Archive for December, 2017

EEI Welcomes New Project Manager to Environmental Group

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. announces the addition of Keith E. Powell, P.E., to our Environmental Group as a Project Manager.  Powell brings over 16 years of engineering experience consulting for wastewater conveyance and treatment, as well as drinking water supply, treatment, and distribution projects.  His knowledge and experience in municipal infrastructure, water resources and environmental engineering provide a strong base for project management at all levels.

Powell earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Prairie View A & M University, Prairie View, Texas and is a registered Professional Engineer in Illinois and Texas.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc., founded in 1974, is an award winning consulting engineering firm which provides planning, design and construction services for water, wastewater, transportation, stormwater and GIS to municipalities, counties and state agencies throughout northern Illinois.  For additional information, visit www.eeiweb.com.

Job Fair for RiverEdge Park Set for Jan. 5

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

RiverEdge Park Job Fair

RiverEdge Park will be hosting a job fair to fill open positions for the Summer 2018 Season. This job fair is free and open to the public. Bringing a resume is encouraged but not mandatory. 15-minute interviews will be conducted on-site at the job fair. Applicants have the option to interview at the job fair (based on availability) or wait to be interviewed at a later date. Please fill out the form below to apply online now and be contacted for an interview.

  • Date: Friday, January 5, 2018
  • Time: 5-8 p.m.
  • Location: Meyer Ballroom, in the North Island Center directly across the street from the Paramount Theatre, 8 E Galena Blvd, Aurora IL 60506

AVAILABLE POSITIONS

Please click for the job description on each position. Each position is part-time, seasonal and requires weekend availability.

APPLY ONLINE NOW

Whether you’re attending the job fair or not, feel free to apply online now. If you apply online and are attending the job fair, it’ll save you time filling out the application on-site and give you more time to talk with the staff about the open positions and even interview for them (based on availability). If you’re unable to attend the job fair but are still interested in applying, please fill out the form, and you’ll be contacted for an interview. Form may be found at https://riveredgeaurora.com/job-fair/

Your Weekly News from #AuroraChamber

Monday, December 11th, 2017
Header
December 11, 2017
In This Issue

 

Quick Links

Follow Us!
Facebook Twitter Blog

Elite Members

For more information contact the chamber.

+Intention
95.9 The River
Aaron’s
Above Board Indoor Environmental
Accurate Personnel
Advance Auto Parts
Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.
Aurora Bank & Trust
Aurora Limousine
Aurora University
Baird & Warner – Holli Thurston
Beans Greens Proteins
Caterpillar, Inc.
Chicago Steel Hockey Team
City Segment
ComEd
Company 251
Copy King Office Solutions, Inc.
CyrusOne
Do or Dye Designs
Dolan & Murphy
Downtown Auroran Magazine
Eagle Digital Marketing
Endiro Coffee
First Secure Community Bank
Gateway Mortgage Group
Jiffy Lube Multi-Care
Kluber Architects + Engineers
Konen Insurance Agency, Inc.
Magick Woods, Inc.
Magnetrol International, Inc.
MedCom Group, LLC
Meyer Wealth Advisors
Midwest Coach Limousine, Inc.
Mitutoyo America Corporation
Mooney & Thomas P.C.
Old Second National Bank
OnLight Aurora
Painters District Council 30
Palo Creative, PLL
Paramount Arts Centre
Pilmer Real Estate
Plum Landing Retirement Community
Presence Mercy Medical Center
Pure Skin Solutions, LLC
R.C. Wegman Construction Company
Rasmussen College
Rich Harvest Farms
Rush Copley Medical Center
S&S Metal Recyclers II
Scientel Solutions
ServPro of Aurora
Sign*A*Rama
SmithAmundsen, LLC
Staffing Network, LLC & QPA
Staffmark
Steffes & Associates Language and Translation (SALT)
Stonebridge Country Club
Two Brothers Roundhouse
Valley Fastener Group, LLC
The Voice
Waubonsee Community College
Weldstar Company
Woodforest National Bank
World Finance Corporation
WSPY

Welcome New Members

Staffmark (Elite)
Albert Santana
184 Shuman Blvd, Suite 160, Naperville
(630) 717-9191
Employment Opportunities

Resilience Home Health Corp
Sunshine Gomez
3845 McCoy Drive, Suite 103, Aurora
(630) 236-8800
Health Services

 

Contact Us

Mail: 43 W. Galena Blvd.
Aurora, Illinois 60506
Phone: (630) 256-3180
Fax: (630) 256-3189
www.aurorachamber.com

 

 

Thank you, Sponsors, for a Great Holiday Celebration
Holiday Celebration

What a wonderful holiday celebration with the region’s business community. Thank you to our generous sponsors, our great partners, and the hundreds of business and community leaders that joined us last night for the 2017 Holiday Celebration: Jingle & Mingle. Have a great season and celebrate the accomplishments of 2017. We’ll be back in 2018 with the Regional Economic Pulse, State of the City, State of the Village, Leadership Academy, and so much more. #BusinessSuccess in 2018 is our goal. To see photos from the event, please visit https://www.facebook.com/AuroraChamber/videos/10155915845011382/

Premier Investors
Premier Investors
Calendar of Events
Business After Hours

Ground Breaking: Cyrus One Communications Tower
Thursday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m.
2905 Diehl Road, Aurora

Business After Hours: First American Bank
Thursday, Dec. 14, 5 – 7 p.m.
3054 E. New York Street, Aurora

Public Policy Update
For the latest in public policy news, be sure and like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Visit the Chamber blog:

Illinois Higher Education

Illinois Budget, Bonds

Illinois Jobs

Your Help Is Needed; Please Take Survey on Industry, Employability Competencies

Ill. GA: Telecommunications Modernization

Ill. GA: Wage History

Member News
31 Things

If you have news to share with your fellow members, please forward to info@aurorachamber.com. Be sure and check out our blog and social media for what’s happening in our region.

Know the ‘Real Coffee Story’

Illinois Winter Transportation

Illinois Bicentennial

2017 #GivingTuesday Highest on Record

Holiday Express Lights up Blackberry Farm in December – Eight Days in All

‘Give Your Brand a Hand’

VNA Health Care Offers Enrollment Assistance for Illinois Marketplace, Medicaid

Registration for FVPD Winter Programs Begins Nov. 18

Paramount Theatre Wins Eight Jeff Awards

Section of River Street to Close Until 2019

Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce | 43 W. Galena Blvd. Aurora, Illinois 60506
Phone: (630) 256-3180 Fax: (630) 256-3189 | www.aurorachamber.com
This email was sent by Bee Atomic on behalf of Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce.

#AuroraChamber News for Dec. 4; Last Chance to Register for Holiday Celebration

Monday, December 4th, 2017
Header
December 04, 2017
In This Issue

 

Quick Links

Follow Us!
Facebook Twitter Blog

Elite Members

For more information contact the chamber.

+Intention
95.9 The River
Aaron’s
Above Board Indoor Environmental
Accurate Personnel
Advance Auto Parts
Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.
Aurora Bank & Trust
Aurora Limousine
Aurora University
Baird & Warner – Holli Thurston
Beans Greens Proteins
Caterpillar, Inc.
Chicago Steel Hockey Team
City Segment
ComEd
Company 251
Copy King Office Solutions, Inc.
CyrusOne
Do or Dye Designs
Dolan & Murphy
Downtown Auroran Magazine
Eagle Digital Marketing
Endiro Coffee
Face To Face Beauty Studio
First Secure Community Bank
Gateway Mortgage Group
Jiffy Lube Multi-Care
Kluber Architects + Engineers
Konen Insurance Agency, Inc.
Magick Woods, Inc.
Magnetrol International, Inc.
MedCom Group, LLC
Meyer Wealth Advisors
Midwest Coach Limousine, Inc.
Mitutoyo America Corporation
Mooney & Thomas P.C.
Old Second National Bank
OnLight Aurora
Painters District Council 30
Palo Creative, PLL
Paramount Arts Centre
Pilmer Real Estate
Plum Landing Retirement Community
Presence Mercy Medical Center
Pure Skin Solutions, LLC
R.C. Wegman Construction Company
Rasmussen College
Rich Harvest Farms
Rush Copley Medical Center
S&S Metal Recyclers II
Scientel Solutions
ServPro of Aurora
Sign*A*Rama
SmithAmundsen, LLC
Staffing Network, LLC & QPA
Steffes & Associates Language and Translation (SALT)
Stonebridge Country Club
Two Brothers Roundhouse
Valley Fastener Group, LLC
The Voice
Waubonsee Community College
Weldstar Company
Woodforest National Bank
World Finance Corporation
WSPY

Welcome New Members

Scientel Solutions (Premier)
Nelson Santos
948 Springer Drive, Lombard
(630) 652-3800
Telecommunications

 

Contact Us

Mail: 43 W. Galena Blvd.
Aurora, Illinois 60506
Phone: (630) 256-3180
Fax: (630) 256-3189
www.aurorachamber.com

 

Register Today for Holiday Celebration
Holiday Celebration
Premier Investors
Premier Investors
Calendar of Events
Holiday Celebration
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Belle Salle Banquets, 1920 E. New York St., AuroraGrand Re-Opening: Homewood Suites
Thursday, Dec. 7, 3:30 – 8 p.m.
4320 Meridian Parkway, Aurora
Ribbon Cutting @ 4 p.m.

Business After Hours

Ground Breaking: Cyrus One Communications Tower
Thursday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m.
2905 Diehl Road, Aurora

Business After Hours: First American Bank
Thursday, Dec. 14, 5 – 7 p.m.
3054 E. New York Street, Aurora

Public Policy Update
For the latest in public policy news, be sure and like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.Visit the Chamber blog:

Illinois Higher Education

Illinois Budget, Bonds

Illinois Jobs

Your Help Is Needed; Please Take Survey on Industry, Employability Competencies

Ill. GA: Telecommunications Modernization

Ill. GA: Wage History

Member News
31 ThingsIf you have news to share with your fellow members, please forward to info@aurorachamber.com. Be sure and check out our blog and social media for what’s happening in our region.

Know the ‘Real Coffee Story’

Illinois Winter Transportation

Illinois Bicentennial

2017 #GivingTuesday Highest on Record

Holiday Express Lights up Blackberry Farm in December – Eight Days in All

‘Give Your Brand a Hand’

VNA Health Care Offers Enrollment Assistance for Illinois Marketplace, Medicaid

Registration for FVPD Winter Programs Begins Nov. 18

Paramount Theatre Wins Eight Jeff Awards

Section of River Street to Close Until 2019

Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce | 43 W. Galena Blvd. Aurora, Illinois 60506
Phone: (630) 256-3180 Fax: (630) 256-3189 | www.aurorachamber.com
This email was sent by Bee Atomic on behalf of Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Know the ‘Real Coffee Story’

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

There has been significant coffee news out of Uganda lately. The Ugandan Coffee Development Authority reported that total exports for the 2016-17 season increased by 18%. Another announcement was recently made by the world’s largest furniture retailer, Ikea, who has entered into a multiyear agreement with Ugandan coffee giant Kawacom to put some 500,000 retail bags of coffee on the shelves of their stores around the world. Such stories were welcomed with excitement by coffee industry players in Uganda, but just how good is this news?

Unfortunately, it is too quickly assumed that increased exports of Ugandan coffee automatically mean good things for the farmers who grow it. Global coffee trade, however, has long been a demand-side industry in which practically every bean has a buyer somewhere. The farmer who sold all of their coffee last year is not necessarily better off when they sell all of their beans again this year. Selling out does not necessarily equal economic growth in business and thus cannot be thought to automatically signal positive transformation in the coffee village.

What does?

Think about it. A farmer, let’s call her Joyce, who sold 500 kilos of coffee cherries at 1000 Ugandan shillings (UGX) per kilo ($0.27 USD) in the 2013-14 season has made a total of 500,000 UGX or $138 USD. If demand for Joyce’s coffee increases during the next year she can still only sell a maximum of 100% of her crop. So, the only way her condition can improve is if she has the means to increase her crop volume or the price at which she sells it. Unfortunately, in Uganda, most farmers don’t have this kind of power.

When we at Endiro began to explore the farm side of coffee a few years ago, we discovered that even the “Fair Trade” farmers were not receiving either fair trade wages or any kind of community inputs which would help them to increase their volumes. Instead farmers were facing annually decreasing crop yields and were being offered ever-decreasing prices for their coffee.

So, the reality was that a farmer like Joyce from our scenario above reached the 2014-15 season and found that she had only 300 kilos to sell and that the coffee buyers were had decreased their buying price to 900 shillings per kilo. Joyce then earned only 270,000 UGX or $75 USD. Her hope that coffee could ever improve her quality of life was quickly diminishing.

A recent report by Lehigh University’s Kelly Austin found that the average coffee farming family in Uganda’s coffee-rich Bududa district earns only about $100 USD per year from their crops. Austin goes on to cite increased illnesses, poor education access for children, and gender inequality as just a few side effects of this extreme poverty.

Facilitating change is, at one level, quite simple. If coffee is going to become a source of hope and positive transformation, two things must happen. First, farmers must get better prices for their coffee and, second, they must achieve better crop yields.

Endiro has been dedicated to pursuing these two things since 2015. We began our work in the Bududa’s Bukalasi community with a group of women and men who had been exploited for many years. These were farmers who were producing coffee that ultimately made it to the shelves of grocery stores in the USA and Europe in packages stamped with a “Fair Trade Certified” label. Their reality however was far from fair. The Bukalasi women were selling their ever-decreasing volumes of coffee to middlemen as cherries for 800-1500 UGX per kilo. The middlemen then resold the coffee to cooperatives and brokers who then continued to move the coffee through several layers of trade on its way to Third Wave coffee joints and high-end grocery stores in the West. No money made it back to Bukalasi in the form of trainings, equipment, or community development projects. The farmers were left to struggle alone against drought, pests, sickness and more. After all, if they failed to produce, there was always another farmer somewhere else who had coffee to sell.

There is little question that we at Endiro had almost no idea what we were doing when we first began to partner with the ladies of Bukalasi. We had never farmed coffee and had almost zero agricultural knowledge. What we did have was a passionate and uncompromising commitment to a few key principles:

1)      Ignoring global market prices, we would pay 8,000 UGX per kilo of coffee, without exception.

2)      We would train and equip the farmers so that they could perform initial processing (floating, pulping, washing, drying) so that we could achieve a specialty grade coffee.

3)      We would do everything in the context of genuine relationship.

The farmers didn’t believe we were serious at first. After all, no one was paying that much for coffee. No one was paying anything close to that. We were surely deceiving them. So, at first, they protected themselves. They used our equipment and continued to sell most of their coffee to the middlemen. When we came for the first portion of the harvest in 2015, we found only a little more than a ton of coffee. But then the money started to be distributed and the farmers realized that we were for real. We finished that season (2015-16) with just under 7,000 kilos of coffee.

Now, remember Joyce, our imagined farmer from above. If she sold us her 300 kilos of coffee that year, she just made 2.4 million shillings ($650 USD). That’s significant.

During the offseason, we continued to coach, pray with and work alongside farmers to re-strategize their farming methods. By teaching them basics of harvesting, pruning, teamwork, how to create natural organic fertilizers and how to control pests through organic methods we saw that the farmers increased their yields for the 2016-17 by over 100%. We bought over 14,000 kilos from Bukalasi last season and the resulting quality has been judged by many to be Uganda’s best tasting coffee. In fact that Bukalasi coffee is now being enjoyed as far away as the USA and Taiwan.

Once again, we check in with Joyce, our representative farmer. Now, her crop has increased from 300 kilos to 600. Joyce now has an annual income on par with the Ugandan national average, something she had never dreamed possible.

During a recent visit to Bukalasi to launch the new season, we heard from all of the Bukalasi team leaders – farmers elected by their peers to represent teams of 50 farmers. Their testimonies were breathtaking. One woman said that it was the first time in her life that she had ever seen 1 million shillings. She was immediately followed by another farmer who said it was her first time to see 2 million! Several farmers reported that they used their money from last year to buy milk cows and that as a result their children were no longer suffering from malnourishment. Many farmers used their earnings to pay school fees for their children who were no longer missing school. A young man reported with pride that he had begun nursing school thanks to the family’s coffee earnings. One can only imagine the long-term impact that an educated younger generation will have on Bukalasi. The reports continued for a long time.

For the 2017-18 season, Bukalasi has set a goal of 50,000 kilos of coffee and so far they are well on pace. Preliminary testing suggests that the coffee this year will be the best they’ve ever produced, approaching cupping scores in the high 80s. Some of our farmers will produce 1000, 2000, 3000 and greater volumes of coffee this year and find themselves quickly approaching the ranks of Uganda’s middle class.

For our part, we have stepped up our commitment to these farmers. We will be paying 8,300 UGX per kilo this season in Bukalasi and investing in additional equipment, training and more. We are even working to develop coffee leaf tea and cascara (a beverage made from the dried fruit of coffee cherries) so as to bring two additional streams of revenue to the Endiro Growers Bukalasi Group.

This is what we mean when we say we are brewing better together. We mean partnering with the farming families, who must be fully participating agents in building their own future, to develop holistic strategies which genuinely bring transformation. The ladies of Bukalasi have a saying that they have adopted as a kind of motto for their forward success – “I am not poor, my head is poor.” We believe that these women have much to teach a world of ultra-wealthy coffee conglomerates who cannot see their way to increasing the amount of money they pay farmers. In fact, they have much to teach all of us. How many of our supposed obstacles are little more than mental blocks. Maybe we aren’t so poor, but our heads are poor.

We hope you coffee lovers out there will take a moment to consider the choices you make with each cup you drink. We hope you café owners will forget about brand names for a moment when you look for a coffee supplier. We hope you micro-roasters will look beyond mere certifications and price tags when you order your next bag of green. Get to know the real story. And, if you are so inclined, join the Endiro story and brew better together with us!

Illinois Winter Transportation

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

 “Winter Weather – Get It Together” winter driving preparation push begins. The Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Illinois Tollway have opened a joint initiative to help concerned drivers and families prepare for winter driving conditions. Called “Winter Weather – Get it Together”, the effort includes videos and a checkoff sheet for motorists to view and get ready.

Helpful tips include the desirability of having an emergency car care kit for cold conditions. The kit could contain jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food, and a first aid kit. Many drivers will already have one of the most important items of all: a fully charged cell phone and car charger.

Illinois drivers are preparing for snow and ice conditions by watching out for road ice, especially on bridges, ramps, and shaded areas. Standard warnings concerning seat belt usage, no driving while using a handheld device, and avoiding stopped first-responder and construction vehicles are repeated and intensified for winter driving conditions.

Illinois Bicentennial

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Rep. Tim Butler leads countdown to Illinois bicentennial in December 2018. The twelve-month period to observe Illinois’ 200th birthday as a state begins on December 3, 2017, when Illinois turns 199. Bicentennial commission member Tim Butler calls for celebrating historic U.S. Route 66, the “Mother Road” that ties together Chicago and Downstate. The Illinois Bicentennial will commemorate the technologies that have helped to create the modern state, including Route 66, Illinois railroads, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

The Illinois Bicentennial Commission is coordinating a program of events in locations throughout Illinois to celebrate the milestone. More events are expected to be added as Illinois approaches the actual birthday on December 3, 2018. This birthday commemorates passage by Congress of the law that admitted Illinois to the Union as the 21st state. Illinois was one of the states planned by President Thomas Jefferson as his proposal for the future of what had been the frontier “Northwest Territory.” By 1818 Jefferson had left office, but his friend and successor President James Monroe led the actual admission of Illinois into the national union of states.

Illinois Higher Education

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Illinois notched 40,400 STEM graduates in 2016. The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, utilizing data from LinkedIn, tracks Illinois higher education graduation choices and numbers. In the Fall 2017 “Talent Index” report, the Coalition reports a record number of Illinois higher education graduates in fields relating to high-tech economic growth.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) study fields are often treated as proxies for the ability of a recent graduate of higher education to contribute to the evolving high-tech economy. The 40,400 STEM degrees awarded in Illinois in 2016 represent 31.8% of all Illinois graduates, which compares favorably with the parallel ratio of 28.3% posted by U.S. 2016 graduates as a national group. Illinois’ numbers indicate that Prairie State institutions of higher education are outpacing the higher education infrastructure of the U.S. as a whole in the encouragement of growth-oriented educational pathways.

Within this overall STEM graduation population, 3,300 degrees were awarded in computer science. This record number of Illinois computer science degrees made Illinois second only to California in the number of degrees awarded. Illinois institutions of higher education awarded 4.4% of total U.S. degrees awarded in 2016, but 9.9% of total U.S. computer science degrees.

Illinois Budget, Bonds

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

State of Illinois sells $750 million in bonds. The General Obligation bond issuance was announced on Wednesday, November 29. $655 million in Series 2017A bonds were issued for major capital construction projects that include road repair, bridge renewal, and school construction. Illinois is continually issuing new capital construction bonds for transportation and infrastructure upkeep. The 2017A bond package will have a final maturity of 2042 and will bear a true interest cost of 4.33%. The nominal interest cost sometimes differs from the true interest cost, as in this case, when the bonds are priced to market as a slight discount or premium.

$95 million in Series 2017B bonds were issued to finance information technology projects. The Illinois Department of Information Technology, created by executive order issued by Gov. Rauner, has begun a multiyear process to move the State’s information technology (IT) platforms from an obsolescent platform of incompatible mainframes, which is what Rauner’s team found in Springfield when they came into office in January 2015, to a new platform of secure cloud-based data storage and processing. The 2017B bond package will have a final maturity date of 2027 and will carry a true interest cost of 3.71%.

The relatively low interest rates reflect the stabilization of Illinois’ credit ratings. The bonds are rated Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service, BBB- by S&P Global, and BBB by Fitch Ratings. Illinois’ underwriter was able to show bond buyers that the State has not been marked down to “junk bond” credit rating status. However, Illinois’ continuing pattern of overspending and budget woes meant that the State and its taxpayers still have to pay higher interest rates than other American public-sector borrowers.

Illinois Jobs

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Unemployment rate drops in every Illinois metropolitan area. Statistics published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a year-over-year unemployment rate cut in each of Illinois’ 102 counties. The state gained 18,200 new nonfarm payroll jobs between October 2016 and October 2017, strengthening Illinois prosperity and consumer behavior. The new numbers are based upon data compiled by state employers and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As in previous months, new job creation was concentrated in local metropolitan areas that are economically oriented towards health care, health care research and development, financial services, and higher education. The lowest rates of October 2017 joblessness were found in Bloomington-Normal (Illinois State University, State Farm), with 3.8%, and Lake County (Abbott Labs, Takeda Pharmaceuticals), with 3.9%. Higher jobless rates were once again posted in traditionally manufacturing-oriented municipal areas, such as Danville (6.0%) and Decatur (5.2%).