGO -Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Friday announced that 458 local leaders from 64 counties this week participated in her office's three-day, seven-city statewide Follow the Money Series aimed at rooting out fraud and making government more transparent.


Hosted in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois CPA Society, the half-day Follow the Money workshops offered presentations detailing best government practices and what community leaders should look for in reviewing budgets and auditing financial records.


More information about the Series, including the CPA Society's presentation, is available at


"If you follow the money you're going to know where there's trouble," Topinka said. "I was overwhelmed by the response from leaders across the state and in their interest in rooting our fraud and delivering better government. By teaming with the FBI and the CPA Society, we've armed local leaders with new tools to identify wrongdoing and protect public dollars.


"The bottom line is that the more set of eyes we have watching government, the more accountable it will be to taxpayers - and that's what Follow the Money is all about."


The Follow the Money Series included workshops in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Springfield, Champaign, Edwardsville and Carterville. Participants traveled from 196 cities and represented 303 governmental bodies. Of the 458 participants, 174 were elected leaders.


The Series is part of Topinka's ongoing effort to make government more transparent and accessible. In launching the state Ledger, she enabled residents to click through everything from the state's bill backlog numbers to agency budgets and employee salaries. She then launched the Warehouse, a comprehensive database that puts Local Government financial information and tens of thousands of records at a single location for taxpayer review. Most recently, Topinka announced that her Office would include an insert in tax refunds with state spending and bill backlog information. Each of the initiatives was completed using existing resources.


"The Illinois CPA Society was proud to partner with the Comptroller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to present information about fraud, an issue that the accounting profession takes great strides to detect and prevent," said Todd Shapiro, President of the Illinois CPA Society. "The workshop series provided local elected officials with new ideas and resources on the importance of financial information reporting and audits and what local officials should look for in selecting an auditor and in audit reports."

A Better Illinois Announces ‘Small Businesses For A Fair Tax’ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Neal Waltmire   
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:57

More than 100 small business owners back a Fair Tax for Illinois, both to spur consumer demand and provide immediate tax relief for 92.5% of small businesses

Chicago, IL – A Better Illinois, the statewide coalition backing efforts to replace Illinois’ unfair, antiquated flat tax with a Fair Tax – with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes – today announced the support of more than 100 small business owners as part of their campaign to put a Fair Tax on the upcoming November ballot. Politicians in Springfield have less than two weeks to pass a bill that would allow Illinois voters to choose for themselves on a Fair Tax in the next election.

Small business owners have cited two key factors in their support for a Fair Tax:

1)    A proposed rate structure that would provide tax relief to 94% of Illinoisans, anyone making under $205,000, putting more money in the pockets of low and middle income consumers which would then be spent on their products and services and

2)    An immediate tax cut for the 92.5% of small businesses with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $200,000 or less that pay the individual income tax rate.

Naperville’s Chris Dupuis, a founding member of Small Businesses For A Fair Tax who penned an op-ed in today’s Crain’s Chicago Business, put it thusly: “It’s simple. A Fair Tax would put money back in our clients' pockets, who would then spend that money supporting small businesses in the area. The lifeblood of any small business is getting customers in the door to purchase their goods or services.”

Dupuis also noted that most small businesses exist as pass-through entities, meaning they ultimately pay the individual income tax rate. “This is an immediate tax cut for the overwhelming majority of small businesses,” said Dupuis, noting that the adjusted gross income of 92.5% of small business filers is $200,000 or less.

Last week, a Better Illinois released a video, “Small Businesses For A Fair Tax,” featuring four Illinois small business owners describing how a Fair Tax would be a boost for their businesses.

Now once again, the DC-based right-wing Tax Foundation is making embarrassingly false claims about a Fair Tax. Not only are they fear-mongering by using rates that are far higher than those proposed in SB350, they've done nothing to make their argument but explain how many small businesses operate as "pass-through" entities. We agree, but we also did some research into what those small business make in terms of adjusted gross income. 92.5% make $200,000 or less, meaning -- far from being a tax increase -- the Fair Tax would be a CUT for the overwhelming majority.

Despite being embarrassed publicly in the past, out-of-state groups are again lying to smear the Fair Tax proposal and deny Illinois voters the chance to decide for themselves on the November ballot. But ask a local small business owner with some skin in the game, and supporting a Fair Tax to boost jobs and growth is a no-brainer.


USDA Announces $150 Million Investment Fund to Grow Small Businesses, Create Jobs in Rural America PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 21 April 2014 15:25
New Fund, Established as Part of White House Rural Council's "Made in Rural America" Export and Investment Initiative, Now Allows USDA to Facilitate Private Equity Investments in Agriculture-related Businesses
Fund is the First of Upcoming Announcements on Boosting Investment in Rural America; White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference to be Held in July

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, April 21, 2014 – As part of the Obama Administration's new "Made in Rural America" export and investment initiative, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the creation of a new investment fund that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. The new Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) will now allow USDA to facilitate private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. Currently, USDA programs exist to help provide loans or loan guarantees to help rural businesses grow, but many small cutting-edge businesses also need equity support in addition to or instead of borrowed funds.

Advantage Capital Partners, which will manage the new fund, and their partners from eight Farm Credit institutions have pledged to invest nearly $150 million into the new effort.

"This new fund will allow innovative small businesses throughout rural America to access the capital they need to grow and create jobs," Vilsack said. "One of USDA's top priorities is to help reenergize the rural economy, and we now have a powerful new tool available to help achieve that goal. This new partnership will allow us to facilitate private investment in businesses working in bio-manufacturing, advanced energy production, local and regional food systems, improved farming technologies and other cutting-edge fields."

The fund is being formed under the USDA's Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). USDA utilizes RBIP to license funds to invest in enterprises that will create growth and job opportunities in rural areas, with an emphasis on smaller enterprises. Working through the USDA program enables licensed funds to raise capital from Farm Credit System banks and associations.

The Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and lending associations specifically chartered to serve agriculture and the U.S. rural economy, is an essential provider of credit to agriculture and rural America. This new partnership between Farm Credit institutions and Advantage Capital, a leading growth capital and small business finance firm, brings together resources and people that are focused on providing more private capital, small business investment and quality jobs to rural America. This public-private partnership will have a tangible positive impact on our rural economy and is a model of how government can serve as a catalyst for private investment in rural America.

Eight Farm Credit institutions providing initial investments in the RBIC fund are: AgStar Financial Services (Mankato, Minn.); AgriBank (St. Paul, Minn.); Capital Farm Credit (Bryan, Texas); CoBank (Denver, Colo.); Farm Credit Bank of Texas (Austin, Texas); Farm Credit Services of America (Omaha, Neb.); Farm Credit Mid-America (Louisville, Ky.); and United Farm Credit Service (Willmar, Minn.).

USDA also announced that it will be accepting applications for other new Rural Business Investment Companies such as the one announced today. Interested applicants have until July 29th to submit their applications for review in FY2014. Any application accepted after this deadline will be held for consideration next year. USDA intends to accept RBIC applications through 2016, detailed information including application materials and instructions can be found at:

In addition, Secretary Vilsack said that the White House Rural Council, as part of the Made in Rural America initiative, will convene the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference later this year to attract additional investments to rural America by connecting major investors with rural business leaders, government officials, economic development experts and other partners. This conference will promote opportunities to invest in rural America by highlighting successful projects in energy, biofuels and bioproducts, infrastructure, transportation, water systems, telecommunications, health care, manufacturing, and local and regional food systems. To learn more about the conference, visit

About the White House Rural Council

To address challenges in Rural America, build on the Administration's rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council. The Council coordinates the Administration's efforts in rural America by streamlining and improving the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural America; engage stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, and local citizens, on issues and solutions in rural communities; and promoting and coordinating private-sector partnerships. With the signing of the Farm Bill in early February, President Obama directed the Council to lead a new "Made in Rural America" export and investment initiative, charged with bringing together Federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. The work of the White House Rural Council and USDA to bring investment to rural America is an example of how the Administration is creating smart partnerships with the private sector to better support Americans in all parts of the country.

About USDA's Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP)

The Rural Business Investment Program promotes economic development in mostly rural areas by helping to meet the equity capital investment needs of smaller enterprises in such areas. USDA licenses newly formed for-profit investment fund entities as Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs). RBICs use the equity raised in capitalizing their fund to make equity and equity-like investments mostly in smaller enterprises located primarily in rural areas.

About the Farm Credit System

For nearly a century, Farm Credit has been a national provider of credit and related services to rural America through its cooperative network of customer-owned lending institutions. Farm Credit provides more than $200 billion in loans and leases to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives. For more information about the Farm Credit System, please visit

About Advantage Capital Partners

Advantage Capital Partners is a growth capital and small business finance firm focused on providing growth capital and other investments supporting state and local economic development efforts. The firm's typical forms of investment include venture, expansion equity, mezzanine financing, senior and subordinated loans and government-guaranteed lending. With offices and partners in New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and other U.S. cities, Advantage Capital has invested more than $1.6 billion since 1992. The firm invests in small businesses across a wide range of industries that are located in geographic areas underserved by traditional sources of capital.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Brad Hahn   
Monday, 21 April 2014 15:22



MOLINE - Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka will welcome more than 60 elected leaders from the Quad Cities on Tuesday at a Follow the Money workshop aimed at rooting out fraud and making government more transparent.

The Quad Cities event is part of a statewide Follow the Money Series hosted by the Comptroller's Office in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois CPA Society. An 11 a.m. address by Topinka will follow presentations from the FBI, CPA Society and Comptroller's Office.

The workshop which begins at 8 am, will conclude at Noon.



WHEN:       11 AM

WHERE:    Black Hawk Community College

6600 34th Ave., Moline

WHO:         Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

Representative from the Illinois CPA Society

Representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Black Hawk Community College President Dr. Thomas Baynum


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