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Archive for April 24th, 2014

Obama Administration Launches Online Veterans Employment Center: One-Stop-Shop Connects Veterans, Transitioning Service Members, and their Spouses to Employers

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

One-Stop-Shop Connects Veterans, Transitioning Service Members, and their Spouses to Employers

At yesterday’s anniversary celebration of Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced the launch of a new integrated employment tool to connect veterans and service members with employers, and to help translate military skills into the civilian workforce.  The Veterans Employment Center, an integrated, online tool connecting veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses with both public and private-sector employers, is the result of an interagency effort to improve, simplify and consolidate the current array of employment resources for veterans.  Additionally, this will provide one comprehensive database of resumes for employers who are seeking to leverage the skills and talents of veterans, service members, and their spouses.

“Our service members haven’t always had the time or information they needed to prepare their resumes, to plot their career goals, to meet with employers and get the jobs they deserve. And that’s simply not acceptable,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “As my husband has said, when you’ve fought for this country around the world, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you return home.  Starting today, every single service member, every veteran, and every military family will have access to a new online tool that will revolutionize how you find jobs in both the public and private sectors.  All you have to do is log on to ebenefits.va.gov.”

“Veterans deserve an authoritative source for connecting with employers,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The online Veterans Employment Center is the single, federal source for veterans looking for new career opportunities, service members transitioning to the civilian workforce, and spouses and beneficiaries looking to connect with job opportunities.”

The new online resource, called the Veterans Employment Center, is the first interagency tool to bring a wealth of public and private job opportunities, a resume-builder, military skills translator and detailed career and training resources together in one place.  In connection with the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, the Department of Veterans Affairs worked with employers, the Departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and the Office of Personnel Management to design and develop the site and incorporate features of existing online employment tools within government.

The result is an integrated solution providing veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses with the tools they need to connect to employers. With this tool, employers will be able to search and view Veteran, Service Member, and spouse resumes in one comprehensive location.

“Our service members transitioning to civilian life, as well as their spouses, deserve the resources they need to be successful,” said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. “Through this effort, they are getting that help. Our troops and their spouses are proven leaders, highly-skilled and hard-working. Employers hiring them are getting the best this nation has to offer.”

“Improving veterans’ employment is an all-hands-on-deck enterprise,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “With more than 1 million service members projected to leave the military in the coming years, the Veterans Employment Center, along with the wealth of services the Department of Labor offers through its 2,500 American Job Centers, will connect our veterans and service members with both public and private sector employers eager to hire those with military experience.”

“OPM’s USAJobs program is excited to be partnering with the VA on making this a robust tool for our nation’s veterans and transitioning service members seeking Federal employment,” said OPM Director, Katherine Archuleta. “It has been more than four years since President Obama established the Veterans Employment Initiative and, in that time, the Executive Branch of Government hired the highest percentage of military veterans in more than 20 years – of the 195,000 new employees hired in FY 2012, approximately 56,000 were veterans, equaling 28.9 percent of total hires. We can continue to honor and show our appreciation for the dedicated and heroic service of America’s veterans by ensuring that they have every opportunity to continue their service to this great nation as Federal civilian employees. The Veterans Employment Center helps us honor these men and women by making employment opportunities available when our servicemen and women lay down their uniforms.”

The Veterans Employment Center will provide employers with access to a targeted pool of resumes from veterans and transitioning service members, allowing them to search resumes to identify veterans with skill sets applicable to civilian employment at their organization, and to track progress towards reaching their veteran hiring goals.  Resumes are visible to all employers with an active LinkedIn or Google profile.  To prevent spam, an applicant’s name and email address are redacted and only visible to employers verified by the VA as registered companies with the IRS.  The site is also built using open data and an open application programming interface to attract private-sector innovation.

Joining Forces is a national initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden to engage all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. In addition, Dr. Biden launched the Military Spouse Employment Partnership in June 2011 with just under 60 companies. Yesterday, Dr. Biden announced there are 228 partner employers, more than 1.8 million jobs posted on the MSEP Career Portal and more than 60,000 military spouse hires.

The Veterans Employment Center can be found at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs

For a tutorial video on how to use the Veterans Employment Center, please visit:


Activists Say “No” to Combat Drone for Boeing Company

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Will Protest Boeing Stockholder Meeting, Monday, April 28, at 9:30 a.m., at Field Museum, South Entrance

A group of local activists led by the Anti-War Committee (AWC) will hold a press conference outside the Boeing Company annual stockholders’ meeting. They oppose the Pentagon plan to build a new combat drone that is larger, faster, able to launch from an aircraft carrier, and far more deadly. Boeing is bidding for this contract.

Kait McIntyre, a member of AWC, will also announce her candidacy for Boeing’s stockholders’ board. “Boeing is vying for a contract with the Navy for a new killer drone – a contract that they say they must win to stay competitive among arms manufacturers,” said McIntyre.  “It’s time to end the drone wars, not prepare to build another generation of more lethal weapons.”

McIntyre is calling on Boeing to: disinvest in drone research, including stopping its pursuit of the Navy UCLASS combat drone contract; cease military production; stop attacks on its unionized workers; end environmentally destructive products and practices; and pay the state and federal governments the billions in taxes the corporation has dodged in the past decade.

Other speakers will include: Sister Dorothy Pagosa of the 8th Day Center for Justice; Brian Terrell of Voices for Creative Non-Violence; Mike James, President of the Democratic Party of the 49th Ward; and Joe Iosbaker, chair of the joint bargaining committee of SEIU Local 73 at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Visit antiwarcommitteechicago.blogspot.com for more information about the protest, including a campaign video for McIntyre.

Group Calls for National Standard for Scholarship Athletes in Revenue Producing Sports

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 2 COMMENTS

Today, April 24, 2014, at 2 p.m., Game Changers” will Announce Blueprint for a National Standard and Benchmark

“Game Changers” – Collegiate Alumni Athletes for Change – are Northwestern University alumni and former athletes from 6 different decades that have formed to advocate for common sense reforms to help Northwestern University set a standard and benchmark for NCAA institutions with scholarship athletes in revenue producing sports.

The group, better known as “Game Changers”, formed out of a concern for the equity and well being of scholarship athletes of revenue producing sports at Northwestern University. On April 24, 2014, one day before the Northwestern University football team votes on the question of unionization, the group will announce a framework to create a blueprint for policies and proposals that could enhance the on and off field experiences of scholarship athletes. “I believe that this group can help make a great University even better,” said former All-Pro and y-time NFL Pro-bowler Chris Hinton, a 1983 graduate of NU and member of the group.

The amazing revenue growth of college football at Northwestern University (NU reported $235 million in football related revenues from 2003 to 2013), and at other Big Ten schools over the last 10 years creates opportunities to enhance the health and lives of college football players and their families. Northwestern University has one of the top football programs in America with one of the highest graduation rates.

Confirmed Attendees: Pat Harrington ’69, RickTelander ’71, John Voorhees ’71, Chris Hinton ’83, Todd Jenkins ’84, Alex Mover ’85, Kevin Brown ’85, Jared Carpenter ’13.

For more information on the “Game Changers” Collegiate Alumni Athletes for Change, contact spokesperson Kevin Brown at 847-859-9340 or collegiatealumniathletes@gmail.com.

Northwestern University

WHO: “Game Changers” Collegiate Alumni Athletes for Change

WHAT: Announcement of Blueprint for a National Standard and Benchmark

WHEN: 2 PM – April 24, 2014

WHERE: Lorrain H. Morton Civic Center – Room 2200
2100 Ridge Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201

(Distributed through BlackNews.com)

Statewide Conference Addresses Suicide Prevention Among Youth and Young Adults

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Federal, state and local health care professionals, along with community organizers, educators and others will gather in Springfield on Friday, April 25 to attend the Illinois Youth Suicide Prevention Project’s (IYSPP) 2014 Statewide Suicide Prevention Conference. Participants will learn about the latest in research on youth suicide prevention to gain a better understanding of prevention, intervention and aftercare strategies. The conference will be held from 8 am to 4:15 pm at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Suicide is a public health problem that affects everyone. It is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24. Each year 4,600 youth from this age group take their own lives. Yet, more young people actually survive suicide attempts than actually die. Approximately 157,000 youth ages 10 to 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at emergency departments across the U.S. each year.

“It is important to identify the warning signs and if the signs are there, connecting the individual to supportive services is critical,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Our conference will focus on new developments within the field of youth suicide prevention; however, it will also take into account populations across the lifespan when considering the importance of suicide prevention.”

The conference’s theme Preventing Suicide Among Youth and Young Adults: Everyone has a Role acknowledges that preventing suicide involves collaboration by the entire community. This one-day event is sponsored in conjunction with the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA), the University of Illinois Springfield Counseling Center and the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance.

The conference will include presentations by Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Dr. John Draper, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Dr. Peter Gutierrez, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The speakers’ presentations will stream live from 8:30 – 10:15 am and 1:45 – 2:45 pm on the IPHA’s website at: http://www.ipha.com/Public/Events/EventDetails.aspx?eventId=314.

The 2014 Statewide Suicide Prevention Conference serves as a “kick off” to Mental Health Awareness Month (May) and Suicide Prevention Day (May 22).

Sponsoring the 2014 Statewide Suicide Prevention Conference is just one of the ways IDPH is working to expand and cultivate partnerships to advance Illinois’ public health agenda. It is also one of the goals in the IDPH Five Year Strategy 2014-2018. For a copy of the strategic plan, go to http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/StrategicPlan_Final_2014-2018.pdf.

NAACP Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 2 COMMENTS

Washington, DC – The NAACP released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s ban on affirmative action. In a recent 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court and ruled that Michigan’s Proposal 2 — a 2006 ballot initiative that led to a state constitutional ban on race-conscious college admissions policies in Michigan – is indeed constitutional. The ruling specifically prohibits students from lobbying universities to consider race as one of many factors in admissions.

From Lorraine C. Miller, NAACP Interim President and CEO:
“The Supreme Court’s decision embraces discrimination and rejects diversity. It’s in our nation’s best interest to ensure talented students from all backgrounds get a close look and a fair shot at overcoming obstacles to educational opportunity.  The NAACP is committed to fighting Michigan’s constitutional amendment at the ballot box and helping other states advance diversity in higher education.”
From Hilary Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Sr. VP of Policy & Advocacy:
“The NAACP is outraged with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s ban on the use of equal opportunity programs such as affirmative action as race conscious solutions must be available for racially discriminatory problems. As we approach the 60th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education, we are reminded that there remain challenges to securing educational opportunities for all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity. The Supreme Court has impeded our country’s efforts to address the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education and puts the access of future generations to high quality and well-rounded education in serious jeopardy.”
From Yvonne White, President of the NAACP Michigan State Conference:
“We want to see more of Michigan’s African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, not fewer. We believe that the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on college affirmative action was a step in the wrong direction. “Proposal 2 means less diversity in our universities and fewer opportunities for students from underrepresented groups. We have an obligation to ensure that the pathway to a world-class education is available to all students.  We’re a better, stronger and more efficient Michigan when we embrace diversity.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

Goodman Theatre Announces a May 13 Celebration of the Life of Robert Christen (1949-2014), One of the Most Prolific Lighting Designers in the American Theater

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 2 COMMENTS

The Memorial for Christen, The Goodman’s Resident Lighting Designer since 1972 who Mentored Generations of Stage Technicians and Up-And-Coming Designers is Open to Chicago Theater Community

Chicago, IL – On May 13, Goodman Theatre celebrates the life and creative contributions of Robert (Bob) Christen, its longtime Resident Lighting Designer and one of the most prolific live performance designers in the country, who passed away last month at age 64. The Chicago-based Christen designed more than 100 productions at the Goodman over four decades, and was the only designer to have worked under three artistic directors—William Woodman, Gregory Mosher and Robert Falls. Among his extensive credits, Christen counts more than 30 premiere productions, including two plays by David Mamet (American Buffalo in 1975 and A Life in the Theatre in 1977); Marvin’s Room by Scott McPherson (also at the Kennedy Center, Playwright’s Horizon, Minetta Lane Theatre and in London’s West End) in 1990 and 1993; Rebecca Gilman’s Spinning Into Butter (1999) and the 1978 original production of A Christmas Carol, and each production since. His final two productions took place earlier this season: Resident Director Chuck Smith’s production of Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl L. West and A Christmas Carol, directed by Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper.

The May 13 celebration, held in the Albert Theatre from 4-6pm followed by a reception, is open to all. Call 312.443.3800 for more information. In recognition of Christen’s 42 years at the Goodman, the theater names the Albert Theatre light booth in his honor. Those wishing to individually commemorate Christen can make a gift to the Goodman’s Endowing Excellence Campaign, a major initiative that ensures the Goodman as a place for innovation and mentorship—two principles central to his legacy as a leading lighting designer in his field. To make a gift or for more information, please contact Amber Bel’cher at 312.443.3811 ext. 220 or AmberBelCher@GoodmanTheatre.org.

“Bob Christen was one of the most significant people in the history of the Goodman. In his brilliance as an artist combined with his acumen as a master electrician, he was essential to everything we have achieved over the past four decades.” said Executive Director Roche Schulfer. “His impact on theater, dance and music in Chicago and across the country is immeasurable. Most importantly, Bob was a great friend, tremendous colleague and wonderful person.”

Christen was hired as Stage Electrician on December 8, 1972, and was quickly promoted to Master Electrician the following year. From 1978 – 2014, he was the Goodman’s Resident Lighting Designer/Lighting Supervisor. Christen’s first collaboration with Artistic Director Robert Falls was the 1979 production of Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class, featuring John Malkovich and Glenne Headley, in the Goodman’s studio space. Over the years, he collaborated extensively with current and former members of the Artistic Collective, including the late Michael Maggio, Frank Galati, David Petrarca, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith and Regina Taylor.

His New York credits include The Song of Jacob Zulu (on Broadway, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and at Perth International Arts Festival, Australia); Wings at the Public Theatre; Sin at Second Stage Theatre and Mill Fire at the Women’s Project. Regional credits include designs at Hartford Stage, GeVa Theatre Center, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Music Theater of Wichita. In Chicago, Christen designed lighting for Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Court Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater and Ravinia Festival. Dance lighting credits include new works by Lynne Taylor Corbett; Margo Sappington; Lou Conte at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, for which he designed and toured as lighting supervisor for seven years; Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio, and lighting direction for the Joffrey Ballet. He also designed Symphony Center’s annual holiday spectacular, Welcome Yule.

The Duke Ellington Orchestra Will Raise the Roof at the Harris Theater on Mother’s Day in Honor of Jazz Unites, Inc.

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

It was 40 years ago that jazz vocalist, Geraldine de Haas, prevailed in her efforts to bring the first Duke Ellington tribute to Grant Park, following the prolific composer and musician’s death in 1974.  That outdoor concert, which was held in Grant Park for five years, was the forerunner to many of the music festivals Chicagoans enjoy today.

As an homage to the anniversary, Jazz Unites–the non-profit that de Haas later founded—is bringing The Duke Ellington Orchestra to the Harris Theater at Millennium Park for an afternoon concert on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014.  The 40th Anniversary Duke Ellington Tribute concert brings the event full circle.

“This is not only the anniversary of the Grant Park tribute, but 2014 is Duke’s 115th birth year.  So, being able to bring the Duke Ellington Orchestra to Chicago is a triumph for the small organization that has always thought big,” says Delmarie Cobb, chair of the tribute event.

Over the years, Jazz Unites has struggled to stay afloat.  Last year, it had to forgo its other signature event—the annual JazzFest at the South Shore Cultural Center, after the retirement of de Haas.   Her children moved she and husband, bassist Eddie de Haas, to New Jersey due to their failing health.

“Jazz Unites used to put on four annual events, but the organization’s two signature events are the Duke Ellington tribute and the jazz festival,” explains Clarence Williamson, a long-time board member and now the organization’s president.  “We want to build up these two events again and get some younger people involved.”

Local vocalist Greta Pope is performing with The Duke Ellington Orchestra while at the Harris Theater.  Pope is the daughter-in-law of “Kay Davis,” who sang with Ellington from 1944 to 1950.  Davis, whose real name was Kathryn Wimp, died in 2012.  Pope regularly performs her own tribute to Ellington in memory of her late mother-in-law.

The manager of The Duke Ellington Orchestra says band members are looking forward to playing in Chicago after a long absence.

For more information, visit the website at www.jazzuniteschicago.org or call

Professor Teaches Black Entrepreneurs How to Succeed in Any Economy

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Power MOVE By Devin Robinson

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Economic activist, Devin Robinson, explains how blacks can live comfortably to 10% of their income and build mainstream businesses in his 8th book, Power M.O.V.E.: How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur. Robinson, a military veteran and network engineer, entered into full-time entrepreneurship after becoming frustrated with Corporate America. He ditched his $85,000 a year job for the risks of business ownership.

Over the past decade, he has worked on many community economic initiatives that have resulted in thousands of entrepreneurs being trained and transformed, while hundreds went on to being put into full-time entrepreneurship. He said, “Entrepreneurship must become a way of life for African-Americans. There are too many hiring disparities in America for African-Americans to trust using a college degree to get a high-paying job.”

He has built numerous businesses for himself, earned a living by day trading stocks and generated over $10 million in revenues through business development in urban communities. Recently the SBA released a report showing it provided billions in funding for small businesses in 2013, however only 1.7% of those funds made it to black-owned businesses.

Robinson’s book Power M.O.V.E. has been used to develop entrepreneurial curriculum and to date, hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs have been trained through his Power M.O.V.E. Academy. Subscribers to his newsletter get a free business plan template instantly at www.PowerMoveProfessionals.com.

Robinson has appeared on numerous national media platforms to include Radio One, Ebony magazine, NBC and more. He has worked with the National Urban League, Department of Labor, local government agencies and more. His activism has been played out in his 2009 one-week boycott of Korean-owned beauty supply stores and his 2013 Atlanta protest for Trayvon Martin. He is a former Atlanta President of Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network where he helped launch the first economic initiative panel at the agency’s annual convention. He is a business and economics professor who has taught at Oglethorpe and Bellevue Universities.

He donates time, books and revenues to two of his favorite neighborhood charities Full Circle Refuge and M.E.N.S. Wear Inc. regularly.

He concluded, “The key to successful entrepreneurship lies in one’s psychology. If we can first battle the impatient spending habits of the urban community by turning that spending into patient investing, we can see much more entrepreneurs rise out of our community’s ranks.”

You can learn about him at www.DevinRobinson.com or at www.PowerMoveProfessionals.com or call him at 404-551-4398.

Photo Caption: Bookcover

Education Funding Advisory Board to work toward K-12 recommendation

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Committee will recommend the foundation level for adequate education

CHICAGO, IL — The Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) will convene Thursday, April 24, to begin work on its recommendation for adequate education funding. The state-mandated advisory committee must recommend by January 2015 the minimum per-pupil funding necessary to adequately educate each student in the state’s K-12 public schools. State and local funding sources make up this statutorily set funding, known as the foundation level.

“As we look at the various budget scenarios for fiscal year 2015, it’s important that we remember the important work undertaken by the members of EFAB for the past several years,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “While we may not reach the EFAB recommendation today, it’s critical that we keep our focus on moving toward more equitable and adequate education funding.”

In the most recent EFAB report, issued in January 2013, the advisory committee called for a number of changes, primarily increasing the foundation level from the current statutorily set foundation level of $6,119 to $8,672. It’s important to note that districts are not receiving the full foundation level today because state appropriations have not covered the full General State Aid claims, forcing across-the board-proration of district General State Aid (GSA) payments for several years. In FY 2014, which runs July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, GSA was prorated at 89 percent of the total GSA claim.

EFAB also recommended increasing the per-pupil grant range of Supplemental GSA for low-income students, from $355-$2,994 to $490-$4,129. The cost of Supplemental GSA is growing as the number of low-income pupils increases and as they make up a larger proportion of the overall student population, now comprising half of all students. Even as the low-income student population has grown, the total student population statewide has declined slightly. The growth in low-income students has taken place in all geographic regions of the state. These recommendations would have required an additional $5.6 billion in total GSA funding for the current fiscal year.

Additionally, EFAB recommended in January 2013 that the state provide the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) with adequate resources and called for further study of the state funding formula, an endeavor that has been undertaken by ISBE and lawmakers.

“While EFAB recognizes the dire financial position of the State of Illinois, the lack of adequate funding for basic education is a failure of the state’s moral and fiduciary responsibilities,” the report states.

EFAB, established by law in 1997, is required to provide both the General Assembly and the Governor with a recommended foundation level every two years. This week’s meeting marks the first time the EFAB has met since Jan. 15, 2013, when it issued its last report. The advisory committee must submit its next recommendation by January 2015.

The following items are on the agenda for this week’s meeting:

· Discuss the findings of the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC).

· Review proposed legislation impacting General State Aid, including Senate Bill 16 and Senate Bill 589.

· Outline the method for determining the foundation level.

· Establish a timetable for submitting a report by Jan. 1, 2015.

Four members currently sit on the EFAB: Chairwoman Sylvia Puente, Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum; Sheila Harrison-Williams, Superintendent of Hazel Crest School District 152.5; Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association; and Daniel Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. There is one vacancy.

The video-conference meeting will begin at 10 a.m.

Chicago Location: ISBE Video Conference Room, 1th Floor, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

Springfield Location: ISBE Video Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 100 N. First St., Springfield.

First Companies Complete Illinois Tollway Sponsored Program to Assist Small Construction Businesses

Posted by Admin On April - 24 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

“Coaching for Growth” Program Offers Training, Networking for Diverse Firms

DOWNERS GROVE, IL — The Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized the first group of businesses to complete a program designed to help small construction companies, including minority- and women-owned firms, compete for Tollway contracts.

The Construction Coaching for Growth program offers specialized training during one-on-one coaching sessions and group workshops to help participating small businesses achieve growth by developing successful operating, sales and financial practices.

The first cohort of eight construction companies to finish the program was congratulated at the Great Lakes Region Small Business Transportation Summit in Chicago.

“Providing training and support for small businesses will create more jobs and more opportunities for these companies,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “These growing businesses will help keep our economy moving forward.”

The Construction Coaching for Growth program will help give small and diverse businesses the opportunity to take part in the Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.

“This program will provide training and expertise to smaller companies so they can play a big part in our long-term plans to expand and improve the Tollway system,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “All firms, no matter how big or small, should have an equal chance at doing this vital work.”

The program is the latest in a partnership between the state agencies and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to develop new programs and services to ensure diverse businesses are working in the heavy construction industry.

“Helping minority-owned and women-owned small businesses is a core value behind our job creation efforts,” said Adam Pollet, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “Diversity in business ownership means an even stronger economy for Illinois.”

“Small businesses are the lifeline of our economy. As we rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, small businesses deserve a chance to compete,” said Omar Duque, President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This program, in partnership with the Illinois Tollway, provides targeted training and one-on-one coaching, creating opportunities for small businesses and minority firms to grow their businesses and create jobs.”

The leaders of four businesses from Cohort 1 of the Construction Coaching for Growth Program participated in LaunchPad at the Summit, an event showcasing the services and future plans for each of the companies, as well as the benefits of the Construction Coaching for Growth program.

“It was an all-around great program that helped me clarify the vision I had for my company,” said Samantha Smith, president of Quick Cuts Concrete Cutting Services, a Belvidere company launched in 2007. Her company, which has worked as a subcontractor on Tollway projects, plans to continue to bid for work on future Move Illinois programs.

“It really gave me an opportunity to focus on my business and analyze how I wanted it to grow,” said Rey Rivera Jr., president of CSI 3000, a Chicago-based concrete contractor.

The program provided not just technical information, but opportunities to develop relationships that will help small businesses grow.

“One of the benefits was getting to know other companies in the areas where you do work. It’s a chance to promote yourself to other contractors working in the same field,” said Jose L. Aguilar, president of Belvidere-based Conin Contractor Services.

“There are a lot of benefits. Both the information they gave me and the relationships I built are invaluable,” said Julie Savitt, president of AMS Earth Movers, a Lake Villa hauling company established in 2007.

Other companies in the first cohort to complete the Coaching for Growth training include:

E R Bakey

E R Bakey was established in 2010 and provides service in demolition, trucking, excavating, disaster recovery, reconstruction and debris removal. It is headquartered in Carpentersville, IL.

Ocean Mist, Inc.

Ocean Mist, Inc. is a trucking company based in Schaumburg.  Established in 2009, it provides hauling services at construction sites.

R Power & Lighting, Co.

R Power & Lighting, Co. is a full-service electrical contractor from Forest Park, IL. The company specializes in electrical and data systems installation.

Sanchez and Associates, P.C.

Sanchez and Associates is a surveyor specializing in land title, boundary, and topographic surveys. The company is located in Chicago and was established in 2005.

For more information about Coaching for Growth, visit www.illinoistollway.com.

About Move Illinois

The Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, will improve mobility, relieve congestion, reduce pollution, create as many as 120,000 jobs and link economies across the Midwest region. Move Illinois will address the remaining needs of the existing Tollway system; rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st century corridor; construct a new interchange to connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57; build a new, all-electronic Elgin O’Hare Western Access and fund planning studies for the Illinois Route 53/120 Extension and the Illiana Expressway.

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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