Business & Economy
Boost government contracts at Rock Island Arsenal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 04 June 2012 14:21

Lt. Governor to meet new General, lend support to federal workforce act

ROCK ISLAND – May 28, 2012. In advance of a visit to the Quad Cities on Wednesday, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said Congress is on the right track in efforts to increase the workload at and ensure the long-term health of the Rock Island Arsenal.

Simon, who chairs a state committee on retention and reuse of military bases, is backing bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk of Illinois and Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa. It would require the Army to create a strategic plan for awarding government contracts that would ensure arsenals receive the workload they need to keep workers’ skills sharp between military engagements.

“The Rock Island Arsenal is a valuable national security resource and an economic engine for Illinois,” Simon said. “Our federal government has a responsibility to protect this resource. Allowing the arsenal to compete for more government contracts could help contain production costs at the national level and keep people employed at the local level during peacetime and times of conflict.”

For more than a decade, the arsenal has produced critical weapons, parts and material for use on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, including armor for Humvees that were vulnerable to improvised explosive devices. With the military engagements winding down, lawmakers are seeking ways to maintain a vibrant workload at the arsenal through government and public contracts.

As introduced, the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 would make arsenals around the nation eligible for military contracts from all U.S. Department of Defense agencies, rather than just within the Army. This builds on federal legislation passed last year that allows for unlimited private-public partnerships at arsenals, which could translate to more domestic manufacturing work.

Simon serves as chair of the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), which was established in 2005 in response to U.S. Department of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) recommendations to close and realign military bases nationwide.

On Wednesday, Simon plans to meet with Major General Patricia McQuistion, the arsenal’s first female commanding general, and other support staff. McQuistion oversees operations on the island and leads a global organization responsible for providing front-line logistics support to combat units. During the visit, they will discuss the importance of the Strategic Workload Act and its value to the arsenal and surrounding community.


USDA Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Job Creation During National Small Business Week PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:55

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2012 — A top USDA Rural Development official this week met with local leaders and business owners in the Midwest to highlight rural small business accomplishments and observe "National Small Business Week".

"We know that to build a strong foundation for our country, we must continue to invest in rural communities and small businesses that create new economic opportunities for those who call rural America home," said John Padalino, Acting Administrator of USDA Rural Development's Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS). "We've seen continued growth in rural business development and the Obama Administration will continue working to strengthen local economies throughout the country."

Padalino met this week with business leaders in Iowa and South Dakota and highlighted ways RBS business and cooperative programs help improve rural economic conditions by providing guaranteed loans and development grants for projects that help create and save jobs.

Nationally, from 2009 through 2011, RBS provided 12,214 guaranteed loans, direct loans and grants that assisted more than 50,000 businesses and helped create or save more than 266,000 jobs.

For example, Morris Manufacturing and Sales Corporation, a family-owned automotive parts manufacturer, had to lay off 100 of its 135 employees when two major automakers closed down production and reorganized. With the assistance from USDA Rural Development, Morris Manufacturing located in Brazil, Ind. secured four B&I loan guarantees totaling $10.2 million, which it used to restructure debt and purchase new equipment. As a direct result of these loans, the company rehired its laid off workers, built a new production facility, expanded its product line, and hired over 60 new employees.

The Montana Wagyu Cattle Company is a family-owned and operated business that raises cattle and provides USDA Grade-A beef and specialty beef products to restaurants, stores, and consumers throughout the region. In 2009, the company used their $49,900 Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) to grow and expand their business by selling products over the internet.

Today, the company sells and ships custom-ordered cuts of beef (steaks, roasts, and specialty cuts) to consumers and businesses all over the United States.

In 2010, Ecotrust of Portland, Oregon, used their $249,340 Rural Business Opportunity Grant to market their FoodHub internet website – an online directory and marketplace that connects regional farmers, grocers, restaurants, and wholesales – to food producers and buyers. The FoodHub website helps agricultural producers tap into the growing local foods market by shortening the supply chain between producers, sellers, and consumers. The RBOG will also be used to provide training and assistance to businesses that want to sell through the website.

In June 2010, 550 companies used FoodHub. Today, almost 3,600 businesses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and California use FoodHub to market their products.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President is committed to using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers, and to improve the quality of life in rural areas.


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).


Memorial Day gas prices, still higher than they have to be PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Corrine Williams   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:50

Families are gearing up for Memorial Day vacations over the next few days, the good news for travelers is that oil prices are falling. Gasoline prices have dipped below $4 a gallon. Headlines across the nation are optimistic, but it’s not time to start celebrating yet. Gas prices are still higher than they have to be.

Heritage expert Nick Loris says that both Congress and the administration have failed to act constructively to remove obstacles that would allow the market to respond more effectively to high oil prices and there are a number of things they can still be doing.

McDonald joins MSA PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Leslie Blaize   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:48

DAVENPORT, IA: Robert McDonald, P.E., has recently joined MSA Professional Services, Davenport, as a senior project engineer. For the past 30 years, he has provided design services for municipal roadways and storm sewer systems.

Mr. McDonald earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

MSA is a full service consulting firm with 15 offices throughout the Upper Midwest. For more information, call 866.732.6321 or visit

Judiciary Committee Approves Bipartisan Bill to Help Small Businesses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:47

Legislation Would Make Bankruptcy Process Easier for Small Companies


Washington, DC – With small businesses across the country struggling in the wake of the recession, the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved bipartisan legislation by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would help small businesses facing bankruptcy.  The Small Business Reorganization Efficiency and Clarity Act would modify the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process to be more manageable for small businesses hoping to remain in business and preserve jobs.


“Chapter 11 was designed for large publicly-traded corporations and does not work for many small businesses,” said Whitehouse.  “Our bill is a first step in improving the process for small companies and would implement some important changes to make it more flexible.  Providing viable small companies with a better reorganization process will help businesses maintain jobs.”


“Judges, attorneys and businesses raised concerns.  This bill responds with good, common sense changes to help small businesses in bankruptcy.  It will also help us, the Congress, in determining whether future changes are needed,” Grassley said.  “The bill is a step in the right direction as we continue work going forward.”


The Small Business Reorganization Efficiency and Clarity Act would:


·         Give debtors and courts 45 additional days (total of 90) to confirm bankruptcy plans.  While the current 45-day deadline was intended to expedite small business cases, it has proven to be an insufficient amount of time for many debtors and courts;

·         Eliminate an ambiguous “catch all” reporting requirement that results in unnecessary filings and wasted attorney hours; and

·         Allow small business debtors to retain pre-filing counsel and other professionals even if such professionals have small claims against the estate.  It doesn’t make sense to disqualify a lawyer familiar with a company from representing it just because the lawyer has a small claim.


The legislation would also direct the Government Accountability Office and the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts to report information on small business cases and to make recommendations for further reforms.



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