Thursday, December 15, 2011

Walmart Provides $5,000 Grant to the GLCEDC

The Pontiac Walmart, through the Walmart Foundation, recently announced that the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council (GLCEDC) was the recipient of a $5,000 grant for their work in facilitating economic development opportunities for the communities and residents of the Livingston County area.

"We are excited to have local support for our efforts from Walmart.  Walmart understands that economic development is a team effort and that it takes financial support from all of the various industries and employers to be successful", said Larry Vaupel, CEO of the GLCEDC.

Steve Lawson, General Manager of the Pontiac Walmart stated, "We are pleased to be able to support local organizations like the GLCEDC that are making a positive impact on the local economy and in the lives of area residents."

The GLCEDC is funded by annual member investments from local businesses, the Livingston County Board, and area municipalities.  Their mission includes efforts to recruit and retain businesses, train and assist entrepreneurs starting new businesses, and facilitate economic development activity in the region.  More information about the GLCEDC can be found at their website:  To learn more about the Walmart Foundation, access their website at:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Workforce Board Offers Hiring & Training Assistance

The right job applicant is out there... we can shorten your search time. 
We are Livingston County’s Hiring and Training Resource.

We can help you with:

Employer job postings – We make sure the right people see your listings.

Recruitment assistance and hiring events – We customize the hiring process to meet your company’s specific needs. Services may include applicant referrals, collection of resumes, job fairs, screening of applicants, assessments and behavioral based interviewing.

Skill and aptitude testing – We offer a variety of pre-employment testing services to make sure your potential applicants have the skills needed for the job.

Labor market information – We help you stay informed of the local labor market with up-to- date wage rates and projected labor demand.

Training services – We have the resources and the referrals on training programs for your employees as well as potential funding sources.
The Grundy Livingston Kankakee Workforce Board is committed to maintaining a strong workforce in Livingston County. Most of our services are free to employers and can be customized to meet your specific set of needs.

For more information call:
Ann Rzasa
Business Services Coordinator
909 N. Liberty Street 
Morris, IL 60450 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is your Business Ready to Go Global?

The State of Illinois has a new program to financially assist Illinois businesses in exporting their products. The STEP Program will provide grants to businesses who attend one of ten Trade Missions sponsored by the State.  Additionally, if a Trade Mission does not align with your product, you may be eligible to receive a $1500 grant to create an individual trade mission designed specifically for your company.  The State will arrange meetings with potential trading partners and reimburse 75% of your hotel and airfare.  The State has $1.25 million allocated for this program.  Their goal is to double exports by 2014.

This is a rare opportunity and we hope that many of our businesses take advantage of the availability of these funds. Please contact the GLCEDC staff for more information regarding this program.  More information can also be found on the State's website:

Friday, October 21, 2011

2011 Business and Economic Development Survey

The GLCEDC believes that the best way to understand the local economy, the needs of local businesses and gain valuable insight into the growth opportunities of local businesses is by seeking direct input from business leaders.  To this end, the GLCEDC has partnered with the local Chambers of Commerce to develop a survey for businesses so that we can collect and analyze data relating to the business climate of the county.  This data will lay the foundation for our analysis as we track the local business climate over time. 

It is important that we receive responses from as many businesses as possible. We want to hear from businesses of all sizes and types.  To encourage participation, the GLCEDC is offering a dozen FREE DONUTS to businesses that complete the survey.  Businesses will also receive a personal presentation of the survey results by GLCEDC staff.  Non-members will also receive two free tickets to the GLCEDC Annual Meeting being held on January 18.

If you own or operate a business, please take 15 minutes to complete the survey.  It only contains 25 questions and will provide important information to the GLCEDC, local chambers of commerce and civic leaders as we work together to facilitate success for our local businesses. Take the following link to complete the survey online.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is there an App for that job? Check with Rural Development

By Colleen Callahan, Director of Illinois USDA Rural Development

When we’re looking for an answer to something these days, it’s common to “google it” or ask, “Is there an app for that?” 
It turns out there is an app for job creation. It’s the intended application of USDA Rural Development. As a lender, rural development’s commitment is to finance the future of rural communities. To that end, USDA Rural Development has been working to pursue some of the same strategies suggested recently in the proposed American Jobs Act. 
In Illinois, rural development has assisted rural communities to provide the infrastructure and support for innovative businesses that are the key to job creation and retention.  
USDA Rural Development assists with building basic infrastructure that supports economic development in rural communities, including electricity, water systems, broadband and housing.
We create and sustain rural job opportunities and support entrepreneurs from the micro-enterprise level to large-scale manufacturing, so those who live in rural communities don’t have to commute to metropolitan areas in order to support their families and pay their mortgages. 
In partnership with other public and private sector businesses, the loans we are providing to rural businesses have created or saved more than 5,600 jobs in Illinois. And we continue to improve the economic climate of rural areas by helping develop additional job opportunities for the underserved rural areas and populations.
Those of us in rural America know that in difficult times, we need to come together to work out a solution that benefits everyone, not just a few or just those in certain geographic areas.
It’s about balance.
What happens when our atmosphere gets out of balance? We have storms.
What happens when our systems get out of balance? We get sick.
And what happens when we don’t use a balanced approach to our governmental decision-making? We create our own demise.
Elected leaders in Washington need to acknowledge the consequence of one-sided initiatives as they work to support job growth and build a stronger future for all Americans. 
A wise man once said that nothing can ever be sliced so thinly as to not have two sides. His wisdom can be applied to how we find solutions to our current needs.
Consequently, there is an app for job creation. It’s called common sense.
And partnering with rural development, when rural communities and businesses want to create and sustain jobs, makes good sense.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reshoring Initiative Seminar

Reshoring, or Onshoring, is a movement by the manufacturing community to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US that have been "offshored" over the last 20 years.  There are many factors that have led to a shrinking of the competitive price gap that offshoring has historically had.  Higher transportation costs, the increasing wage levels in emerging economies, and technological advancement by US manufacturing are a few of the factors that are leading the way to a reshoring of US manufacturing jobs.  Below is information on a seminar regarding this topic that will take place in Park Ridge, IL on September 30th.

Bringing Manufacturing Back to America
Friday, September 30th
 7:30am - 11:30am
TMA Headquarters
 1177 S. Dee Road
Park Ridge, IL 60068
The Midwest Reshoring Initative helps level the playing field for American manufacturers competing against offshore suppliers.  The initiative is an industry-led program designed to bring orders and jobs back to America.
               Find out how to COMPETE WITH and BEAT offshore manufacturing
               Learn what OEM's really want from U.S. suppliers
               Meet local manufacturers who have benefited from Reshoring

Learn how local production and sourcing will:
               Improve your balance sheet
               Make product innovation more effective
               Reduce the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of purchased parts and tooling

The Midwest Reshoring Initiative has teamed up with TMA, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, and the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) to create a special half-day seminar for suppliers and manufacturers to learn more about how they can increase sales and bring jobs back home.
All participants will receive a FREE copy of the proprietary Total Cost of Ownership Estimator software, developed by Harry Moser, founder of the National Reshoring Initiative.
Cost: $49 for members of TMA/AME and IMEC clients, $69 for Suppliers, $99for Non-Suppliers and Consultants
For more information or to register, click HERE!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

LC Unemployment Rate is Below National and State Averages

Ladonna Russell from the Grundy Livingston Kankakee Workforce Board notes the following about Livingston County's current unemployment rate of 8.5%. This is below the National average of 9.1% and the State average of 9.5%.

"July 2011 County unemployment rates were release this afternoon. Livingston County UI rate for July is 8.5% or 1,628 individuals unemployed. This rate has remained steady with only a little variation. If you compare the rate to the same time as last year (July 2010), the rate has drastically dropped. The July 2010 rate was 10.5% or 2,067 individuals unemployed. This is good news."

Good news, indeed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Free Webinar this Friday

FRIDAY: Webinar Promotes Rural Small Business Development
White House Rural Council Members Delta Regional Authority & Appalachian Regional Commission Highlight Efforts to Promote Job and Economic Growth in Rural America

Webinar on Rural Small Business Development

Friday, August 26, 2011
2:00 PM - 2:45 PM EDT

  • John Fernandez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, U.S. Economic Development Administration
  • Chris Masingill, Federal Co-Chairman, Delta Regional Authority
  • Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chairman, Appalachian Regional Commission

On Friday, August 26, 2011, White House Rural Council members, Delta Regional Authority and Appalachian Regional Commission, will join U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez for a webinar to discuss strategic efforts to promote rural small business development. President Obama signed an Executive Order in June establishing the first White House Rural Council to ensure Federal resources are being coordinated across the government to strengthen rural communities and accelerate growth. Last week, the President announced a series of initiatives that leverage existing programs and funding to help small businesses and to meet other critical needs in rural communities.

The GLCEDC will host a viewing of this webinar. All are welcome to watch it at our new office located at 210 W. Water St. in Pontiac. Please email to RSVP.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Business a Little Slow Today? Offer an Instant Coupon!

Many businesses have now realized that email is an old and unreliable way of generating sales. In our world of instant communication and gratification, we need to reach our customers where they live - next to their cell phones. Here is a link to a service that offers you the ability to put coupons in your customers' pockets instantly via text messages. Check it out.

    Coupon Text delivers highly targeted text message marketing to small businesses. Our mobile marketing campaigns draw better results than other forms of advertising.
  • Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Don't Miss the Final Two Biz Ed Seminars

    Our "Back to (Business) School" Seminar series has two remaining. On Tuesday August 23 the topic will be "Fast Financials". The seminar will be led by Roger Corrigan of FREESTAR Bank and Mike Cohlman of Champion Fitness. They will share their insights on various financial matters related to small business including, business loans, financial reporting, Quickbooks, and the signs of a growing business.

    On Tuesday August 30, the topic will be related to protecting your work with patents. Norm Rittenhouse and Greg Benoit of EVT Global will share their insights as to how to protect your invention or product with a government patent. This can seem to be an enormous obstacle for small business owners, but Norm and Greg will offer some practical steps to make the process more manageable for small business owners.

    Both seminars will take place from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at the Farm Bureau Office in Pontiac. Please rsvp by sending a quick email to

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Sign Up for GLCEDC Golf Outing!

    Believe it or not, in six or seven weeks, the temperature outside will be in the high 70's, the leaves will have a hint of their fall colors, and the humidity level will have dropped considerably. When that day comes, you should be on the GOLF COURSE!! Please join us for our 2nd Annual Golf Outing on September 14 at the Pontiac Elks Club. Sponsorship and Registration materials are on our website.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Get "Back to Business" School with GLCEDC

    Get in the "back to school" spirit this August by participating in the Annual "Biz Ed" Series sponsored by the GLCEDC. Hosted every Tuesday in August at 4pm in the Farm Bureau offices (901 W. Howard Street, Pontiac), this seminar series covers all the business basics and more.

    This year's line-up includes:

    • Business Planning: Creating a Business Plan That Gets Financed (August 2nd)

    • HR 101: Small Business Basics (August 9th)

    • Building an Online Presence: Simple Website Development & Marketing (August 16th)

    • Fast Financials: Finance Tools to Grow Your Business (August 23rd)

    • Patent Pending: Protecting Your Work with a Patent (August 30th)

    Available at No Charge to Livingston County residents, the "Biz Ed" Series features key speakers from the local business community and engaging learning opportunities for entrepreneurs and current business owners. Join the GLCEDC and other sponsoring members like SCORE, Caterpillar Inc, Creative Ag Solutions, Champion Fitness and EVT Global for free educational seminars focusing on the fundamentals of building a better business.

    RSVP to attend by contacting Colleen O'Toole, Economic Development Specialist, at (815)842.2900 or email Look for updates on the "Biz Ed" Series and other educational opportunities by visiting our Facebook page!

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Collaborative Efforts Lead to County-wide Website

    A collaborative effort to market Livingston County communities as a destination for nearby residents has lead to the creation of a new county-wide website. The Discover Livingston County website was launched this week. For the initial launch the site offers a simple design with general content including: an area map, weather forecast, upcoming events, community profiles and tourism brochures. Moving forward, the GLCEDC will work with the Discover Livingston County Committee to expand the content of the website to include more details and links to other relevant online resources. Colleen O'Toole, GLCEDC Economic Development Specialist and Website Administrator, will instruct committee members on how to make updates, add special events, and create articles for the website.

    You can visit the site at:

    or by searching "Discover Livingston County" in Google.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Free Webinar on Starting a Business in Illinois

    ICNC Icon

    Interested in Creating a Business But Not Sure Where to Start?

    Join us for a FREE webinar on How to Establish a New Business: Licensing & Registration Basics.

    The Starting a Business Webinar series was well attended and highly rated. Based on a survey conducted during the webinar, Business Licensing and Registration was of most interest to participants. Registration is now open for the 2nd webinar with our industry expert Denise Ching, the Small Business Development Center Director at ICNC-Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago!

    The session will be one hour in length, with approximately 10 minutes allocated for questions/answers and discussion. Online Registration is required.

    Click here to get registered today!

    Missed the last webinar? No problem, watch the archived webinar on the Business Resources Page, on Illinois workNet. Click here to watch!

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    State of Illinois Export Seminar - FREE

    Businesses of All Sizes - Please Join Us for a Free Export Seminar

    Central Illinois Welcomes "Illinois Export Week"
    Thursday, June 23, 2011 * 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
    Springfield, Illinois

    Are you currently exporting or considering exporting? You may not realize it, but there are significant opportunities for Illinois companies of all sizes to expand internationally. This half-day export workshop features presentations by local companies sharing their export successes and tips. Also featured will be speakers representing local, state, and federal trade resources so you can learn how to access programs to help in your export growth.

    PLEASE CLICK HERE to register for this free event as part of the Governor’s Illinois Export Week!


    Welcome and Overview
    Mayor J. Michael Houston-City of Springfield
    Mary Roberts, Deputy Director, Illinois Office of Trade and Investment

    Exporting Opportunities and Challenges - Panel Discussion
    Illinois Office of Trade and Investment
    Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at Bradley University
    Illinois Department of Agriculture
    U.S. Department of Commerce, Commercial Service
    U.S. Small Business Administration

    Celebrating Export Success - Panel Discussion
    Lamboo Inc., Springfield
    Brandt Consolidated, Springfield
    Brianza Bella, Carlinville


    Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
    Quantum Growth Partnership
    1011 South Second Street, Springfield, IL 62704

    For more information:
    Contact: Becky Schlouch
    Phone: 217-785-2709

    For registration: PLEASE CLICK HERE

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    May 18 Executive Committee Meeting Summary

    At their May 18, 2011 meeting, the Executive Committee took the following actions:

    Loan Approved for Spuds, Inc.
    The Executive Committee approved a loan participation request from Spuds, Inc. of Dwight. The GLCEDC will participate along with at least three member banks - Bank of Pontiac, FREESTAR Bank, and State Bank of Graymont - in a $272,000 mortgage on the building owned by Spuds, Inc. The GLCEDC will use funds from their Revolving Loan Fund that was funded by a grant from the Livingston County Board. Spuds will use the loan proceeds to fund the hiring of staff, the purchase of machinery and the purchase of raw materials. Spuds, Inc. specializes in the design and production of children's tableware made from potato resin. The company plans to hire 45 employees in Dwight.

    GLCEDC Office Moving to Downtown Pontiac
    The Executive Committee approved a lease for a new headquarters for the GLCEDC at 210 W. Water Street in Pontiac. The new location will provide the GLCEDC better proximity to the County offices and a more visible location among the downtown Pontiac businesses. The GLCEDC will occupy the ground level of the western side of the building. Staff plans to begin the transition to the new office on June 1. The GLCEDC will continue to host seminars and board meetings at the Farm Bureau. The Executive Committee wishes to recognize the Farm Bureau for their support as a generous landlord for the past 2 1/2 years.

    2nd Annual Golf Outing is Set for September 14
    Please save the date. The 2nd Annual Golf Outing is scheduled for September 14. Please mark your calendars and look for additional information and sponsorship opportunities in the coming weeks.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Dwight Area Projects Moving Ahead

    Joe Celozzi poses with his Illinois Dealer plates. Celozzi and his partners plan to open a used car sales and service operation at the former Dempsey dealership at Rt. 17 and I 55. The GLCEDC, along with the Bank of Pontiac and FREESTAR Bank, is providing a line of credit to fund start-up and operating costs for the new business. Celozzi plans to offer 100 used cars at all price points and employ 26 full-time employees. Eventually, the group hopes to attract a new car dealership to Dwight.

    Consolidated Grain & Barge continues construction of their $17 million project on Rt. 17, two miles east of Dwight. The project will contain a 100-car rail siting terminal and be ready to accept grain this fall. The GLCEDC assisted CG&B in obtaining property tax abatements from the County and the Dwight School Districts. The abatements helped to offset the extraordinary infrastructure costs associated with bringing electricity to the site. CG&b plans to attract other industrial users to their 160 acre site in the near future.

    Site work has begun on the site of the new Love's Travel Center at the intersection of I-55 and Rt.47. The travel center and restaurant will open this fall. The project will create 45 jobs. The Village of Dwight attracted the business by offering a sales tax rebate that will be used to reimburse Love's for improving the intersection with turn lanes and a traffic signal.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    New GLCEDC Fan Page on Facebook

    The GLCEDC has created our very own Fan Page on Facebook. If you are a user of FB, you can "Like" us and we will be able to keep you up to date on our programs and initiatives via Facebook. You will also be able to network and connect with other local business leaders and stakeholders. This link will take you to the new page.

    Our "Group Page" will eventually be deleted, as a "Fan Page" better suits our needs.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    New Businesses and Member Investment Hi-light April Board Meeting

    Celozzi, LLC Loan

    The Board approved a $100,000 loan for Celozzi, LLC to open and operate a used car sales and service center at the site of the former Dempsey Chrysler Jeep Dodge Dealership in Dwight. The GLCEDC, Bank of Pontiac, and FREESTAR Bank are each participating in a $200,000 loan to fund the new dealership. Celozzi, LLC is finalizing the permitting and licensing requirements of the State of Illinois and plans to open for business this summer. They will offer over 100 used cars at various price points, including many late model Chrysler and Dodge automobiles. The dealership plans to hire 22 full-time employees. Funds for the loan program were provided as a grant to GLCEDC from the Livingston County Board.

    Membership Report

    The municipalities of Dwight, Cullom, Fairbury, Forrest, and Pontiac each increased their investment in the GLCEDC for 2011. Cullom and Forrest both tripled their investment level from 2010. Dwight, Fairbury and Pontiac each doubled their investment level. OSF St. James increased their investment from $15,000 to $25,000 for 2011. Other members increasing their investment level include Pontiac Township High School District #90, Dave's Market, Dwight Township, T&T Cartage, and LPL Financial/Tock Family in Dwight.

    New members so far in 2011 include R.R. Donnelley - Pontiac ($2500), Consolidate Grain and Barge ($1000), and Indian Grove Township ($694).

    2011-12 Work Plan

    The Board approved the Work Plan for 2011-12 and reorganized the committee structure in order to more effectively fulfill the objectives of the Work Plan. Three committees were formed and include the Membership Committee, Business Retention Committee, and the Entrepreneur Development Committee. Each committee will meet more regularly and be assigned specific tasks and goals based upon the Work Plan. Members will be asked to join a committee of their interest in an upcoming email. The Work Plan and committee structure will be hi-lighted in the upcoming Spring Issue of the EDvocate.

    EVT Global Incentive Agreement

    The GLCEDC Board reviewed the previously approved incentive agreement with EVT Global of Fairbury. The agreement stipulates that the GLCEDC will provide a low-interest mortgage in the amount of $500,000 to EVT Global so they can build a new 20,000 square foot building for their production facility. The agreement will provide the GLCEDC with over $400,000 of revenue to fund future business ventures. The initial $500,000 came to the GLCEDC from a grant from the Livingston County Board. EVT projects to hire 12 full-time employees.

    Annual Wind Conference and Trade Show

    The GLCEDC will be participating with the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Development Council at the annual Wind Conference and Trade Show in May. The GLCEDC will share a booth with other Illinois agencies and have an opportunity to market Livingston County to suppliers and manufacturers in the wind energy industry.

    The next meeting of the Board of Directors will be on July 20 at 5:00 p.m.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Tax Break for New Hires

    "Put Illinois to Work" Program continues through June 30, 2011.

    Has your small business (50 or fewer employees) created a new full time job between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011? If so, you still have time to receive a $2,500 per person tax credit. Please check out the attachment and link below to learn more about this tax credit, it is easy, fast and saves your business money.

    John Whalen -309-663-7528

    Tony Rolando -309-647-5896


    Tax Break for Illinois Small Business EXPANDED

    Eligible wage now $10/hr; Encourages hire of “Put Illinois to Work”-ers

    Businesses Hiring Put Illinois to Work-ers

    Any-size business that hires a participant in 2010 “Put Illinois to Work” program

    Eligible Jobs

    Position filled by 2010 “Put Illinois to Work” worker-trainee

    Created between 7/1/10 - 6/30/11

    Position pays no less than $10/hour or equivalent with minimum $18,200 annually.

    Position sustained for at least one year.

    Withholding tax goes to Illinois.

    Hourly or full-time, but not partners or independent contractors.

    Tax Credits

    Certificate at six months and one year

    Small Businesses

    Eligible if, as of June 30, 2010, you employed 50 or fewer full-time employees (counting all locations)

    Eligible Jobs

    Created between 7/1/10 - 6/30/11

    Position pays no less than $10/hour or equivalent with minimum $18,200 annually.

    Position sustained for at least one year (not necessarily held by the same individual for the year).

    Withholding tax goes to Illinois.

    Hourly or full-time, but not partners or independent contractors.

    Tax Credits

    Certificate after one year

    “Business owners can go online and register for their tax credits, provide

    substantiating data, and print out their credit certificates, without ever having to leave their office. This law gives employers a strong incentive to continue providing good jobs for workers who need it most. ”

    - Governor Pat Quinn



    Call (800) 252-2923

    Connecting with your Future Workforce

    Career Connects:

    Connecting with your future workforce
    DATE: Friday, April 29, 2011
    TIME: 8 - 9:30 a.m.
    LOCATION: Joliet Junior College, Building J, Room J-0006,
    1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet

    A concern for any business is attracting "top talent" for their company. Learn how you and your business can get involved with Career Connects Will & Grundy to impact our future workforce.
    Your business will:Career Connect Logo
    • Increase visibility in the community
    • Actively build and develop a future workforce
    • Highlight Will and Grundy counties as a great place to work
    • Establish your company as a leader in Will and Grundy Counties
    Attend the launch event for Career Connects Will & Grundy, a new online program which connects students and job seekers with local businesses.
    Registration is requested: Please RSVP to (815) 280-1501 or A continental breakfast will be served.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Free Business Counseling

    The GLCEDC has partnered with the Small Business Administration's SCORE program to offer free business planning and counseling to local entrepreneurs. Currently, our area is being served by the McLean County Office. A counselor works out of our office in Pontiac every 3rd Wednesday of the month from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Feel free to stop in or call 815-842-2900 to schedule an appointment. You can find more information about SCORE by visiting their website.

    Eventually, we would like to have our own SCORE program for Livingston County. If you have an interest in assisting local entrepreneurs succeed, please consider volunteering with SCORE. SCORE needs individuals to assist in all facets of business including accounting, human resources, planning, sales, and marketing. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this opportunity further.