Monday, December 7, 2009

Now Accepting Nominations

It is time once again to honor those in the region who have spent many years dedicating their time and talents to the betterment of East Central Illinois communities. In the past, ECIDC, LLC, and EIU have joined to award a few of these individuals or businesses each year with the Business Ethics and Social Involvement Awards. ECIDC later created the Lifetime Achievement Award to honor those near retirement for their lifelong endeavors and good deeds. This year, ECIDC has created an additional award, the Outstanding Leadership in Community & Economic Development Award, to honor one individual or group each year for their advancements in community and economic development. ECIDC is now accepting nominations for each of these awards. To nominate an individual, business, or organization, please click here to reach the online criteria and form. Nominations are due on Monday, March 8, 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Funding Forefront

The gimmicks surrounding free money are thick these days, especially after the ARRA. View a great website leading individuals and small businesses to reputable sites and legit opportunities. Also gain access to a report identifying several national foundations and the funding opportunities they offer.

Alternative Energy Projects in East Central Illinois

East Central Illinois has many resources and attributes that make it a key location for many alternative energy projects, whether that be biodiesel or ethanol production, wind, energy, or geothermal energy production, or carbon capture coal gasification. Many may be aware of these projects while others might not, but here a few of those projects will be shared. This is not a complete listing of projects and would enjoy any submissions to be included:

FutureGen Update
The FutureGen facility in Mattoon, Ill. will be the first of its kind, low-emissions coal power plant, testing and proving coal gasification and carbon capture and sequestration technology in a single, 275 megawatt commercial-scale facility. The public-private partnership project will initially capture at least 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions with the goal of capturing 90 percent in the first years of operation.

On September 1, 2009 the FutureGen Alliance and the U.S. Department of Energy signed a Cooperative Agreement allowing for the continued development of the FutureGen plant in Mattoon.

“Today marks another milestone in the development of FutureGen. This agreement
clearly signals our shared interest in realizing the potential of generating clean energy in Illinois,” said Mudd. “This milestone has been achieved thanks to the important support we continue to receive from champions like Undersecretary Johnson, Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin and countless state and local officials whose contributions have helped push this important project forward, as well as the continued commitment of the Alliance member companies.”

The $17.3 million shared-cost Cooperative Agreement covers preliminary design
activities through the end of 2009 in support of the long-term project. Under the Agreement, the Alliance will work with DOE and other partners to continue electric grid interconnect studies, work on securing environmental permits, define alliance operational activities and update plant design and project cost estimates. Following these activities, the Alliance and DOE will make a decision on taking the project forward to final design and construction in early 2010.

“This signifies a new beginning for our coordinated efforts to bring FutureGen to Illinois and underscores the commitment of all involved to making this project a reality. We will continue to do all we can on the state level to ensure this first-of-its-kind facility is built in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley. ”

Currently, the State of Illinois and the FutureGen Alliance are working on an agreement where the State would purchase the power generated by the FutureGen plant.

(Information for this article was provided by an official press release issued by the FutureGen Alliance on September 1, 2009 and Anthony Pleasant, Vice President of Coles Together)

Taylorville Energy Center Update
ORLANDO, Florida – November 9, 2009 – Siemens Energy, Inc. has been chosen to provide the coal gasification technology for the Taylorville Energy Center (TEC), the 730-megawatt (gross) advanced clean coal generating plant being developed near Taylorville, Ill., the company announced today.

The Taylorville Energy Center (TEC) will be one of the nation’s first commercial-scale, coal gasification plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) capability.

Tenaska, managing partner for the $3.5 billion project, has signed equipment contracts and licensing agreements with Siemens for four gasifiers that will convert Illinois coal into substitute natural gas. The gas will be used for electricity generation or fed into the interstate natural gas pipeline system.

TEC's integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) technology also will capture and provide storage for at least 50 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that would otherwise enter the atmosphere.

"Siemens is pleased to have been chosen to support Tenaska’s goal of employing Illinois coal to provide reliable electricity in an environmentally clean manner," said Michael Suess, CEO of the Fossil Power Generation Division of Siemens Energy.

"By capturing and storing at least 50 percent of the CO2 it produces, TEC will have emissions comparable to a natural gas-fueled plant. Achieving such a dramatic reduction in emissions by a coal-fed plant is a vital step in the global effort to combat climate change," he said. "Siemens is glad to be a major contributor to this important breakthrough."

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has supported the TEC by choosing Tenaska to proceed into the term sheet negotiation phase under the DOE Loan Guarantee Program. Upon completion of due diligence and negotiation of the termsheet and guarantee documentation, the Taylorville project expects to receive a federal government guarantee of its debt of up to $2.579 billion, depending on the final project costs and capital structure, which will greatly reduce financing costs.

About Tenaska
Tenaska has developed approximately 9,000 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity across the United States. Tenaska's affiliates operate and manage eight power plants in six states totaling more than 6,700 MW of generating capacity owned in partnership with other companies. Tenaska Capital Management, an affiliate, provides management services for standalone private equity funds, with more than $4 billion in assets, including nine power plants (with approximately 5,400 MW of capacity), natural gas assets, and transmission infrastructure construction and maintenance operations.

Tenaska is applying proven pre and post combustion technologies on a commercial scale in its two environmentally friendly clean coal projects. Taylorville Energy Center in Taylorville, Ill., incorporating coal gasification, combined-cycle and CO2 capture and sequestration technology, will be among the first of its kind in the nation. Trailblazer Energy Center in Nolan County, Texas, is expected to be the first commercial scale, conventional coal-fueled power plant in the world to capture a significant portion of its CO2 after combustion. This plant’s success would demonstrate how existing plants in the U.S. and China could be retrofitted immediately and cost-effectively with this carbon-reducing technology. In 2008, Tenaska was listed in benchmarking studies by the Natural Resources Defense Council as having the best fleet-wide record in the United States for controlling emissions of CO2 and one of the top performing companies for controlling emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. For more information about Tenaska, visit

About Christian County Generation, LLC
Christian County Generation, L.L.C, a joint venture of Omaha-based independent power developer Tenaska and Louisville, Ky.-based MDL Holding Co., LLC. is developing the Taylorville Energy Center (TEC). TEC will be the first power plant in the state to incorporate coal gasification, combined-cycle and CO2 capture and storage technology, making it among the most environmentally-responsible, commercially-sized coal plants in the world. For more information about the Taylorville Energy Center, visit
Media Contacts:
Monika Wood, Siemens Energy, Inc. (407) 736-4197,
Jana Martin, Tenaska (402) 691-9595,

Crawford County is Home to an Existing Ethanol Facility
Lincolnland Agri-Energy, LLC was constructed in 2003 and 2004 and began ethanol production on July 12, 2004. The plant produces approximately 48 million gallons of ethanol, 144,000 tons of high protein DDGs (distiller’s grains for livestock feed), and 1.3 million gallons of corn oil each year. Ethanol is sold to gasoline blenders as a lower cost, cleaner burning blend component, and DDGs are sold to a number of different livestock feed suppliers to be included in the rations for cattle, hog, and poultry industries. Corn oil is also utilized by the livestock feed producers as a high quality feed component and by bio-diesel producers who can process corn oil into diesel fuel.

The plant is currently undergoing an expansion project for additional fermentation capacity, which will help improve plant efficiency by increasing the ethanol yield per bushel of corn processed. The company maintains 38 full time employees and utilizes local contractors for a variety of services to the plant. Local farmers benefit from the company, which purchases corn directly from growers at a very competitive price.

Lake Land College Manufacturing Reliability Institute

On April 23, the Center for Business & Industry at Lake Land College launched the regional Manufacturing Reliability Institute. The Institute was developed to meet the needs of businesses in the areas of maintenance reliability, overall equipment effectiveness, root cause analysis, technical skills training and leadership for maintenance and manufacturing professionals.

During the Institute launch, participants heard presentations on achieving World Class Reliability from featured speakers Gary Pelini, a 40 year veteran of Honda, and Kevin Lewton, Senior Maintenance and Reliability Manager of MetDemand.

After the presentations, participants toured the $1 million dollar manufacturing skills lab. The Manufacturing Reliability Institute is housed in the Workforce Development Center at 305 Richmond Avenue East in Mattoon, Illinois.

Future programs to be presented by the Institute include: Achieving Reliable Plant Capacity, Building a Business Case for Reliability, Preventive and Predictive Maintenance, Maintenance Manager Training Series, Root Cause Analysis, Project Management and Maintenance Planning and Scheduling.

For additional information call (217) 234-5218.

Got Skilled Labor?...or Should I Say Got Skilled Labor for the Industry You're Trying to Attract?

I just read a recent article on Area Development Online and I decided I wanted to share this information with all of you. I know that the topic of skilled workforce is one of relevance, especially to our rural communities, but when we say skilled what really are we referring to and how important is it to long-term economic success?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SB 43 Update

Senate Bill (SB) 43 seeks to further expand the scope of Prevailing Wage Laws in Illinois Enterprise Zones (EZ) and Tax Increment Finance Districts (TIFs).
This bill is very much alive and well in the Illinois House of Representatives. A meeting which included legislators, as well as proponents and opponents of the bill, was held late in the day on Tuesday, October 13. There were no specific outcomes, but labor representatives are to work on further draft language for consideration.
This bill will most likely not come up for a vote during the Fall Veto Session – October 14-16 and October 28-30; however, things change quickly in Springfield, so we are asking that during the next two weeks you remind your legislators, specifically your state representatives, why economic developers oppose this bill.

• Insurance of compliance of this legislation would be extremely onerous and expensive – to both the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) and any local not-for-profit or governmental entity charged with tracking which businesses need to comply with this expansion of the Prevailing Wage Act. As written, businesses that are the recipients of tax credits available as benefits by virtue of being located in an EZ, would have to pay prevailing wage on construction projects, even if no other benefit was realized. Local Enterprise Zone officials would have no knowledge of this and other like benefits having been received, so the burden would fall to IDOL, many times after construction projects had been completed.
• Enterprise Zones were created to benefit disadvantaged areas which had experienced economic distress. Any further stipulations on project requirements which increases paperwork and/or costs will negate benefits, meaning projects which may have located there may well happen across the street, across town or in another state. Illinois employers, including many minority and women employers, will be unable to take full advantage of tools put in place by the state to help them succeed.
• SB 43 is likely to increase the construction costs of primarily, privately funded projects. Based on past project experience, corporate site selection consultants estimate that, if enacted, SB 43 would mean increases to the cost of labor used for the project, resulting in total local project cost increases of 10 to 15 percent and creating another reason for businesses and developers not to invest in Illinois.
Please note: When figuring projected increases in costs to projects where prevailing wage labor is utilized, the proponents of this legislation use formulas which include all costs related to a project, including non-site specific costs such as machinery and equipment, engineering and other soft costs that would apply to a project, no matter where it is located. These numbers do not truly reflect increases or decreases in project expenditures due to local/state influences.
• SB43 is anticipated to result in millions of dollars of increased contractor wages and benefits for normal maintenance projects completed by businesses located in Enterprise Zones.
• SB43 will expand the prevailing wage law to include not only the traditional definition of public works projects, but also projects in Enterprise Zones and TIF’s that are primarily financed from private sources. This is dramatically different from the original purpose of the Prevailing Wage Act which applied to “public works” such as those completed for schools, municipalities, and local and state road projects.

Proposed amendatory changes to Senate Bill 43 continue to not address concerns of local economic developers, businesses or other investors in the state of Illinois.

The press release is written and out the what?

The following piece was written by Stacy Jones, Senior Project Director for Shoestring Creative Group and published in their e-newsletter sent October 14, 2009

Let's say for the sake of argument that you follow the best practices in media relations. You have utilized a great press kit, developed relationships with journalists, have a newsworthy story and have sent your release to targeted media contacts. What should you do now?

If your answer is to cross your fingers and hope your release is published, you aren't unlike many in the nonprofit world (or the for-profit world for that matter).

The truth is, there is more you can do:

Follow up. It's best when following up by phone to make sure the journalist you are calling is not on deadline and has the time to speak to you. Ask this first and get it out of the way. Provided they have time to speak to you, don't ask if they plan to run the story. Call instead and reference the release you sent, offer up additional information not provided in the release or another potential angle to the story. Create dialogue and listen to what the reporter tells you they might need to run your story and why if they don't plan on running it. Be courteous and gracious if your story is rejected and know that you can find more newsworthy items to send at another time. Remember to prepare in advance of the call and know what you plan to say.

Find another angle. Maybe you find a few media outlets rejected your initial release. If it's not time sensitive, take the time to rework the release and see what other newsworthy items you can find within the same story. A traditional news release might not be the answer. Utilizing the same idea, rework the content to make it a longer feature article or see if the information might be a local angle to a broader national story. Keeping your information newsworthy is one of the most important keys in gaining media coverage.

Send the release to staff (and other stakeholders). This is a great way highlight your work and increases the morale and good feelings of your staff. Keeping your whole organization engaged and involved is a critical marketing tool. They are the organization's most valued ambassadors and should be kept "in the loop" on happenings at the organization.

Post it to your website and blog. Hopefully, you already have a section on your website for current news. Make sure, whether you are published in traditional media or not, that you publish your releases on your website. Direct people to the news page rather than the home page so they don't have to "dig" to read the article. Links to other sources where the release has been published are also a good idea. Even if you post this to your website, also post it to your blog. Your blog is a great place to provide more details not already in the release and post photos if available.Use social networking. Utilize social-networking tools to spread the word about your current news.

From Facebook to Linked In and Twitter, you can provide links back to your organizational website's news page or directly to the media where your release has been published. This is a great marketing tool to highlight your organization and your news.

Don't just send your release and hope for news coverage. Follow a few simple steps to ensure that your news remains front and center with your valued audiences.
Stacy Jones is a nonprofit marketing consultant based in Troy, N.Y., and a Shoestring Creative Group Network Affiliate. Stacy can be reached at or 1-888-835-6236.