Bill Wheelhouse

Anchor/ Economy Blog
Flickr/Images_of_money

The Springfield area is mirroring national statistics on home sales.     

The latest monthly report from the Illinois Association of Realtors shows February home sales in Sangamon county totaled 153. That is an increase of 4.1% over the same time last year.  Those numbers fall in line with national statistics showing an increase of 4.7% in existing homes.

Illinois's numbers overall weren't as good. Sales were by 1.7% statewide.

In Sangamon County, the median home price was nearly $2,000 lower then a year ago. The median price in Sangamon County was $116,900.

Aaron Schock
Aaron Schock / Instagram

Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock resigned this week amid questions about his spending of taxpayer money. When the news broke, political reporter Chris Kaergard of the Peoria Journal Star was in the Republican's Downton Abbey-inspired office, waiting for a previously scheduled interview.

The Kraft Foods Group is recalling nearly 250,000 boxes of its macaroni and cheese dinner.  The recall comes after metal was found in some packages.

The recalled product is limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the Original flavor of boxed dinner with the “Best When Used By” dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code “C2” directly below the date on each individual box. The “C2” refers to a specific production line on which the affected product was made.

beatlesbooks.com

On this week's Business Report Tim Landis tells us what's filling up some of the warehouse space at the old Capitol Records facility in Jacksonville.  Also a major church construction project is underway and a century old Springfield firm closes.

Republican state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington
WUIS/Illinois Issues

State Senator Bill Brady says he will not be among the Republicans seeking Schock's Congressional seat. In a statement Wednesday he said he has decided to remain in the State Senate because of his business interests and desire to help Governor Rauner make changes.

He mentioned the names of four potential candidates for the job including his brother Ed Brady, Representative Dan Brady (no relation) & Senators Darin LaHood and Jason Barickman.

The Governor will set a date for the special election.

Mayors from five Illinois cities say renovation of historic structures could be at risk if a key tax break isn't preserved.  Rockford Register Star and the Peoria Journal Star says mayors of Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria and Rockford want to see the 25 percent River Edge Historic Tax Credit renewed for another five years.  

The credit involves projects totaling tens of millions of dollars.  The Mayors say jobs and income taxes are created because of the program.

neatorama.com

A G.I. Joe convention is coming to Springfield.   We discuss it on this week's WUIS/SJR Business Report with Tim Landis.

Governor Bruce Rauner has named an official with the U.S. State Department to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections.

A statement Monday from the Governor's office says Rauner selected 54 year old Donald Stolworthy to head Corrections.

According to the release from the Governor, Stolworthy has 15 years of corrections experience.  He currently works at the State Department in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs where he assesses foreign prison systems.

I am using 300,000 as the measurement to watch for monthly job creation in the United States.    Mainly because a guy who appeared smart and seemed to back it up said last fall that's what the nation needs to average to kick the economy into the next year.

ilcourtclerks.org

After 19 years as the Sangamon County Circuit Clerk, Tony Libri is stepping down at the end of the month.

Libri, who also previously served as Sangamon County Auditor before becoming Circuit Clerk and made an unsuccessful run for Springfield mayor, did not give a reason for his retirement.  A statement says he will be able to spend more time with his family.

The Sangamon County Board will appoint a new circuit clerk to fulfill the remainder of Libri's term.  That post will then be up for election in 2016.

Amtrak

Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse chat about work on high speed rail and possible funding cuts for Amtrak in Illinois.

School is canceled today in:

Springfield Schools

Rochester

Ball-Chatham

New Berlin

Pleasant Plains

Tri-City

Auburn

Edinburg

Petersburg-PORTA

Athens

Jacksonville

Greenview

Beardstown

A-C Central

Triopia

Taylorville

Lincoln Land Community College delaying opening until 10 a.m. at all campuses

Benedictine University delaying opening until 10 a.m.

Springfield Mass Transit District has suspended bus service.

The Illinois Attorney General released a list of the top ten consumer complaints.   The Federal Trade Commission has also released its list.    The number of complaints to the Feds:

List of consumer complaints to Federal Trade Commission CLICK TO ENLARGE. Edit | Remove

The Illinois Attorney General's office is out with its annual top ten list of consumer complaints to A-G's office.

CATEGORY

# OF COMPLAINTS

1. Consumer Debt (mortgage lending, debt collections, credit cards)

3,655

2. Identity Theft (fraudulent credit cards and utility accounts, bank fraud)

2,617

3. Telecommunications (wireless service, local phone service, cable/satellite)

2,162

Strange as it seems, a volcano that erupted 200 years ago in Indonesia may have been a major factor leading to Illinois’ 1818 statehood.

200 years ago, the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora caused global climate change. It led to the creation of states in the midwestern United States, the book Frankenstein and deadly disease.  Bill Wheelhouse talked with Gillen D'Arcy Wood, author of the book Tambora: The Eruption That Changed The World:

The book is published by Princeton University Press.

Gillen D'Arcy Wood

What does a volcanic eruption in Indonesia 200 years ago have to do with Illinois?  In addition to killing 100,000 people and eventually leading to cholera outbreaks across the globe, that eruption may have led to Illinois becoming a state.

With the aim of spurring growth in Illinois' tech sector, Governor Bruce Rauner has created the Innovate Illinois Advisory Council.

A group of business leaders will hopefully bring new ideas to the table to help improve the climate for technology business growth in the state.

Co-chairs for the council are Laura Frerichs, director of the University of Illinois research park and Mark Glennon, a managing director of  the consulting firm Ninth Street Advisors.

The panel is to begin meeting this spring.

grainbelexpress.cleanline.com

A company that wants to build power lines to carry wind energy from Kansas to Illinois will be seeking regulators' permission this Spring.    Mark Lawler... the Director of Development for the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project says it is one of two the company is working on in Illinois.   He tells WUIS' Bill Wheelhouse the plan is to carry the wind energy  via direct current rather than traditional way of transmitting electricity:

waymarking.com

Tim Landis shares with us the planned expansion of the downtown historical district.   The expansion from the footprint of the Old State Capitol to more of the surrounding landscape will allow for tax breaks for developers.    Also discussed... repairs at the Executive Mansion and Third Street rail work could begin this year.

A Company proposing to run power lines through Illinois wants to be declared a utility.  Clean Line Energy Partners wants to build transmission lines to carry wind energy from the plains states to Illinois. 

If they are granted utility status, they would then have a shot at getting eminent domain powers to acquire land along the route of the so called "Grain Belt Express" in west central and southern Illinois.   The company's Mark Lawler says while they'd prefer to acquire the land  in negotiations, eminent domain helps with the planning:

Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

Illinois' top two Republicans say they're disappointed the Federal government has halted funding for the future gen project in the region.

Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk released a statement on the public-private coal project at Meredosia. 

They say the Fed's decision will block advancements in  so called "clean coal" efforts and bringing jobs to the region.   The two say they won't give up on the technology and bringing new jobs to the state.

The state's business organizations are making sure lawmakers know they are opposed to a hike in minimum wage (Lawmakers probably probably knew where the groups stand on this one).

A Senate committee approved a measure that would increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour by the end of the decade.

The state's retailers says a minimum wage hike will keep people out of jobs and keep Illinois at a disadvantage.

This measure is more early legislative session  political fodder than a real policy effort. It came on the same day the Governor's State of the State message

Portrait of Lincoln, 1864
Francis Bicknell Carpenter

Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse talk about this spring's Lincoln Funeral Re-enactment, Video Gambling in Springfield and solar incentives for residential and small business users.

Amanda Vinicky

...SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY...
 
  A WINTER WEATHER SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP IN THE SOUTHWEST
  STATES INTO SATURDAY AND LIFT NORTHEAST INTO THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY
  SUNDAY AFTERNOON. AS THE SYSTEM DEVELOPS...A MIX OF RAIN AND SNOW
  WILL MOVE INTO CENTRAL ILLINOIS SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING.
  DURING LATE SATURDAY EVENING AND OVERNIGHT THE PRECIPITATION WILL
  CHANGE OVER TO ALL SNOW. THE SNOW WILL BECOME MODERATE DURING THE
  OVERNIGHT HOURS...WITH 3 TO 4 INCHES OF ACCUMULATION POSSIBLE BY

The so called "right-to-work" discussion from Governor Bruce Rauner drew a lot of the attention this week, not only of media types, but also labor union types.    

It is sure to be a hot item in the negotiating mix.   But creating a tax on services whether it be a car repair, your tax preparation or hair cut is where Rauner continues to put PART of the focus of his budget efforts.   He has a big power point slide that says  ""Raising Taxes Alone Won't Work". Of course he's stressing budget cuts and fixing structural budget problems but raising taxes is in the mix.  

An industry trade group says that Illinois added 20,200 construction jobs from December, 2013 to December, 2014.  While people would like to attribute it to an improving job climate, it's probably just a better climate this time around.  Weather was a major factor in the job growth.  While attributing much of the the growth this winter over last year's exceptionally harsh winter,  the Associated General Contractors of America reports  the job growth came in 40 states and shows that construction firms are also more optimistic.

The number of passengers flying out of Springfield is on the upswing, pork belly related festival for downtown Springfield and opposition develops to transmission line project.  Bill Wheelhouse talks with Tim Landis on this weeks Business Report:

Severances and bonuses seem to be a way of life for Illinois colleges and universities.

College of DuPage officials have voted to approve a  $762,000 buyout package for the school's president when he retires next year.
 
 The board of trustees accepted the severance deal Thursday as part a four-page agreement regarding the early retirement of President Robert Breuder next March.

Downtown Springfield is going to make changes to its major summer events.   

The group says its doing away with it Taste of Downtown. 

Instead it will introduce the Downtown Bacon Throwdown in July.   The group is also planning to move the Old Capitol Blues and BBQ's Festival from August to early October.  

Hot weather has affected attendance, which put the  group in financial trouble this past year.

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