Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Announces Major Road Projects for Peoria Area During Transportation Conference PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:01

Illinois 8 and Illinois 29 Work to Create Jobs and Reduce Congestion

PEORIA – April 3, 2012. As part of his commitment to ensuring Illinois has a 21st century transportation system, Governor Pat Quinn today announced two major road projects in the Peoria area. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will complete the final phase of its widening of Illinois Route 8 in Washington this summer and begin finalizing plans for the replacement of the BNSF Railroad viaduct over Illinois Route 29 in Chillicothe. The two projects will create jobs, reduce congestion and improve the flow of goods and services throughout the greater Peoria area.

“In order to compete in the global economy, we must ensure that Illinois has a 21st century transportation system,” Governor Quinn said. “We are committed to modernizing our roads and bridges in the Peoria area, which will create jobs and support economic growth throughout Illinois.”

Governor Quinn announced the two projects, which are estimated to cost more than $12.4 million, while addressing the Innovation Conference on Asphalt & Transportation (ICAT), which provides opportunities to develop public-private partnerships, and address transportation industry challenges. Keynote speakers at the conference included Sam Pitroda, Infrastructure Minister and Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and business and government leaders from around the world. ICAT, hosted by Bradley University, also presented Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton with its Heartland Sustainability Award.

The improvements on Illinois Route 8 include reconstructing 1.2 miles of roadway and adding a second lane in each direction, with a middle turn lane and sidewalks, between Summit Drive and Legion Road. Construction will begin later this spring. The project, estimated to cost $10.2 million, is funded through Governor Quinn’s historic Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. The improvements represent the last segment of a long-term, $43.7 million expansion of nearly six miles of Illinois 8 from Rosedale Road in East Peoria to Legion Road in Washington, a stretch that accommodates almost 19,000 cars and trucks a day.

Governor Quinn is also pleased to announce that IDOT is committing $2.2 million to complete the engineering and design plans for replacing the BNSF viaduct over Illinois Route 29 in Chillicothe. The project will replace the two existing viaducts with a single structure carrying three mainline tracks, a yard track, a service road and a pedestrian walkway. Illinois 29 will be widened to two lanes in each direction, with a middle turn lane, sidewalks and a bike path, between Truitt Avenue and the Senachwine Creek Bridge. The engineering and design plans will cost about $2.2 million and require approximately three years to complete. Construction is estimated to cost $22 million.

“These improvements will add much-needed road and rail capacity in the Peoria area,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “I am eager to work with our local partners to see both projects completed as soon as possible.”

The six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital program in the state’s history. Since Governor Quinn helped pass  Illinois Jobs Now! in 2009, the program has created an estimated 1,500 jobs in the Peoria area.


Blackhawk Hills Names Melanie Flesch as Assistant Outreach Coordinator PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Daniel Payette   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:47
ROCK FALLS, IL – Blackhawks Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D)
announces that Melanie Flesch has been named Assistant Outreach Coordinator. Melanie will
be responsible for outreach support on the iFiber broadband project, as well as general marketing
including research, reporting, social media development, and design.

“We are excited to have Melanie start at Blackhawk Hills,” said Outreach Coordinator Daniel
Payette. “She has a keen sense of communications and brings much enthusiasm to the office.
Importantly, she will allow us to expand our outreach efforts on the broadband project, especially
in researching fiber optic-oriented opportunities for economic and business development.”

Melanie, a native of East Dubuque, IL, is a 2009 graduate of Clarke University’s Business
Administration program. With a concentration in marketing, she has specialized in working
with small businesses in the Dubuque area. Over the past two years, she provided consultation
services with her company, Truly Organized Marketing. Her past experience includes the
positions of Marketing Project Specialist for Heartland Financial and Sales and Marketing
Director for Dubuque Area Steamatic.

About Blackhawk Hills RC&D

Blackhawk Hills RC&D is a not-for-profit corporation based in Rock Falls, IL that serves
Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties in northwest Illinois.
Blackhawk Hills RC&D’s services include community planning, development assistance, natural
resources conservation and protection support, and grant writing and administration. Blackhawk
Hills RC&D is sponsored by local county boards and Soil and Water Conservation Districts and
is overseen by an 18-member council, consisting of three representatives from each of the six

Questions about Blackhawk Hills may be directed to Daniel Payette at (815) 625-3854 or
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


AARP to MidAmerican Energy: Quit Trying to Fool Iowans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ann Black   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:40

DES MOINES — AARP leaders are taking on MidAmerican Energy false portrayal of the Association’s position on nuclear power and attempts to shift away the focus from what HF 561 really does in their ads.  AARP doesn’t oppose nuclear power, but does oppose changing Iowa law to favor utility company and shareholder interests over Iowa’s ratepaying consumers.

“MidAmerican’s ironically titled ‘Straight Talk’ ads misrepresented AARP’s position on HF 561 and hid the truth about what HF 561 actually does”, said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy.  “The ads stated that AARP is an opponent of nuclear power.  That is an outright lie, just the beginning a new campaign by MidAmerican to fool Iowans into favoring HF 561.  Iowans deserve better than to be fooled.”

Carroll explained that AARP has consistently stated in testimony before House and Senate Commerce Committees, in AARP mail and e-mail correspondence with lawmakers, AARP members and Iowans, and in AARP editorials and paid ads, AARP is NOT opposed to nuclear power.

“The question of whether to build a new nuclear power plant is in MidAmerican’s hands,” said Carroll.  “It is critical to note, they can build a plant without HF 561.  The question for lawmakers is whether to shift nearly all the one-billion to several billions in costs and risks associated with new plants from the company to its customers.  That is what AARP opposes. That is what HF 561 does, according to the Iowa Utility Board staff memo. ”

AARP Iowa Executive Council Member Sharon Treinen of Ackley and a shareholder of MidAmerican’s parent company Berkshire Hathaway said, “I take no comfort in knowing HF 561 guarantees a profit for me as shareholder.  As a utility customer in Iowa, I oppose HF 561.  I’d rather not pay on the front end as a ratepayer, just so I can benefit as a shareholder.  I feel very fortunate that my husband and I were able to save so that we have some stock investments, but, I’m even more concerned about the many elderly and other Iowans on fixed incomes.

According to recent reports, Treinen said nearly a quarter million Iowa households, about 224,000, are behind on their utility bills and therefore face potential shut offs as of April 1, the day Iowa’s winter utility shut-off moratorium ends.

State President Tony Vola, also a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder, said HF 561 violates the common sense rule.  “I live by the common sense rule.  HF 561 shifts the billon-plus costs and profit-making aspects of building a new power plant from the company and shareholders to customers.  I choose to spend my money to be a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, but under HF 561, I and other Iowa utility customers would have no choice but to pay advance costs – which have always ballooned in other states – and a profit, for a long, expensive investment, even if this project goes bust.”

“AARP is fighting for a better deal for Iowa utility customers who bear the upfront costs and risk, and MidAmerican is fighting for their shareholders, for the great deal that HF 561 provides to them,” said Carroll. “We hope lawmakers side with customers, not with big business and company shareholders.”


About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Governor Quinn Encourages Attendance at First Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network Event PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:29

Berwyn Event to Connect Families Facing Foreclosure with
Resources to Help Keep Their Homes


CHICAGO – March 30, 2012. As part of his commitment to affordable housing and foreclosure prevention, Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged Illinois families facing foreclosure to attend the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network’s first “Keep Your Home, Illinois” workshop. Held Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Berwyn, the workshop will connect struggling homeowners with in-person assistance, resources and knowledge to help them keep their homes.


“Helping families stay in their homes is essential in keeping our communities strong and our economic recovery moving forward,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network is a one-stop-shop that connects families facing foreclosure with the most up-to-date information and free housing counseling to help them navigate their options.”


Announced in the Governor’s State of the State address, the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN) is a multi-agency effort coordinated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). The statewide program gathers all resources available to homeowners to ensure that families facing foreclosure can access the assistance they need in one stop. The IFPN provides access to counseling services, legal advice, mortgage payment assistance programs, foreclosure preven­tion events and tips on how to avoid mortgage fraud.


The Berwyn event is the first of six regional, IFPN “Keep Your Home, Illinois” foreclosure prevention workshops around the state. The IFPN’s resources are also available 24-hours a day online at, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the IFPN’s free hotline 1-855-KEEP-411 (1-855-533-7411).


Foreclosures adversely impact too many Illinois families and communities. Illinois is consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest number of foreclosures. In 2011, 103,003 homes in Illinois received a foreclosure filing, or one in every 51 homes – ranking the state eighth in the country, according to RealtyTrac.


The Chicago area has the nation’s largest inventory of foreclosed homes. According to RealtyTrac’s inventory records, as of December 2011, there were 96,996 properties that were bank-owned or in some stage of foreclosure in the Chicago metro area.


“You just don’t know until it hits you what a disaster your life can become when you can’t pay your bills,” local homeowner Regina Bailey, who was recently approved for temporary financial assistance through the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, said. “You go through program after program, but you never know about most of them unless someone tells you. Then all of a sudden you feel okay because you have hope. That’s what the Governor’s Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network has done for me.”


Working with a housing counselor doubles a homeowner’s chances of getting a loan modification and, once their loan is modified, foreclosure counseling reduces their chances of re-default by 67 percent.


“There are many benefits to working with an IFPN housing counselor,” said Mary Kenney, executive director of the IHDA. “Our counselors have access to numerous state and federal programs, and can direct homeowners toward the best program to suit their individual situations. The entire purpose of the network is to collect resources in one place, helping struggling homeowners save valuable time and resources as they work to keep their homes.”


“We are proud to be one of the 68 counseling agencies providing services under the network,” Ofelia Navarro, executive director of the Spanish Coalition for Housing, said. “Governor Quinn understands that homeowners have difficulty understanding and keeping up with which foreclosure prevention programs are available to them. Now more than ever, as the number of programs increase, homeowners need guidance to choose the best option for them.”


Under Governor Quinn, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) partnered to establish this free, one-stop collaboration of state agencies and nonprofit organizations to help Illinois residents access resources so that they can remain in their homes.


The Illinois Housing Development Authority ( is an independent, self-supporting bonding authority that finances the creation and preservation of affordable housing throughout Illinois. Since 1967, IHDA has allocated more than $10.6 billion to finance more than 215,000 affordable housing units for the residents of Illinois. IHDA sells bonds independently, based on its own good credit, to finance affordable housing in Illinois.



Iowa to receive first round of grants for new employment program for individuals with significant disabilities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Richard Martin   
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:02

Assistant Labor Secretary Kathy Martinez to host April 2 press teleconference on new employment program for individuals with significant disabilities


WASHINGTON ‒ Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, will host a media teleconference on April 2 to discuss the Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program, a Labor Department grants initiative designed to facilitate the full inclusion of people with significant disabilities in employment and community life.

Three states ‒ Iowa, Oregon and Tennessee ‒ will receive the first round of grants through the program to assist with planning, policy development and capacity building. “Employment First” aims to promote the development of state policies so that integrated employment is the first option of service for individuals with significant disabilities. Integrated employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings in which the majority of individuals employed do not have disabilities, those with disabilities earn at least the minimum wage and they are paid directly by the employer.

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