Archive for the ‘workforce development’ Category

Jobs: Revised December Numbers

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Revised figure shows 18,700 more jobs in December 2016 than previously thought. The revised number, from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), indicates that Illinois’ private-sector economy may be in better shape than has been publicly reported. Preliminary figures previously reported by IDES showed a net loss of 16,700 jobs in December, but a revision to these numbers erased this job loss and indicates that Illinois actually gained 2,000 jobs in the same month.

The problems noted by analysts upon release of the initial December 2016 figures remain in place. In particular, the “Christmas sales season” in job-creating retail activity was affected once again this year by the migration of significant transaction volumes to the Internet.

Although the revised numbers show Illinois’ job market continuing to grow slowly, the Land of Lincoln continues to underperform most other U.S. states in terms of economic growth and activity. Illinois continues to have fewer jobs than it did at its peak unemployment level, reached in September 2000 prior to 9/11 and the collapse of the so-called “dot com” boom. Illinois added 1,700 jobs in January 2017, maintaining its unemployment rate of 5.7%.

Education: Advanced Placement Test Results

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

College Board reports Illinois ranks fourth in U.S. for increasing the percentage of students who take and pass AP exams. Advanced placement courses and exams, which are familiar to Illinois honors high school students, are courses that are meant to signal the ability of a student to master collegiate-level education in a variety of fields. Many colleges and universities will accept AP test results as a partial substitute for hours of course instruction. AP test results can make the difference, for some students, between graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in four years versus requiring five years or more to complete the required course work for a degree.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith announced Illinois’ AP numbers and national standing on Friday, Feb. 24. Almost 40 percent of Illinois’ 2016 high school graduating class took AP tests prior to graduation, with 64 percent of this subset passing their test. This success rate meant that an unprecedented one-quarter of the 2016 Illinois graduating class earned potential college credits from this pathway. This 25 percent number was a sharp increase from 14 percent for 10 years earlier. School districts throughout Illinois are encouraging their pupils to take AP courses and exams. Superintendent Smith’s announcement was based on new nationwide Class of 2016 information from the College Board, the consortium that operates and oversees the Advanced Placement system.

Park District Hosting Job Fair on March 11 with 150+ Positions Available

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Seeking to fill more than 150 part-time and seasonal positions, the Fox Valley Park District will host a community job fair on Saturday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Prisco Community Center (150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora).

As one of the area’s largest employers, the park district offers opportunities for teens and adults alike, with flexible work schedules and a wide range of jobs.

Interested candidates are encouraged to visit and get information about the positions and job requirements. Park District staff will be on hand to answer questions and perform introductory interviews.

Potential job applicants are advised to come prepared by printing out a job application form from the District’s website and bringing the completed form to the job fair. A camp counselor application form is also available for those applying for summer camp jobs.

“The Park District is reaching out so the community is aware of how many job opportunities we’ll have available this summer,” said Human Resources Manager Lynn Fenton. “This job fair will give potential applicants a complete picture of job descriptions; from there, they can easily apply to the area that suits their skills and interests.

“We are traditionally the first job for many local teens and also offer flexibility for adults who work on a part-time basis. Working at the Park District is fun and rewarding. Benefits also include reduced or free admission to some district programs and facilities.”

Job openings include:

  • Recreation & Community Center – Camps, child care, birthday parties, dance, theatre, gymnastics, athletics, tennis, playground site supervisors and more.
  • Parks Department – Gardener, trail ranger, grounds worker, athletic fields and general maintenance at water parks.
  • Blackberry Farm – Animal caretakers, ride operators, interpreters, guest services, camp counselors, ground maintenance and custodians.
  • Red Oak Nature Center – Naturalists, guest services and camp staff.
  • Aquatics – Life guards, guest services and maintenance.

Potential job applicants should visit the FVPD Job Fair webpage to read full job descriptions and acquire more detailed information.

NLEI Offers Construction Training Program

Monday, February 20th, 2017

State of the Village Address this Thursday

Monday, February 13th, 2017
February 13, 2017
In This Issue


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Above Board Indoor Environmental
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Copy King Office Solutions, Inc.
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Endiro Coffee
First Secure Community Bank – Aurora
Ice Miller LLP
Kluber Architects & Engineers
Konen Insurance Agency
Magnetrol International, Incorporated
Mitutoyo America Corporation
Mooney & Thomas P.C.
Old Second National Bank
Painters District Council 30
Paramount Arts Centre
Pilmer Real Estate
Pipe Fitters Local 597
Plum Landing Retirement Community
Presence Mercy Medical Center
R.C. Wegman Construction Company
Rasmussen College
Rich Harvest Farms
Rush-Copley Medical Center
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SmithAmundsen, LLC
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Two Brothers Roundhouse
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State of the Village: North Aurora Address
Thursday, Feb. 16, 11:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Oak Street Restaurant, 945 Oak Street, North Aurora


Join us for the Annual State of the Village address from President Dale Berman. Hear where the Village wants to go as a municipal government, as an organization, and as a community over the next several years. Meet with Village of North Aurora leadership and regional business owners. Find out what new and exciting opportunities are coming to North Aurora.

Thank you to our event sponsors: Northwestern Medicine, River Front Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, Signarama North Aurora, and Springs at Orchard Road.

Leadership Academy 2017 Applications Available
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Our community needs you! Realize your potential to make a difference in the Aurora region. The program begins Friday, March 3.

Class size is limited. Applications and tuition will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applicants must possess a sincere interest in serving the community.

Events for Members
State of the Village
Registration Now Open
Thursday, Feb. 16, 11:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Oak Street Restaurant, 945 Oak Street, North Aurora

WYNTK Using Digital to Grow Your Business
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 8 – 9:30 a.m.
7:30 a.m. Registration & Breakfast
495 N. Commons Drive, Aurora
Please pre-register

State of the City – Mayor’s Address
Wednesday, March 22, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Piper’s Banquets, 1295 Butterfield Road, Aurora

Save the Date: Chamber Golf Classic
Monday, July 10, 2017
Aurora Country Club, 1548 Prairie Street, Aurora

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General Assembly: Senate Package Update

General Assembly: House Bills Filed

Energy: Smart Meters

Human Services: Developmental Disabilities

Education: School Funding Reform Commission

Budget: FY17

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2017 Aurora Regional Economic Pulse Survey

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce released the results of the annual Regional Economic Pulse survey of businesses. Panelists Steven C. Meves, CFA, Old Second Bank; Kathy Gilmore, Valley Industrial Association; and Alex Pope, Rush-Copley Medical Center, joined Chamber CEO Joseph B. Henning, IOM, CAE, to discuss the results and highlight the implications for the region.

A cursory overview of the results show some positive feelings:

  • 90 percent of those responding expect to maintain or increase (50%) their workforce.
  • 64 percent of all respondents believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months. When large employers are asked, fewer than half (45%) believe it will improve; this is down from 69 percent of larger employers as surveyed last year.
  • When asked if the economy will improve over the next three years, 75 percent believe it will improve. Again, larger employers are less optimistic with 64 percent believing it will.
  • 73 percent of those responding believe their company’s sales/revenues will increase in the next year.
  • Only 27 percent of large employers plan to invest in plant or equipment capital over the next 12 months; last year, 71 percent of large employers planned to invest. This is lower than the overall response of 39 percent (which itself is down 10 percentage points from last year).
  • 70 percent of those responding state their business is better today than 12 months ago. Interestingly, larger employers are more positive with 90 percent stating an improvement.
  • 100 percent of large businesses – and 89 percent overall – were able to obtain financing for their business during the past six months.

Negative feelings were also brought to light in the results:

  • 37 percent believe economic uncertainty is the top obstacle in preventing new hiring – the great obstacle across the board no matter the size of employer.
  • Economic uncertainty is pervasive in other areas, as well. 52 percent of all responses feel it is the greatest obstacle facing business.
  • 37 percent of respondents rate the state government’s regulations on business negatively (either very or somewhat unreasonable).
  • Nearly nine in 10 respondents (87% overall) are either very concerned or somewhat concerned about regulations, restrictions, and taxes place on their business by Springfield.
  • The top three small business issues identified as priorities to be addressed in Springfield are the same across the board: State Budget (29%), Taxes and Fees (15%), and Regulations and Mandates (15%). Last year, Taxes and Fees was the top issue with 27 percent of respondents and State Budget was second. State Budget jumped 18 percentage points over last year.
  • Finally, when asked how confident they were about the direction our state is going, an overwhelming 71 percent were not confident. This is similar to a Gallup polls which have reported that only 25 percent of Illinois residents were confident in the State government.

The Aurora Chamber would like to thank Old Second Bank, Dolan & Murphy Real Estate, and Invest Aurora for their sponsorship of the survey and lunch program. The Chamber and its partners will use the results of the survey to identify and provide programs for the business community throughout the year. For questions or more information, contact the Aurora Chamber at (630) 256-3180.

Senate Budget Compromise

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Prior to the expiration of the 99th General Assembly, the Senate leaders had reported that they had reached a tentative bi-partisan agreement on a budget package framework. Although the package was filed in the last days of the 99th General Assembly, the 99th General Assembly adjourned Sine Die and the leaders promised that they would take the package up for consideration the first week of the 100th General Assembly. Immediately after convening the 100th General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 11, the framework package was introduced in 13 separately filed bills.

The Senate package includes a tax package (SB 9), minimum wage increase (SB 2), six new casinos and slots at race tracks (SB 7), a temporary two-year property tax freeze on the school portion of the tax bill (SB 13), workers’ compensation reform (SB 12) bonding to pay off $7 billion of the current $11 billion backlog (SB 4), pension reform (SB 11) procurement reform (SB 8), limited consolidation of local governments (SB 3), and a K-12 education funding reform (SB 1). Currently, the K-12 education funding reform has no details. Each bill is contingent on the other 12 passing before that bill can become law.

As promised, the bills were sent to the substantive committees to be considered. With the exception of the education funding reform bill and the minimum wage bill, broad discussions were held on the rest of the package and were sent to the Senate floor to be held for further discussions. Immediately prior to the meeting of the Senate Revenue Committee, an amendment was filed that drastically changed the scope of the tax package. The controversial sugar-sweetened beverage tax was removed. To replace this revenue within the tax package the creation of an excise tax of 5% on an array of services and a “Business Opportunity Tax” based on payroll range were included. The excise tax on services is modeled on the current structure in Wisconsin. As currently envisioned, the services to be included would be landscaping services, laundry and dry cleaning services, amusements, and repair and maintenance services. There would also be a 7% excise tax on cable television and direct broadcast satellite services. The implementation of the excise taxes rather than an expansion of the sales tax base to include these was in response to a constitutional case based on the Illinois’ constitution prior to the 1970s Constitutional Convention. The excise tax approach is unnecessarily complicated and the constitutional issue does not exist. The “Business Opportunity Tax” replaces the franchise tax and includes five different tax brackets which would require employers to pay between $225 and $15,000 in taxes on payroll for a taxable year.

Also included in the package is an increase in the corporate income tax rate from 4% to 7% and the personal income tax to 4.99%. Additionally, it eliminates the unitary business non-combination rule and decouples from the domestic production activities deduction. It also redefines the graphic arts production and the manufacturing machinery and equipment exemption. Finally, the package closes the loophole that allows private individuals/entities to bring lawsuits as realtors in instances where they believe a fraud of some kind has occurred. Income tax is exempt from the False Claims Act. Through an oversight, sales tax is not. As a result, Illinois businesses are facing inventive lawsuits from one particular contingency fee attorney who alleges the improper collection of sales tax on shipping/delivery charges even though the businesses are following the laws, regulations,and guidance of the state and the Illinois Department of Revenue.

It is important to understand that the package is a living document and is completely fluid as leaders, lawmakers and advocates continue to negotiate. In its current form, it is a Senate effort. The process will ultimately need to include the House and Governor Bruce Rauner.

Jobs: December 2016 Report

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Unemployment rate rises to 5.7% in December 2016. The final Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) jobless report for calendar year 2016 contained more bad news for the Illinois economy. The most widely-tracked measurement of Illinois joblessness, reflecting persons completely out of work and actively searching for employment, tracked upward from 5.6% in November 2016 to 5.7% in December. The increase in unemployment was paced by an overall shrinkage of 16,700 in Illinois nonfarm payroll jobs in the final month of 2016.

There are currently 6,002,600 nonfarm jobs in Illinois – almost one job for every two Illinoisans. Illinois continues to support more jobs than any other state in the U.S. Midwest. However, well more than 300,000 Illinois residents who would like to work are reporting that they cannot find employment of any kind. Furthermore, more than four-fifths of total Illinois jobs, and virtually all of the new jobs being created, are in the service sector. Only 782,500 nonfarm Illinois jobs – about 13% of the total – are made up of the production or extraction of tangible goods. Examples of production or extraction include the manufacturing of factory goods, the construction of real estate, and the mining of minerals.

Business leaders, such as the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s Greg Baise, are describing Illinois’ subpar atmosphere for the creation of manufacturing jobs when compared with other Midwestern states. He said nearby states have been surpassing Illinois with manufacturing plants and jobs over the last seven years. Wisconsin created 41,300 manufacturing jobs, while Ohio created 76,700, Indiana created 90,800, and Michigan created 163,700 jobs. In contrast, Illinois lost 1,600 manufacturing jobs.

State of the State Address

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Governor Rauner optimistic about the State of the State. In his third annual State of the State Address, Governor Bruce Rauner indicated that he is optimistic about the future of Illinois and used the opportunity to talk about Illinois’ accomplishments, as well as the work that still lies ahead.

The Governor recognizes the state’s challenges, but with great challenges comes great opportunity. He is optimistic these challenges can be solved by working together to improve the future of Illinois. He discussed the administration’s accomplishments including ethics reform, record education funding, job creation and making government more efficient. While much work lies ahead, we build on the bipartisan agreement that change to the system needs to occur with passing a truly balanced budget.

The Governor also encouraged the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing voters to weigh-in on fair maps and term limits. The Governor believes that by working together we can build on these changes and address the problems facing our state.

You can watch the video of the address or read the speech.


Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

State unveils new mobile app for career planning. The new “IL Reality Check” mobile app is meant to speed up the ability of younger Illinoisans to implement career-planning objectives. The result of a partnership between the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (IDIT), the new app is meant to create a user-friendly platform to disseminate realistic information about future job supplies and prospects in Illinois. A user can question the app about job prospects in relatively fruitful areas, versus employment fields that might seem attractive but are not likely to generate very many new jobs, and get anonymous objective feedback. The user can also submit more general information, such as desired job location, desired salary, and desired education level, and get career suggestions.

IL Reality Check will create a hands-on, step-by-step outline for how a questioner can leverage his or her current age and level of education into the credentials necessary to enjoy a prospective career through training or retraining.