Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Launches New Video to Show Pension Squeeze Impact on Children PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Monday, 17 December 2012 14:09

“Kids Don’t Have Lobbyists: Part I” is Latest Installment of Thanks in Advance Campaign


CHICAGO - December 11, 2012. The impact of the pension squeeze on future generations of Illinois children is the focus of a new video posted today as part of Governor Quinn’s “Thanks in Advance” Internet campaign to educate Illinoisans about the urgent need for pension reform. A two-part video - “Kids Don’t Have Lobbyists: Part I” - goes behind-the-scenes at a children’s focus group about breakfast cereal which turns into a serious discussion of pension reform. As the gravity of the pension problem becomes clear and the kids realize their voices are not always heard, they decide to hire a lobbyist.

View the first part of the “Kids Don’t Have Lobbyists” video at or the “Thanks in Advance” Facebook page.

“Nobody has more at stake in fixing the pension problem than the children of Illinois," Governor Quinn said. “In the past decade, the pension squeeze has forced lawmakers to make deep cuts in early childhood education, after-school programs and grants for college-bound students. Tomorrow’s children face a difficult future unless we act responsibly to ease the pension squeeze.”

According to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, state spending on public pensions is projected to exceed education spending by 2016. The state's pension payments - which made up just 6 percent of the state’s budget in 2008 - have soared to 16 percent of the budget in 2013. That increase has “squeezed” the education portion of the budget from 30 percent down to 26 percent. The “squeeze” by pension payments on essential state services is the focus of “Thanks in Advance,” which has attracted more than 30,000 unique visitors since its launch to the website.

The “Kids Don’t Have Lobbyists: Part I” video joins three videos on the “Thanks in Advance” website, including one launch video and two videos by legendary “explainer” and founder of the Khan Academy, Salman Khan. Khan was named by Time Magazine as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People for his commitment to offering a “world class education for everyone everywhere”. Part II will be launched in the coming days.

In April, Governor Quinn proposed a plan that would rescue the pension systems, ensure employees have access to benefits and prevent skyrocketing pension costs from eating up core services like education and healthcare. The governor's plan would fully fund the pension system by 2042. "Thanks in Advance" aims to build public awareness about the need for legislative action on pension reform in Springfield and empower citizens to make their voices heard. The legislature is scheduled to work January 3 - 8.


VC Insurance for all your insurance needs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Tyler Van Camp   
Thursday, 13 December 2012 08:37

About Us: My great-grandfather opened Al VanCamp Agency in Davenport in the early 1900's and my grandfather continued to run the family insurance business until the early 2000's. I always had a desire to start the family business back up, so after much research, education and licensing, I opened VC Insurance in August 2012.

We're a small, independent agency owned and operated out of Davenport, IA and we offer home, auto, business (commercial) and life insurance throughout all of Iowa and Illinois. Because we're an independent agency, we work with multiple insurance carriers (currently up to about 50 different carriers) to offer our clients a diverse choice in their search for the right insurance. We are also a Trusted Choice Independent Agency through The Big I.

Mission Statement: VC Insurance is dedicated to serving the greater Quad City Area by providing financial and insurance services, as well as educating our clients about what their insurance means to them and how valuable it truly is. VC Insurance strives to be a reputable insurance agency that cares about their clients on a personal level rather than thinking of them as simply a policy number. We are reinventing the way you experience insurance and are bringing back the personal touch that has been lost by most of the bigger companies. Forming relationships and proper care of our clients is a family tradition that we plan on continuing.

Our website is and we also have a Facebook account at

It’s Write a Business Plan Month: How to Include Your Marketing Strategy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:55
By: Marsha Friedman

December is National Write a Business Plan Month - so designated to encourage unhappy employees to become their own satisfied bosses. Whether your goal is to own your own business, become a consultant, a speaker or an author, you'll need to start with a business plan.

Even if you launched your business years ago, it's important to revisit and refresh your plan. In recent years, the economy, technology and consumer habits have changed rapidly and dramatically, affecting every aspect of your business. That makes it absolutely vital to re-evaluate your short- and long-term strategies.

One of the most critical elements of any business plan is your marketing strategy. Too often, people don't think through that all-important component with the same rigor they tackle aspects like projected cash flow and long-term goals.

Or, they do put thought and effort into planning for market research, promotion and positioning - and then never follow through on their great ideas.

One problem is that most entrepreneurs (or professionals or authors) don't have marketing experience. They may be skilled tradesmen, savvy financial advisers or talented writers - the expertise they plan to build their business around - but they're not marketers. Some don't realize that executing a solid marketing strategy is essential to any venture's success; others know it's important but don't know where to begin.

Here's why it's so important: You may have the book that changes the way business is done, or the product that solves a problem for lots of consumers, but if no one knows about it, they can't come looking for it. Marketing is the fundamental building block of any business; it's what drives the business, so it can't be an afterthought.

The marketing component of your business plan should include a budget for time (if you're going to tackle the job yourself) and/or money. You need a timetable and a professional website that attracts visitors and makes it easy for them to learn more about you, your product, book or service -- and equally easy to purchase what you're selling.

Here are some other points to consider as you're developing your marketing plan:

• What is my message? Your message needs to be more than "My product is great." What's the problem it solves? If you're a professional, what's the value you and your service offer? How are you different from your competition? As an example: At EMSI, we create visibility and credibility for our clients using a pay-for-performance model that guarantees media exposure and sets us apart from our peers.

• Who is my audience? Unless you have a niche product, consider your potential audience in terms of ever-expanding ripples. For instance, a collapsible coffeepot may be just the thing for a college student's tiny dorm room. That's your initial target audience. But his parents and grandparents, who are helping outfit that dorm room, might also be audiences. If they've downsized their living quarters, they might just want one for themselves, too. In fact, it could be great for campers, boaters - anyone living in a small space.

• Which are the appropriate media outlets for a PR campaign? Social media is great for niche products because online forums build communities around common interests. Daytime TV talk shows tend to have audiences with lots of women. Most newspaper readers are now 55 or older. Once you have decided who your audience is, figure out what they're watching, listening to, reading, and doing online, then customize your message for that medium and audience.

• What's your budget? When you've answered these questions, you should be able to determine how much marketing you can do yourself (if you'll be doing any at all) and how much you'll need help with. If you're handling it yourself, budget for the time it will take to do things like keeping your website active with fresh blog posts once or twice a week; posting content on social media; developing pitches to get print, radio or TV interested. If you plan to pay a professional for marketing services, use your marketing plan to explore the costs and timetable, and budget accordingly.

Whether you're launching a dream or strengthening your existing business, you need to lay a good foundation with a solid plan. If marketing isn't an important component of that plan, your rocket to the moon will likely fizzle and fade.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (, a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST.

Heartland Institute Legal, Economic Experts React to Michigan Right-to-Work Law PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jim Lakely   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:50

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder pledged to sign a bill as early as today that would make Michigan the 24th “right-to-work” state in the country. Among other things, the new law would end the requirement that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment.

The following statements from legal and economic experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and 312/731-9364.

“This is a great victory for American workers. Now 45 percent of Americans are covered by these laws, and it is only a matter of time before the other big Midwestern states follow suit or have their lunches eaten by Indiana and Michigan.”

Richard Vedder
Professor of Economics
Ohio University
Policy Advisor, Economics
The Heartland Institute
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“For the past 20 years, all of the top-performing states in the country have had right-to-work laws. None of the worse-performing states have had such laws. With its right-to-work law, Michigan will become one of the nation’s premier performing state economies.”

Robert Genetski
Policy Advisor, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute

“It’s deja vu all over again for those of us who live in Wisconsin, as taxpayers foot the bills for riot police in Lansing and paid holidays for teachers so they can protest.

“And all of the taxpayers in this country paid for the destruction to the Michigan auto industry brought to its knees by union overreaching. Despite these subsidies, GM still went through bankruptcy and has not yet recovered. Yet automakers in right-to-work states are thriving. The handwriting is on the wall; the teachers evidently can’t read.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
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Ms. Martin is a resident of rural Wisconsin.

“Michigan is poised to open up its labor market and to discover the dynamics of a free market which has been suppressed for far too long by the political class in concert with union leaders. Monopoly power created by union shops where workers must pay union dues or lose their jobs has caused long-term injury to industry in Michigan, resulting in high unemployment and a growing underclass leading to social deterioration. As a Michigan Law School graduate, I congratulate Governor Snyder for his courage in dealing with this corrosive abuse of business and the citizens of the State of Michigan.”

Paul Fisher
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
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“Everyone is for the freedom of workers to choose whether or not they want to join a union, except for the unions. That is what their opposition to right-to-work means. Right-to-work only means the freedom of each worker to choose, which is central to the entire American social contract. States with right-to-work also enjoy more rapidly growing jobs, lower unemployment, more rapidly growing wages and incomes, and more economic growth. Michigan will now enjoy this too, reversing its decades-long decline.”

Peter Ferrara
Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute
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Mr. Ferrara is the author of America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb (2011)

“With Michigan following Indiana, which became the first industrial Midwest state to establish right-to-work last year, we now have a virtual circle of competition between states to establish the best conditions for job-creating businesses. This will benefit workers, consumers, taxpayers, and the state governments – the latter gaining higher revenues from taxes on growing state economies. It truly is a win-win-win-win situation.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute
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“This law gives workers more freedom and should make labor unions more accountable to workers.

“Workers will no longer be forced to pay into a union just to earn a living. They won’t be forced to see their money used in ways they might oppose. Labor unions will have to earn the support of workers if they want to survive. It’s long past time labor unions had to respond to workers rather than workers respond to unions.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News
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“Unions, as a form of free associations, are a basic human right. In this country, unions were born in free association and were incorrectly attacked under the anti-trust laws. Unions initially rested on their ability to offer not only collective bargaining services to their members, but to provide unemployment insurance and other forms of fraternal relief before the advent of the welfare state, and to certify the quality of their members’ work and, so, enable their members to command a premium wage in the marketplace.

“Then something changed. Unions were transformed by the Wagner Act from free associations to extensions of the state’s coercive power. Even with the moderating influence of the Taft-Hartley Act, unions evolved into something different. Although there are some notable exceptions, unions have atrophied in the private sector and have grown in the government sector. Even in the private sector, unions hang on in some industries only because of the periodic intervention of the federal government.

“In the meantime, restrictions on labor-management cooperation and on the exercise of share ownership by workers stymies the emergence of a new model for workers, in which those who sign the back of the paycheck develop their common interests with those who sign the front. Restoring the basis of unions in free association should mean that unions – and not the government – assert themselves on behalf of their members in wages, benefits, and working conditions, earning their dues from their members, and enabling their workers to earn their premium compensation packages through their greater productivity.”

Clifford Thies
Eldon R. Lindsey Chair of Free Enterprise
Professor of Economics and Finance
Shenandoah University
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The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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