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.