Archive for December, 2016

Human Services: Developmental Disabilities

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Department of Human Services (IDHS) director responds to reports. In the wake of an investigative-report series published by the Chicago Tribune that uncovered serious problems in some Illinois group homes for the developmentally disabled (DD) population, the General Assembly convened a joint committee to hold a hearing on the issue. More than 1,300 cases of abuse and neglect were uncovered by the series of news stories. Meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, the committee heard from agency Director James Dimas, who described work being done by him and his top aides to understand the size of the scandal and improve enforcement of living conditions in Illinois DD group homes.

IDHS is required, under law, to supervise 3,000 licensed private-sector DD group homes throughout Illinois. These homes shelter approximately 12,000 persons with intellectual and developmental challenges, often in an extended-family setting. The treatment provided to persons in this category ranges from thoughtful, high-quality care to abuse and neglect. In some cases, DD group home caregivers are overwhelmed by the challenges of taking care of persons with two or more separately diagnosed disabilities.

A major finding by the Tribune was that many of the cases of abuse and neglect that had taken place since July 2011 had been flagged in some way or another by IDHS oversight, but that many of the investigative files on these cases had been hidden, concealed, or even legally sealed. A key pledge made by Director Dimas this week was that the Department will create a new infrastructure of electronic transparency to increase access to information on the standing of each group home. The transparency infrastructure will include an Internet-based public report card to detail the status of many State investigations based upon allegations of abuse and neglect. The report cards will include evaluations of many Illinois DD group homes. In another pledge, Director Dimas stated that Illinois group homes for adults with disabilities will face stricter standards for establishing and maintaining licensure.

Budget: FY17

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

As year-end deadline approaches, talks are suspended. Many facets of state spending are moving towards limbo with the approach of New Year’s Eve. Dec. 31 is the expiration date for the so-called “stopgap budget” that is authorizing much of the State’s spending activities during the final two quarters of calendar year 2016. The “stopgap budget,” which was enacted in summer 2016, was meant to serve as a bridge to cover the first half of the 2017 fiscal year while budget negotiations took place. However, high-level budget talks have been suspended. Governor Bruce Rauner stated on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that based on his face-to-face contacts with leading Democrats, negotiations are not being productive at this time.

Under the complex current Illinois budget situation, not all areas of State spending are tied to the so-called “stopgap budget.” Significant FY17 spending programs, such as Medicaid and pay for state employees, are tied to court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations. Other spending programs are being carried out through Dec. 31 in line with the so-called stopgap budget. Still other areas are not covered by any current appropriation at all, and monies for these programs are not being spent. Many entities that are not receiving needed state funding, such as community colleges and offices that carry out many social programs, are begging for relief.

Facts For Features The 2016 Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016


The 2016 Holiday Season


This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.

Rush to the Stores

$23.8 billion

The estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2015. A decrease of $0.4 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey



The estimated percentage of total 2015 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For bookstores, the estimated percentage was 12.4 percent.


The estimated increase in the end-of-month inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) between August and November 2015.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey

$55.7 billion

The estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2015 — the highest estimated total for any month last year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey (NAICS 4541)
U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey (NAICS 45411)

$27.1 billion

The fourth quarter 2015 after-tax profits for all retail trade corporations with assets of $50.0 million and over, up from $18.3 billion in the third quarter of 2015.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Quarterly Financial Report

Click here for PDF.


Christmas Tree Decorations

$1.1 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2016. Imports from China led the way with 92.0 percent of the total imports of Christmas tree ornaments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Trade Statistics
USA Trade Online

$346.0 million

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree lights from China between January and September 2016. Christmas tree lights imported from China accounted for 87.0 percent of the total imports for that product.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Trade Statistics
USA Trade Online

Where Toys Are Made


The number of locations nationwide that primarily produced dolls, toys and games in 2014, an increase of 15 locations from 2013 (545); they employed 6,215 workers in the pay period including March 12, a decrease of 323 employees from 2013 (6,538). California led the nation with 93 establishments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 County Business Patterns

Holiday Names

Some names of places associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 14,176), and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,610). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,666); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,474); North Pole, Alaska (2,189); Noel, Mo. (1,824); and — if you know about reindeer — Dasher, Ga. (963), and Rudolph, Wis. (432). There is also Unity, N.H. (1,603), and Peace, N.D. (28).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates


23.6 million

The estimated number of young domestic turkeys hatched during September of this year in the United States, up 21.0 percent from September 2015.
Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service

$392.0 million

The value of U.S. imports of tapered candles in 2015. Most of these came from Vietnam, representing more than 35.0 percent of America’s imported tapered candles, followed by Canada with 24.0 percent. Many of these candles are lit during Diwali (Nov. 11), Hanukkah (Dec. 6-14) and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) celebrations.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Trade Statistics
USA Trade Online

11 Candidates Running for Fox Valley Park District Board in 2017

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Eleven residents will be vying for a total of seven seats on the Fox Valley Park District Board of Commissioners in the April 4 elections.

They will be the first candidates on the ballot in the Park District’s 70-year existence. Since its formation in 1947, state law called for Park Board members to be appointed by the Kane County Board chairman, as opposed to being elected, as most other park boards are throughout the state.

As the second largest Park District in Illinois, Fox Valley serves 233,000 residents in Aurora, North Aurora and Montgomery, covering four counties – Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will – encompassing 65 square miles.

The new state law, through legislation sponsored by retired Kane County Board chairman Karen McConnaughay, creates three geographic districts, with two elected from each district. A seventh member is elected at-large.

The 1st District includes the entire west side of the Fox River, from the North Aurora village limits on the north to the Montgomery limits in Kendall County to the south. Its western limit is the city limits for North Aurora, Aurora and Montgomery, and the eastern limit is the Fox River.

The 2nd District has a western limit of the Fox River, running south to the Kendall County line, running east to the DuPage-Kane county line, north to the railroad tracks, west to Farnsworth, north to Indian Trail and west on Indian Trail to the river.

The 3rd District runs from the North Aurora village limits and the Aurora city limits on the north to the Aurora city limits in Will County to the south. The eastern edge runs to the Aurora city limits on the east, in DuPage County, at some points going as far as Route 59. Its western limit is the Fox River running south to Indian Trail, where it turns west along Indian Trail to Farnsworth Ave., south to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks, east to the DuPage-Kane County line, running along the boundary with the 2nd District.

Here are the candidates who filed petitions, according to their District jurisdiction:

1st District: Charles Anderson, Aurora; Matt Hicks, Jr., Aurora.

2nd District: LuAnne Kelsey, Montgomery; Elizabeth “Beth” Waller, Montgomery; Jerry Butler, Aurora; Mary Ann Cummings, Aurora.

3rd District: Giovanni Santana, Aurora; Holly Scholz, Aurora; Roger Schnorr, Aurora; Cynthia G. Penne, Aurora.

At-Large: Alexander G. Alexandrou, Aurora.


The elected Board will be seated on May 1, 2017, at which time a lottery drawing will take place to determine length of terms, which will be staggered. Initially, four Board members will serve four-year terms, and three Board members will serve two-year terms.

Family New Year’s Eve Party Starts Celebration Early for Kids

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Families and children can start their New Year’s Eve activities early with a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Vaughan Athletic Center.

The Family New Year’s Eve Party will ring in 2017 with a variety of festivities. Kids and adults can get energetic while climbing and bouncing on giant inflatables, playing interactive games, competing in hula hoop contests and dancing to the latest tunes with a live DJ.

Popular features also include the “Active Toddler Zone,” a “Meet-and-Greet” with favorite characters including Spider-Man, Tinkerbell, Storm Trooper, Elsa, Cinderella and others and the traditional New Year’s countdown featuring a colossal balloon drop at noon.

“This event gives kids their own celebration,” said youth programs supervisor Stevie Michell. “It’s a great way for families and friends to enjoy a New Year’s party that’s convenient and fun for everybody.”

Guests are encouraged to pre-register by noon on Dec. 30 to guarantee admission, party favors, activities and snack. Advance tickets are $8 per person (ages 2 and up) and available online. Children under 2 are free. Day-of registration is $11 per person, but the event often sells out; party favors and snacks are not guaranteed for those who register on event day.

For more information, call the Vaughan Athletic Center at 630-907-9600 and follow updates on the Vaughan Center’s Facebook page.

Aurora Chamber News: The Year Ahead

Monday, December 19th, 2016
December 19, 2016
In This Issue


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95.9 The River
Above Board Indoor Environmental
Accurate Personnel
Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.
Aurora Bank & Trust
Aurora University
Baird & Warner – Holli Thurston
BMO Harris – Bilter Rd.
BMO Harris – Eola Rd.
BMO Harris – Lake St.
BMO Harris – N. Farnsworth Ave.
BMO Harris – W. Indian Trail
Caterpillar, Inc.
Copy King Office Solutions, Inc.
Dolan & Murphy
Downtown Auroran Magazine
Endiro Coffee
Ice Miller LLP
Kluber Architects & Engineers
Konen Insurance Agency
Magnetrol International, Incorporated
Mitutoyo America Corporation
Mooney & Thomas P.C.
Old Second National Bank
Painters District Council 30
Paramount Arts Centre
Pilmer Real Estate
Pipe Fitters Local 597
Plum Landing Retirement Community
Presence Mercy Medical Center
R.C. Wegman Construction Company
Rasmussen College
Rich Harvest Farms
Rush-Copley Medical Center
S&S Metal Recyclers II
SmithAmundsen, LLC
State Farm Insurance Companies
Steffes & Associates Language and Translation (SALT)
Two Brothers Roundhouse
Valley Fastener Group, LLC
The Voice
Waubonsee Community College
Weldstar Company

Welcome New Members

The Joint-Orchard Road
Coreen Cammarano
1480 Orchard Road, Aurora 60506
(630) 907-9097


Contact Us

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



What You Need to Know: IDES
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Meyer Ballroom, North Island Center, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora

Jeff Mays, director of Illinois Department of Employment Security, will share positive changes coming to IDES that will affect employers of all sizes:

• GenTax-an accessible snapshot perspective of what they are required to pay.
• SIDES-Sides is a free system for protesting unemployment insurance claims and submitting Notices of Claims electronically. Fast, secure and efficient.
• Fighting Fraud-our OATS program.
• Getting job seekers back to work…resume requirements etc.
• Changing the agency from Unemployment to Employment

Exciting changes ahead which will ultimately benefit the employers in our State.

Mayoral Candidates’ Forum
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Aurora Public Library, 101 South River Street, Aurora
Candidates Invited: Linda Chapa LaVia, Richard E. Guzman, Richard C. Irvin and Michael B. Saville

Presented in collaboration by the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, Aurora Public Library, Fox Valley PAC, Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Your participation matters! If you are not already registered to vote or if you need to update your information on file with your voter registration, this is a great time to do so. Visit for deadlines, information, and polling locations.

Coffee & Connections
Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 8:30 a.m.
Painters District Council #30, 1905 Sequoia Drive, Aurora

This event provides business connections, an introduction to key leaders in the Chamber, upcoming chamber events and an opportunity to learn how you can maximize Your Chamber Membership. January is sponsored by Eye Boutique.

Fox Valley Networking Professionals
Thursday, January 26, 2017, 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Pomegranate Restaurant, 55 S. Commons Drive, Aurora

Start 2017 making great connections! Get your introduction ready! Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce Fox Valley Networking Professionals is an open networking group that creates a positive atmosphere of collaboration, connection, introduction, business education and more.

All attendees will introduce themselves, share business cards and have open networking time before breakfast is served. Pre-registration is highly recommended. Breakfast included with registration.

Economic Pulse 2017
Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 11:30 a.m.
Stonebridge Country Club, 2705 Stonebridge Blvd., Aurora

On Wednesday, January 25, the Aurora Regional Chamber will reveal the results of the 2017 Aurora Regional Economic Pulse Survey. The survey link has been shared with local businesses.

In partnership with our sponsors – Old Second Bank, Invest Aurora, and Dolan & Murphy – and community supporters, the results will be used to provide a stronger support system for business owners, entrepreneurs, and employers in the great Aurora region.

Premier Members
Premier Members
Events for Members
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 8:00 a.m.
Meyer Ballroom, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora

Mayoral Candidates’ Forum
Thursday, Jan. 12, 7:00 p.m.
Santori Library 101 S. River St. Aurora

Coffee & Connections Networking
Tuesday, Jan 17, 8:30 a.m.
Painters District No.30, 1905 Sequoia Drive, Aurora

Did You Know?
Did you know you updating your representatives and their contact info from your business in your profile page is vital to ensure all your representatives are receiving Chamber communications? Please take a quick look to ensure everyone is getting our updates. If you have any questions about your login, please contact Reba Osborne, director of membership, at (630) 256-3184.
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:

Budget: FY17

Economy: Ill. COGFA Report

General Assembly: 2017 Schedule

General Assembly: New Members

General Assembly: House, Senate Calendars Released

Taxes: Lame-Duck Increases

Pensions: Chicago

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

Health Care: Illinois Hospitals

Blackberry Farm Holiday Express Lights Up December Weekends

Holiday Assistance Program Begins; Can You Assist?

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


Budget: FY17

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Leaders meetings do not generate budget agreement. With the “stopgap” six-month budget for the first half of FY17 scheduled to expire on December 31, pressure is being placed on key Illinois officials to develop a budget agreement. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner, and other leaders were meeting almost daily in Chicago. Key issues include cash flow for State spending areas covered in the “stopgap” budget. Renewed appropriations are required if these areas are to get funding in January 2017 and following months. However, no agreement has yet been reached.

Pressure for a budget deal is being driven by the deteriorating financial condition of the State. The Comptroller’s office indicated that Illinois had, as of Tuesday, December 6, piled up a backlog of unpaid bills totaling more than $10.6 billion. These include both bills that are actually in the Comptroller’s office awaiting payment and bills that are in the various State agencies and have not yet been forwarded to the Comptroller.

Economy: Ill. COGFA Report

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

COGFA report shows Illinois earns mixed scores on various economic variables. The report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), “Illinois’ National Rankings – 2016”, was released on Thursday, December 8. The December report looks at a variety of nonpartisan and nongovernmental measuring sticks that are used to gauge Illinois’ tax rates, tax revenues, government spending, employment trends, and business climate when compared with other U.S. states.

To summarize, the COGFA report confirms data from a wide variety of other sources. It draws a picture of extremely slow, underperforming job growth in Illinois relative to other states. As of October 2016, Illinois stands 43rd among the 50 states in terms of unemployment rates (5.6% as opposed to the national rate of 4.9%). This slow job growth, which has left Illinois with fewer nonfarm payroll jobs than were supported by Illinois employers sixteen years ago in 2000, has encouraged young Illinois residents to consider leaving the Land of Lincoln in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Illinois is 39th among the 50 states in terms of its job recovery/job growth following the so-called “” boom of the late 1990s. Our state ranks poorly (relative to other U.S. states) in terms of new jobs created over the past year, five-year period, ten-year period, and twenty-year period. Major changes in Illinois policy will be necessary to counter this trend.

Unfortunately, the report does not suggest easy or obvious answers to this policy dilemma. In particular, a picture of Illinois as a golden state for wasteful taxing and spending is muddied by this report. In 2015, Illinois extracted 6.2% of its residents’ $636.3 billion in personal income from their pockets in the form of more than $39.5 billion in state taxes, marking Illinois 24th in the nation in terms of state government tax revenue as a percentage of state personal income – close to the middle of the 50 states. Illinois’ reality as a high-tax state is closely tied to our exceptionally burdensome structure of local “home rule” and property taxes. These local levies are charged and collected by local governments and school districts, not the State of Illinois. This indicates that necessary policy changes will have to include actions affecting all facets of government here in Illinois.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) is the nonpartisan budget watchdog office of the General Assembly. It monitors data points and trends, including economic variables, to guide the State Legislature in its budget and policy decisions.



General Assembly: 2017 Schedule

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Illinois House posts schedule for 2017 spring session. The newly-elected and re-elected members of the Illinois House will convene in Springfield on Wednesday, January 11, to take the oath of office. House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office has posted a session calendar for the House to follow when its members introduce new bills next spring and debate them in committee and on the floor. The House will also consider bills sent over from the state Senate. The spring session is scheduled to end on Wednesday, May 31.

In addition to the session work of the new 100th General Assembly, the 99th General Assembly may well have a few last things to do in January. Two “lame duck” session days have been posted on the schedule for Monday, January 9, and Tuesday, January 10. It is not yet known for what purposes these days will be used.

General Assembly: New Members

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Illinois House Republican Caucus welcomes 15 new members. Fifteen Republicans who were not on the November 2014 ballot will be taking their oaths of office in January 2017 as members of the 100th General Assembly. Of these new members, five took their seats in the soon-to-be-completed 99th General Assembly as appointees following the departures of their predecessors. All five of them were elected last month to full terms in their own right. These five are:

  • Avery Bourne (95th District, south-central Illinois). Representative Bourne is a law student and a specialist in issues of agriculture and rural law enforcement. She serves on Illinois House committees that deal with issues involving agriculture, consumers, counties, transportation, vehicle safety, and veterans.
  • Tim Butler (87th District, Springfield area). Representative Butler is an experienced hand at constituent issues from his services as district chief of staff to two members of the U.S. Congress. He serves on House committees that deal with issues involving the environment, tourism, roads, and vehicle safety.
  • David Olsen (81st District, central DuPage County). Representative Olsen is a skilled professional in financial investing and trading. He serves on House committees that deal with issues involving community colleges, schools, criminal law, public utilities, and renewable energy.
  • David Welter (75th District, northeastern Illinois). Representative Welter is the former chairman of the Grundy County Board. He serves on House committees that deal with issues involving agriculture, appropriations/public safety, schools, charter schools, energy, criminal law, restorative justice, and special needs services.
  • Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (99th District, Springfield area). Representative Wojcicki Jimenez is a former journalist and Statehouse spokesperson. She serves on House committees that deal with issues involving agriculture, State universities, business and occupational licenses, economic development, and international trade and commerce.

In addition to these five now-experienced new members with committee assignments, ten completely new House Republican members – representing districts from McHenry County on the Wisconsin border to Williamson County in far southern Illinois – will ”hit the ground running” over the next few weeks as they celebrate their election to the Illinois House of Representatives.