Monday, December 14, 2009

Saunemin Fitness Center suitable for kids, adults

SAUNEMIN -- Saunemin finally has a suitable facility for kids and adults to exercise.

The Fitness Center, attached to the elementary school at 39 Main St, has a number of cardiovascular and weight machines and an open gym. It opened last week.

Students formerly had to walk across the street to a building that used to be part of a 1930s-era high school. Superintendent Julie Schmitt said the building had water problems and structural and mobility issues. "That building has served the district for a lot of years ... and the board has talked about the possibility of selling it," she said. "We will definitely entertain any serious offers, and to tear it down will cost quite a bit due to asbestos."

The village paid for part of the $1.42 million fitness center, with the remaining two-thirds paid by the school through general obligation bonds. No property tax rates were increased in order to pay for the center.

"It sure is a welcome addition for our village for the services that it provides to the village and to the school," said Mayor Bob Bradford.

Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends. Monthly fees are $20 and $25 for individual residents and families; and $25 and $30 for nonresident individuals and families.

(Source: The Pantagraph, by Tony Sapochetti, 12/13/09)

Friday, December 11, 2009

GLCEDC Grant Recipient: The Comity Buzz, Pontiac IL

GLCEDC assisted in funding the interior renovations pictured here at The Comity Buzz in downtown Pontiac through the Commercial Business Improvement Grant (CBIG). The renovations are well underway and the coffee shop should be opening soon. When open, The Comity Buzz will employ up to seven people, 2 full time managers and 5 part time employees. They will be serving a variety of drinks and baked goods.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Opportunities in Education

Several companies in Livingston County offer educational assistance programs. Basically these companies offer financial assistance in certain courses of study and in return the student commits to return to that company to work for a specified amount of time after completion of his or her degree.

In this area OSF St. James Hospital, Evenglow Continuing Life Community, and Doc's Drugs offer educational assistance programs. If you or someone you know is interested in getting a degree in the health industry, information about the company's educational assistance programs is available on their websites.

Also, Heartland Community College is now offering a program in radiology. If you are interested in that program please go to the HCC website for more information.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Academic Earth is a great website for viewing lectures given by professors at some of America's top universities. The website includes a wonderful section on Entrepreneurship. The following video is an example of a lecture available on this site. Please go to and view the "Subjects" tab for more lectures on a variety of different subjects that can be viewed for free.

Watch it on Academic Earth

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Myths Of Owning A Small Business

In 2007, Anand Sanwal was managing a $50 million innovation fund for American Express. His job: to identify and incubate new business ideas--and that meant doing gobs of market research, much of it on small, closely held companies. One problem: Public information on private companies was scarce, and the data that did exist wasn't in much of a structured, useful format.

Sanwal knew he wasn't the only one looking for that kind of information. So he and some partners launched Manhattan-based CB Information Systems to do just that. The company's Web-based software, marketed under the name ChubbyBrain (, trolls the Web for data on private companies--what they do, who is buying and selling them and for how much. "We are all engineers who went to business school, so we thought we had what was an elegant, logical and robust plan," says Sanwal, 35. "We were pretty happy with ourselves."

But no matter what the textbooks say, having a great idea and a solid business plan often aren't enough. To fund the software development, Sanwal was banking on income from a few consulting gigs inspired by a book he had written on corporate-resource allocation. Sanwal had gotten roughly $2 million in verbal agreements from CEOs or CFOs at three large financial-service companies. Then the stock market tanked and the deals were put on hold.

With no backup plan, Sanwal dipped into his savings and cobbled a bunch of smaller consulting engagements to keep his dream alive. Larger deals (the paying kind) followed. Now ChubbyBrain competes with Dow Jones and Thomson in tracking venture activity, and plans to roll out a line of new private-company data products in 2010. While stronger for the experience, Sanwal says the hard lesson still lingers: "A deal is not closed until the ink dries, no matter how many assurances you have from the other party."

For the 11 Myths, follow the link.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Wind Energy 101 for Landowners

The forum series "Wind Energy 101; From a Landowners Perspective" continues with workshops scheduled for the fall and winter: Dec 9. The workshops are designed to help landowners make informed decisions about wind energy developments and leases. Over the past year, the Illinois Wind Working Group (IWWG) and of, with assistance from other groups, have coordinated eight of the forums across the state.

The workshop will begin with onsite check-in at 1:00, the program will be from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. University educators and industry professionals will present a background overview of wind (economics, why wind, etc), timeline for a wind development, agricultural issues related to wind development, and lease and contract issues.

The December 9 forum will be held at the Livingston County Extension Office in Pontiac at 1412 South Locust Street. The early-registration deadline is December 4 for the discount registration fee of $20. Late registration and at the door will be $25 based on available space. Online registration for the Pontiac meeting can be found at the Livingston County Extension website Or contact the University Illinois Livingston County Extension office at 815-844-3622.

To read the full article, click here.

(Source: U of I extension - Livingston County)

Chicago Chefs Scramble to Buy Eggs from Saunemin Teen

Business is booming for Jeremy McWilliams of Saunemin… although it might be more appropriate to say that business is clucking and gobbling.

McWilliams, 18, is preparing for the busy Thanksgiving season as part of his business, Little Farm on the Prairie. He sells turkeys, meat chickens and chicken eggs locally and also sells eggs to three Chicago restaurants: Trat-toria No. 10, Old Town Social and Frontera Grill. The latter is owned and managed by award-winning chef-restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality Rick Bayless.

Before his parents, Larry and Lisa, moved the family to Saunemin, McWilliams lived in Ottawa, where he had a paper route. But “when we moved to the farm, I was looking for ideas to make a little bit of money,” he said. In 2002, when McWilliams was 11, he and his father came up with the idea of raising and selling turkeys to continue his income and teach life-lessons. That year, McWil-liams purchased 36 turkeys for his business; he now has about 300 turkeys and 1,600 egg-laying chickens and is building his flock of meat chickens to about 600 to 800.

McWilliams’ sales to the Chicago restaurants began when Marty Travis, a friend through the Stewards of the Land co-op, got McWil-liams on board to sell Thanksgiving turkeys to the employees of Rick Bayless’ Chicago restaurants. Around that time, McWil-liams had expanded his business to include the sale of chicken eggs, and Bayless asked if McWilliams could supply farm-fresh eggs for his Mexican restaurant, Frontera Grill.

Apparently, the eggs were a hit in Chicago, because McWilliams was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Frontera Foundation, Bay-less’ “nonprofit organization committed to promoting small, sustainable farms serving the Chicago area by providing them with capital development grants,” ac-cording to Bayless’ website. McWilliams used the grant to purchase an egg preparation machine. The machine washes and candles 250 dozen eggs per hour. Candling is used to check the quality of the egg and look for any cracks.

To read the rest of the article click here.

(Source: The Paper 11/4/2009)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Livingston County, IL Law and Justice Center

View the Video Below for more information on the Law and Justice Center in Livingston County.

GLCEDC Awards Grants

The GLCEDC Executive Committee is pleased to announce the awarding of the Commerical Building Improvement Grant (CBIG) to The Comity Buzz, LLC in Pontiac and the Community Development Infrastructure Grant (CDIG) to the Village of Cullom to be dispersed to the Cullom Community Market.

The Comity Buzz, LLC will use their grant money for interior improvements to their coffee shop and the Cullom Community Market will put their funds towards the purchase of their building. The GLCEDC Executive Committee believes that providing matching funds to improve building infrastructure and complete community development projects will enhance the economic environment and attractiveness of Livingston County.

For more information on GLCEDC Grants, click here.

The Comity Buzz pictures coming soon.

Cullom Community Market Under Construction

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

P.R.O.U.D. reaches semis in national contest

Pontiac’s P.R.O.U.D. organization is semifinalist in the 2010 Great American Main Street Awards.

“All of the Mainstreets across the United States have the opportunity to submit their programs for consideration,” said Lori Fairfield, executive director of P.R.O.U.D. “We submitted an entry and have just been notified that we are one of the 10 semifinalists from throughout the U.S.”

Fairfield said the winner would be announced on May 4, during the National Main Streets Conference in Oklahoma City.

The letter received indicated what the 10 communities have done.

The letter states “The ten Main Street communities have been selected from a nationwide pool of applicants and now move to the final round for consideration. These semifinalist communities have created more than 1,100 new businesses and nearly 4,800 new jobs, rehabbed more than 950 buildings and decreased their vacancy rates by an average of 31 percent. They have also generated an average of $24,104,868.70 in public investment and $43, 494, 647.40 in private investment.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

(Source: The Daily Leader 11/18/09)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Identifying Avenues to Build Community Strength

There are many promising strategies to create a better future for rural communities and genuine opportunity for rural people. Members of each community must identify approaches that fit them and then provide the grassroots leadership to make them happen. We identify 6 activities to help.

Support Grassroots Entrepreneurship – Locally-owned small business is the source of most new rural employment. Communities can sponsor training, lending and technical assistance for small business by bringing in programs such as the Center for Rural Affairs’ REAP in Nebraska and similar programs in other states. Communities can provide affordable startup space, form local investors clubs to finance startups and patronize local business.

Rural Sourcing – The internet has enabled many business services to be provided from overseas. But we have only begun to tap the opportunity to “rural-source” such services. There is potential for a new generation of small businesses providing service online from rural communities – ranging from architecture and accounting to serving the growing renewable energy field.

High-Value Sustainable Agriculture – There is no one model for 21st century agriculture. Each of our communities will have farms growing for commodity markets. And communities can also benefit from high-value markets for everything from organic crops to humane natural livestock, if they are proactive. Communities can provide educational opportunities for farmers and lenders on the market options, encourage retiring farmers to work with beginners, and support the risk takers who try new approaches.

Rural Tourism – Many Americans are hearkening back to their roots. That creates new opportunities in ecotourism (bird watching), agri-tourism (guest ranches), and heritage tourism – for communities that preserve and promote their historic features. Farm communities won’t become tourist communities. But these approaches can add a successful small business or two and make communities more interesting to potential new families.

Attractive Communities – Communities that draw people survive. Certain amenities are fundamental – good schools, health care, recreation for kids, etc. But communities can gain an extra edge by providing affordable amenities that matter to young families as well as retiring baby boomers like hiking trails that provide access to nature and recreational facilities such as racket ball courts.

Two Critical Overarching Elements – To take advantage of these opportunities, communities will need to be deliberate about engaging their members and developing a stable of local leaders. A few people cannot do the job alone.

Communities can build their capacity by inviting potential new leaders to step forward and offering training in leadership skills. Personally inviting all elements of the community to get involved in community planning sessions can create the engagement and support to move development forward. Communities that push themselves to be open to new ideas and learn to deal with differences of opinion constructively as a helpful source of diverse ideas and perspectives will be most successful. Leadership training can help develop those skills.

Youth must be a key part of the process. If we want young people to someday build lives in rural America, we need to engage them in making our communities attractive to them. That also gives our young people a chance to get invested in our communities.

(source: Center for Rural Affairs 11/09)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grants aim to spur Livingston Co. economic development

PONTIAC -- A county economic development organization has developed two programs to help prospective businesses and municipalities make improvements.

One grant is for property owners to refurbish existing space to encourage new businesses to move in. The other grant would help municipalities with general infrastructure improvements and property acquisitions.

The second grant requires the municipality to pay half the cost.

'These types of grants came out of discussions with local businesses, the county board and others who said that it basically came down to planting the seeds for economic development,' said Larry Vaupel, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.

So far, the council has given $2,800 to a coffee shop in Pontiac and $13,500 to Cullom for a grocery store.* Vaupel said the council will use $200,000 for grants and another $300,000 for a revolving loan fund.

The $500,000 came from the Livingston County Board, which received $1 million from Iberdrola Renewables to put a wind farm into the county enterprise zone.

The Spanish developer is building a 150-turbine project. In an enterprise zone, developers can abate some taxes.

County Board Chairman Bill Fairfield said there are no immediate plans for the remaining $500,000.

(Source: The Pantagraph 11/5/09)

* Please note that the GLCEDC Executive Committee has not yet approved any grant applications, but has approved the grant programs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Small Business Planning Tool from IRS

Retirement Plan Navigator

The Internal Review Service has created a new web-based tool, the "Retirement Plan Navigator," to help small business owners. You can find it at

The navigator guides small business owners in three areas: choosing a plan, maintaining a plan, and correcting a plan. The navigator includes a side-by-side comparison of pension plans and their requirements to help small business owners choose the one that best fits their situation. The navigator also provides a checklist and suggested resources to help employers keep their retirement plans in compliance with the law.

The IRS will update the navigator as pension laws and regulations change.

(Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GLCEDC Grants Available

On October 26, the Executive Committee of the GLCEDC approved two matching grant programs to be funded by the Livingston County Board's grant of $500,000. The Commercial Building Improvement Grant (CBIG) is designed to entice property owners to make improvements to existing structures that will remove obstacles for new businesses seeking to locate in the structure. Our goal is to improve the commercial building stock in the County so that new businesses can more easily be recruited to the area. We want to be able to offer new businesses numerous buildings that are in "move-in" condition.

The Community Development Infrastructure Grant (CDIG) is a matching grant given directly to municipalities for economic development purposes. Municipalities apply directly for the grant and the funds can be used for infrastructure improvements, property acquisition, and other projects related to economic development. The grants can not be used for tax exempt purposes or for public services.

Please follow the link to the GLCEDC website for more information and applications:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Rural Brain Drain

By Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas
(Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education)

What is going on in small-town America? The nation's mythology of small towns comes to us straight from the The Music Man's set designers. Many Americans think about flyover country or Red America only during the culture war's skirmishes or campaign season. Most of the time, the rural crisis takes a back seat to more visible big-city troubles. So while there is a veritable academic industry devoted to chronicling urban decline, small towns' struggles are off the grid.

And yet, upon close inspection, the rural and urban downturns have much in common, even though conventional wisdom casts the small town as embodiment of all that is right with America and the inner city as all that is wrong with it.

The Harvard University sociologist William Julius Wilson famously describes how deindustrialization, joblessness, middle-class flight, depopulation, and global market shifts gave rise to the urban hyper-ghettos of the 1970s, and the same forces are now afflicting the nation's countryside. The differences are just in the details. In urban centers, young men with NBA jerseys sling dime bags from vacant buildings, while in small towns, drug dealers wearing Nascar T-shirts, living in trailer parks, sell and use meth. Young girls in the countryside who become mothers before finishing high school share stories of lost adolescence and despair that differ little from the ones their urban sisters might tell.

In both settings, there is no shortage of guns, although in North Philadelphia's Badlands or Chicago's South Side those guns might be concealed and illegal, while in small towns guns hang on display in polished oak cabinets in the sitting room. Residents of rural America are more likely to be poor and uninsured than their counterparts in metropolitan areas, typically earning 80 percent what suburban and urban workers do.

The most dramatic evidence of the rural meltdown has been the hollowing out—that is, losing the most talented young people at precisely the same time that changes in farming and industry have transformed the landscape for those who stay. This so-called rural "brain drain" isn't a new phenomenon, but by the 21st century the shortage of young people has reached a tipping point, and its consequences are more severe now than ever before. Simply put, many small towns are mere years away from extinction, while others limp along in a weakened and disabled state.

In just over two decades, more than 700 rural counties, from the Plains to the Texas Panhandle through to Appalachia, lost 10 percent or more of their population. Nationally, there are more deaths than births in one of two rural counties. Though the hollowing-out process feeds off the recession, the problem predates, and indeed, presaged many of the nation's current economic woes. But despite the seriousness of the hollowing-out process, we believe that, with a plan and a vision, many small towns can play a key role in the nation's recovery.

To read more of this article, click here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Small Business Advice from Investors

Bob Jacoby is a business startup investor in Texas. He offers some advice to entrepreneurs:

Make your idea work on the small scale first, then you can grow from there.

(Source: Small Biz Survival 10/23/09)

City makes room for new law and justice center

PONTIAC -- Bob Tinges had mixed emotions as he watched the demolition of the building where he had worked for 47 years. "I spent a lot of time there, but it's an old building and has outlived its usefulness," he said. "We were landlocked there and really couldn't expand at all. The new location is great and we love it."

The building has stood at 112 E. Washington St. since 1901 and housed a funeral home, a plumbing business and Tinges' granite company. Now, it and several other buildings southeast of the Livingston County Courthouse are being torn down to make space for the new law and justice center. McCoy Construction Co. started the $170,000 demolition project Oct. 16 and should end by early next month.

The new 50,000-square foot facility will house court-related offices and will cost $17 million to $19 million. Completion is expected by fall 2011, and offices will move in during January 2012.

To read the rest of the article click here.

(source: The Pantagraph 10/23/09)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Website Tools

Increasingly the best and easiest way to get information about your business or organization to Livingston County residents is through the internet. I recently ran across a very helpful website that gives information and advice for economic development websites, but I think the information can be useful for businesses and organizations in Livingston County as well. Here are some of the main points:

1. Content Architecture
Whoever is in charge of website content needs to start out with a content plan. The contents of the website should be organized into logical and practical sections. It is important to organize information that will best serve your customers and community members. A disorganized website with broken links is one good way to scare off visitors to your website.

2. Searches
More than half of all internet users use search engines (google, yahoo, etc.) to find information on the internet. There are a few things you can do to make sure that your business or organization is first on the search lists. Most searches consist of one or two words, so it is important to anticipate what words your visitors will use to search for your website. Make sure that you use those words often throughout your website. For example, if you are an insurance company, you need to have a high density of the word "insurance" throughout your website. If you think visitors will search by location and you are located in Flanagan, for example, you should have the word "Flanagan" or "Flanagan, IL" in various places throughout your website. Another factor can be the number of links between your website and other relevant websites. To illustrate, main street organizations in the county will have a higher search engine ranking if they are linked with other main street organizations in the area.

3. Make it easy and quick
The average time that someone spends on the GLCEDC website is 2 minutes and 53 seconds. We have that much time to get visitors the information we want them to have. The easiest way to direct visitors to important information is through navigation menus. Menus should be visible and uncluttered. Fold-out menus that allow customers to scan through page options is a good, time saving idea. Menu titles should be short, clear, and describe exactly what information the visitor will find by clicking on it.

Lastly, remember to update your content frequently. New, interesting content will keep you on the minds of customers and community members. You can make simple changes like updating pictures or news articles once a week to keep your website looking fresh and up to date.

For more information about building and maintaining a dynamic website follow this link.

Monday, October 12, 2009

$1.7 Billion in Loan Assistance to Help Rural Businesses

Loans Provided through Recovery Act Funds will Help Strengthen Rural Communities Throughout America

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is now accepting applications for up to $1.7 billion to fund projects that help spur business activity and economic growth in rural communities. This infusion of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into rural business is designed to create and save jobs and help rural communities grow and prosper.
"The Recovery Act funds announced today will help businesses get access to the capital they need to launch and expand their businesses and help bring additional jobs to America's small cities and towns," said Vilsack. "President Obama and I are committed to building strong rural communities by helping businesses grow so we can put people back to work."

The funding announced today will be made available through USDA Rural Development's Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan program, which supports the development of private businesses. Eligible applicants include cooperative organizations, corporations, partnerships, nonprofit groups; federally recognized Indian tribes, public bodies and individuals. The funds will be targeted to creating and retaining quality jobs and serving difficult to reach populations, and areas hardest hit by the current economic downturn.

USDA will accept applications for this Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan program until Sept. 15, 2010, or until all funds are expended. Recovery Act funding will be available through Sept. 30, 2010. For information on eligibility criteria and for application assistance, please contact your state Rural Development office, or visit for a listing of all state offices.

For past examples of USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans please click here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ameren Targets Small Businesses with Online Store

Ameren Illinois Utilities is targeting small businesses by offering them high-efficiency bulbs for as little as $1 each through its new Small Business Online Store.

Beginning Thursday, Ameren Illinois Utilities said it would provide free shipping for a limited time on all Small Business Online Store orders.

The store also offers dimmable flood lights, energy-efficient exit signs and smart power strips.

Businesses will qualify for discounts if they use no more than 150 kilowatts of electricity.

(source: St. Louis Business Journal)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google Local Business Center

The following is a video describing the Google Local Business Center. Adding information about your business is very easy to set up and can be updated at any time. Google will also help you track information about searches for you business. Watch the video below for more information.

Visit the Google Local Business Center to sign your business up.

101 Small Business Mistakes

The American Express Small Business Forum recently published an article on mistakes that entrepreneurs make in all phases of setting up and operating small businesses.

101 Small Business Mistakes (and What You Can Learn From Them)
Gregory Go (Wise Bread)

Oct 05, 2009 -
(This article was written in collaboration with Glen Stansberry)

Let's be honest: running a small business is not an easy task. Especially in an economic downturn. Small business owners are keenly aware that mistakes can be very costly at this point in time.

Yet in order to have success, at least a few mistakes have to be made along the way. It's a part of building and growing. Oscar Wilde once said 'experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.' And even the most successful business owners have had their fair share of blunders.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes that prominent business owners have made in their lifetime, and what they learned from them. (Read More)

15 sources for great business advice

This article through Delware online lists 15 sources for business advice.

Don't go it alone: 15 sources for great business advice
By RHONDA ABRAMS • Gannett • October 5, 2009

You can find a great deal of help -- much of it free -- whether you're transitioning to self-employment, facing new challenges in your existing business or hoping to start a company.

Through the years, I've noticed one big difference between successful entrepreneurs and those who fail: Successful people seek out good advice and listen to it.

Businesspeople who think they know it all are the ones who have the most difficulty navigating change.

It's important to get help. Here are some outstanding sources: (Read More)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Small Business Innovation Research

Small Business Innovation Research is a federal program created to support research and design projects for small businesses nationwide. The largest Federal agencies must set aside a percentage (currently 2.5%) of their R and D budget for SBIR projects. In 2008 this represented over $2 billion of available funding.

These projects are reserved for our domestic for-profit small businesses that are independently owned and operated by individuals (not large entities). The agencies pose problems, usually tough ones that they need solved to help fulfill their missions. The small businesses are invited to submit proposals for solving them, describing how they’re going to do the work and spend the money (up to $850K in two phases – feasibility and prototype development).

The proposals are evaluated and the best ones are funded, based solely on the merits of the planned project, the qualifications of the team, and the potential for turning the technology developed into a business with potential customers being from both the government and the private sector.

Visit the SBIR website for more information:

(Source: Small Biz Survival Blog 9/28/09)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Training Opportunities for October and November

The Chicago Farmers: Landowner's Forum - Wind Energy 101 October 7
This program will feature university educators and industry professionals presenting on how wind energy developments affect landowners, what landowners should expect, and best practices for landowners to follow when working with developers. Cost to attend: $25 Early Bird Registration by October 1, 2009. $30 as of October 2, 2009. Click here for more information.

"Solutions for Small Business" Webcasts October 7 and November 17
Mediacom Communications is collaborating with BLOOMBERG TELEVISION® to deliver expertise to small business executives through free, video Webcasts in a new series, Solutions for Small Business. The Webcasts offer direct access to leading experts who will provide advice on topics critical to helping small businesses thrive, such as maximizing marketing dollars and accessing capital markets. Register at

Economic Development 101 - October 24
The Economic Development 101 course hosted by the Economic Development Council of the Bloomington-Normal Area will be held Saturday, October 24. This course is FREE for elected officials and $35 for all others.

Find out more information at

Heartland Community College: Green Institute Programs

The Green Institute, established in 2008 at HCC, supports a wide range of campus initiatives, educational programs and community activities related to sustainability, energy conservation, renewable energy, recycling, retro-commissioning and other environmental technologies.

The Green Institute offers professional training, general workshops, and degree certification programs on a variety of different topics, including; green building, wind systems, and solar energy. The Green Institute offers the following degree programs:

Electronic Systems Technology Degree with an option in Building Automation
The building automation option will prepare technicians to work in a variety of industrial and business settings where they would be responsible for the installation, maintenance and programming for automated systems used through facilities.

Renewable Energy Degree
The RE degree will prepare technicians to work in the renewable energy industry and related fields. The program will provide a broad background of technical skills in addition to specific competencies in new technologies such as wind energy and photovoltaic systems.

Construction Management Degree with Green Building emphasis
The construction management program will prepare students to work in the construction related businesses and services with a emphasis in green building technology and energy efficient systems.

Visit The Green Institute's website for more information:

USDA launches "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative

The USDA has launched a new initiative to connect farmers with consumers. The intention of this initiative is to, "...create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with local producers. It is also the start of a national conversation about the importance of understanding where your food comes from and how it gets to your plate."

The "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" website: ( provides more information on the initiative's activities and an extensive database on grant and loan programs sponsored by the USDA. This is a good resource for both consumers and farmers.

Joliet Jr. College: Business for Success Seminars

JJC has listed the fall schedule for their Business for Success Seminars. The fee is $60 and workshops include; business planning, marketing strategies, recordkeeping, using local resources, and information on small business taxes.

For more information follow this link:

New Cullom Grocery Store Expected to Open November 1

CULLOM -- Cullom residents have gone without a grocery store for more than a year, but a place where they can buy fresh fruit, vegetables and meat should be open by this fall. "This means that people will once again be able to get what they need right here in town without traveling," said Village President Margeurite Kross.

Carl Krause III, chairman of the board of Cullom Community Market Inc., said that the corporation recently purchased a store at 112 W. Hack St. for $27,000. The corporation is funded through shares sold to the community at $100 each. Krause said that they are currently in the process of refurbishing the site and it should be open by Nov. 1.

Officials are also working with distributors to stock the shelves. The store will primarily carry food, but other items such as dog food, toiletries and greeting cards will also be available.For 25 years, the building was home to Ommen Family Foods, operated by Bill and Joyce Ommen. The Ommens then retired a few years ago, and the store went through different owners but it was not successful.

The village of fewer than 700 people currently has a Casey's General Store, but they have to drive to different communities in order to purchase fresh food and other grocery items. After looking into various options, a group of residents decided that they would turn the grocery store into an investment opportunity. Krause said that they have received about $50,000 in investments, with a total of $110,000 pledged. "In a perfect world and in a perfect business model, there will be dividends like any other business," Krause said.

Although no exact projections have been established, Krause said that ideally, people would see a profit within the first year of operation. However, Krause said that village residents are not necessarily worried about making money from their investment. "Most of the people that I've talked to are not expecting a return," he said. "They just want to see the store open again."

(Source: The Pantagraph 9/8/09)

Livingston County Board Invest $500,000 in Local Economic Development

The Livingston County Board voted unanimously to provide a grant in the amount of $500,000 to the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council (GLCEDC) in an effort to spur economic growth in the county.The funds will be use entirely for economic development programs. Bill Fairfield, County Board Chairman, said, “his is a way we can take some of the proceeds fromthe wind farms and give it back to the communities of Livingston County.”

The GLCEDC will administer several programs that will be funded with the grant. Larry Vaupel, CEO of the GLCEDC, stated that the programs may include lowinterest loans, building improvement grants, and grants for community infrastructure and development. “he programs will focus on making Livingston County more attractive to commercial and industrial development. We want to entice business growth and expansion by assisting new and existing businesses to invest in the area.”

Mike Stoecklin, Chairman of the GLCEDC, stated, “e find ourselves in challenging times and we believe having these programs in place will create an enticing environment for companies to bring jobs to Livingston County.”Businesses, municipalities, and commercial property owners interested in learning more about the economic development programs should contact the GLCEDC at 815‐842‐2900 or visit their website

For more information please contact Larry Vaupel, CEO of the GLCEDC at815‐842‐2900.