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What’s Inside 2009 Champaign County Community Profile
Welcome to Champaign County.......... 4
Unlimited Access................................ 14 Growing & Green.............................. 16
Relocation & Development
Bolstering the Downtown Core . ......... 7
Parkland College Rises to Meet Growth, Community Needs.... 17
Building an Urban Skyline.................... 7
Those Who Excel................................ 18
Now Open!.......................................... 8
Creativity in Curricula......................... 20
Expanding Selections for Students....... 8
Choices in Religious Education........... 23
Housing Options in Champaign County............................ 9
New Arts & Entertainment Magnet.... 11
Hope and Healing.............................. 24
Personal Finance................................. 12
Easy Access......................................... 26 Table of Contents
Centralized Services............................ 27 Agribusiness
The Commerce of Chemistry............. 28 Workforce & Business Services
Innovation Inspiration........................ 30
International Athletes......................... 46
Chamber Champions Job Seekers....... 31
“Play Ball!”......................................... 48
A Welcome Jolt................................... 34
Kids Get Their Kicks............................ 49 Gridiron Upgrades.............................. 50
Realizing Recreation for All................. 52
Bobcat of Champaign........................ 36
Award-Winning Parks Systems............ 53
Triad Shredding.................................. 37 Farm Credit Services........................... 37
Culture & Entertainment
Herff Jones.......................................... 38
Feasts for the Eyes, Ears and Soul....... 54
Coffee News....................................... 39
Arts Advocates.................................... 55
Swanson Roofing................................ 40 Carter’s Furniture................................ 41
Restaurant & Lodging Guide
Dining Delights.................................. 56 Technology
Be Our Guest...................................... 60
Tracking Elemental Fingerprints.......... 42 Supercomputing Central.................... 43
What Happens Here Changes the World.......................... 44
Index of Advertisers............................ 62 www.champaigncounty.org 3
Welcome to Building on Ample Resources Many stay for a lifetime, enriching the community; some receive or contribute to world-class teaching before moving on to influence different communities.
4 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Dear Reader: Our rich sense of history, which influences Champaign County today, ensures that, as a community, we have always been destined for success. Since 1833, when Champaign County was founded, it has been a welcoming guidepost on the Illinois prairie. In the 1850s, it was a stopping point for a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who frequently visited friends in Champaign and Urbana as he traveled the circuit from Springfield for the Eighth Judicial District. Throughout the years, Champaign County has continued to be both a destination and a stopping point. As home to the world-renowned University of Illinois, our community has attracted scientists and senators, teachers and tradespeople, Nobel Prize winners and many other notables. Many stay for a lifetime, enriching the community; some receive or contribute to world-class teaching before moving on to influence different communities. Regardless of the amount of time people spend here, they help develop a unique relationship between this region and the rest of the world. While many of our residents will not receive world accolades, they are the fiber of our community and the primary reason Champaign County is a great place to call home. What is it that draws and keeps people in Champaign County? In a phrase, itâ€™s â€œquality of life.â€? The 998 square miles of the county include the communities of Champaign, Urbana and Savoy, which make up the commercial hub of the county and its largest population center, with over 100,000 residents. In these tri-cities, homes for every family size, income level and lifestyle are available.
Bolstered by outlying areas that claim some of the world’s richest farmland, the county offers unique opportunities in agriculture and related businesses. The rural communities have attracted specialty businesses and sole proprietorships, as well as significant new residential growth. A vibrant business community encourages new commerce and industry. As the home of the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Champaign County is recognized as a center for computing and technology, attracting and retaining a diverse group of traditional and high-tech companies and becoming a leader in building the national and global information superhighway. An assortment of cultural resources and facilities abounds. From museums and performing arts centers to a planetarium and botanical gardens, the offerings are matched only by those in the nation’s largest metropolitan centers. Choices continue in education. Public, private and parochial schools strive for excellence in every aspect of staff, facilities, technology and curricula. Nationally and internationally recognized city and county park systems provide recreation for all ages. The spires of more than 100 churches rise above the Champaign County skyline, reflecting a variety of religious beliefs. Much of the area’s business growth is attributable to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Several high-tech firms are spin-offs of university research efforts. Even the area’s agricultural potential substantially benefits from the school’s ongoing crop experimentation, which includes cultivation of disease-resistant crop strains and development of precision farming methods and information systems. Recent building projects include the university’s South Research Park, the One Main building in downtown Champaign, the redevelopment of Lincoln Square Village in Urbana, the schools built by the Village of Tolono, the aquatic center in Urbana, and the new pork processing plant in Rantoul. These are all concrete examples of people and government working together to build for our future. The blending of these facets produces Champaign County’s unique qualities. The history of visitors and residents adding their substance to the area is evident in the many cultures present here, from turn-of-the-century German immigrants to more recent arrivals, including the large number of students, faculty and researchers from other parts of the globe. Champaign County has built on ample resources and, true to its history, it continues to be warm and welcoming, a comfortable mix of technology and tradition. The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce www.champaigncounty.org 5
Bolstering the Downtown Core
M2 Building Blends Commerce and Housing
the ground floor include BankChampaign and a new micro-brew restaurant. As the rebirth of downtown Champaign continues to attract shoppers, residents and businesses, M2 provides a place for them all to come together. “When you bring people together, you start to see exciting things happen — more jobs, high recruitment/retention rates for employers, nightlife and an overall increase in economic activity,” said Jon “Cody” Sokolski, chief executive officer of One Main Development. “Building a strong downtown core encourages a sense of community, improves and enhances quality of life, and creates new growth and energy for the entire city. It’s a key component to the city’s future growth and success.”
New Choices in Apartment Living The Campustown area, a neighborhood of shops and restaurants centered around Green Street, is where students meet friends for lunch, grab a cup of coffee or pick up Illinois gear on their way to the game. With the commercial boom, Campustown is coming to life with an influx of new residents.
309 Green At 24 stories, 309 Green is the city’s tallest building and one of the newest and most attractive housing options for U of I students. It has 110 fully furnished units, with both two- and four-bedroom options, plus deck parking on seven levels below the apartments. 309 Green is just three blocks from campus at the corner of Green and Third streets in the heart of Campustown. The project also offers an open-air swimming pool, a fitness center and a café lounge, flat-screen televisions and high-speed Internet.
Gregory Place East Completed in 2008, Gregory Place East sits just down the street from its twin, Gregory Place West. Located near the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, the building houses three floors of luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments. Gregory Place East is the home of the University of Illinois’ School of Social Work, a Provena Medical Group clinic and Sandella's Flatbread Café.
Burnham 310 On the northern edge of campus, Burnham 310 is the centerpiece of the new Burnham District, which spreads across four city blocks. One of the highlights of the development is the brand-new County Market grocery store at the corner of Fourth Street and Springfield Avenue. In addition to the store, the apartment building and retail shops, planning is in the works for townhouses and condos. Burnham 310 has 18 stories and 259 loftapartment units. Designed in a Chicago loft style, the units have 10-foot ceilings, designer kitchens and large windows for plenty of natural light. Amenities include a movie theater, free Wi-Fi lounges, complimentary weekday breakfast and a tanning bed. Each unit is fully furnished and includes a washer and dryer. The best part of living in Burnham 310 may be easy access to County Market, which focuses on organic foods and easy carry-out meals. www.champaigncounty.org 7
Relocation & Development
n 2002, the completion of the One Main building in downtown Champaign was a turning point in the area’s historic rebirth. The mixed-use building was a great success, bringing stylish urban living to downtown and spurring continued growth in the area. What could regional developer One Main Development do to follow it up? The company decided to embark on another project with an enormous impact on downtown living, and the result was M2. M2 is a nine-story building featuring commercial and residential space, as well as ground-floor retail, located on Neil Street, just across the street from One Main. M2 has nine floors, the top four of which are residential condos with open floor plans and impressive views. The building also has four floors of office space and the Enclave, a suite of executive offices where small business tenants share amenities like conference rooms, office equipment and a kitchen. Major retailers on
Building an Urban Skyline
Relocation & Development
Southeast Urbana Becomes Hot Spot “Now Open!” Just a few years ago, that phrase was almost unheard of on the streets of southeast Urbana. Filled with corn, beans and open fields, the acreage around the intersection of Windsor and Philo roads was anything but bustling. But business is booming, and new openings are growing frequent as recent development makes this area one of the newest hot spots for retail and dining. The Atkins Group, a local developer of residential neighborhoods and commercial space, got things brewing in 2000 with Stone Creek Commons, a small office park with room to grow at the southeast corner of Windsor and Philo roads. The development is home base for the Atkins Group, and tenants include Edward Jones, the American Oil Chemists’ Society and Coldwell Banker Devonshire Realty. Although tenants slowly continued to move in to the Commons, little else changed until 2008, when several projects popped up that encouraged rapid growth in the area. A new 208,000-square-foot Meijer store recently opened on the northeast corner, offering groceries, lawn and garden products, housewares, and a gas station. To the southeast of the Meijer store, two medical offices have opened on Windsor Road: the 8,000-square-foot Christie Clinic and the 68,000-square-foot Carle Clinic. Adjacent to the clinics, a day care center, built in 2004, completed a 14,209-square-foot expansion in 2007, adding classrooms, parking space and a new playground. With businesses moving into the area, the Atkins Group decided to add a retail component to its business park. The Pines at Stone Creek Commons is a neighborhood retail center with several standalone buildings in an open-air plaza, in which several tenants show local artwork and offer waterfront views for their customers. As a result of this sudden growth, bus lines have been extended so residents from across town can better access both shopping and medical facilities. Traffic lights have been installed to assist the flow of increased traffic, and it’s expected that all of Windsor Road will be widened to four lanes within the next few years. As local residents and commuters drive past, they eagerly crane their necks to see what else is “Now Open!” 8 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Expanding Selections for Students Green Street/Campustown Development JSM Development Campus-area developer JSM Development recently restored a building near the intersection of Sixth and Green streets. The project began as a vacant building and now houses Flat Top Grill, a make-your-own stir-fry restaurant, and Penn Station Subs. JSM Development also recently built the seven-story Urban Outfitters building at 507 E. Green Street. The international retailer takes up 12,000 square feet on the first two floors. The remaining five floors are leased to University of Illinois offices.
Campustown Living • Lofts 54: A new five-story apartment building located at 54 E. Chalmers, this unique building offers conveniently located lofts with an urban feel. • Presby Hall: U of I’s newest residence hall is located at the corner of John and Daniel streets in the heart of Campustown. The certified “green” building has amenities that students won’t find at other schools, including in-room washers and dryers, all-inclusive utilities, and fully equipped kitchens. • St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, on campus, recently underwent a $40 million expansion. Last year the center’s residence hall, Newman Hall, was renovated to enlarge bathrooms and add central air conditioning. It also received a brand-new seven-story addition, doubling occupancy to 600 students. The project added meeting rooms, a small market/gift shop and a food-court-style dining hall. There’s an expanded laundry room, and the building’s old cafeteria was converted to a 175-seat auditorium. St. John’s Catholic Newman Center also serves over 9,000 Catholic students on campus by offering programs and retreats.
Housing Options in
Champaign County Subdivisions Offer Charming Choices
s the nation faces a slowdown in housing, Champaign County continues to power ahead with strong sales and even stronger home values. Local sellers are pleased that home prices continue to increase, while buyers find affordable housing in a healthy market insulated from national trends by the presence of financially healthy employers and the University of Illinois.
• Fox Run II: A 16-lot development close to Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve and Golf Course. • Prairie Ridge: Extra-large lots in a peaceful rural setting. • Thornewood: Mature-tree-lined lots were designed with the development’s rolling hills in mind. Close to Lake of the Woods.
• Conway Farm: Single-family homes and condo lots with plenty of trees, lake views and landscaped common areas. Adjacent to a 17-acre park and shopping.
• Franzen: This brand-new subdivision offers large lots for single-family homes.
Kurt Lenschow CLU, CPCU, Agent
2309 Village Green Place, Suite C Champaign, IL 61822-7668
Ph: 217.352.1411 Fax: 217.352.1445 Email: email@example.com Web: www.kurtlenschow.com
Relocation & Development
• Legends of Champaign: Zero-lot-line, single-family homes in a community adjacent to a nine-hole golf course in southwest Champaign.
• Trails at Abbey Fields: Large home sites border a 5-acre lake in this luxury subdivision. • Trails at Chestnut Grove: 145 large single-family home sites in a park-like setting with walking trails and two large lakes. • Will’s Trace: Upscale single-family homes in southwest Champaign.
Savoy • Fieldstone: Host of the 2008 East Central Illinois Homebuilders’ Association Showcase of Homes. • Liberty on the Lake: This luxury subdivision that spans both Savoy and Champaign is home to 20 acres of open water, a 7-acre park and walking trails. • Wilshire: 42 homes sites for single-family homes, including some lake views.
Relocation & Development
• Brickhouses Road Subdivision: This “green-built” neighborhood offers single-family brick homes amid preserved prairie land and wildlife habitat. • Cobble Creek: Luxury zero-lot-line community with duplexes and single-family homes. • South Ridge: Residential and paired ranch lots near shopping and bus lines.
10 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
New Arts & Entertainment Magnet Krannert Center District
n 2008, several local businesses came together with staff from the Krannert Center for Performing Arts to brainstorm a way to market all their eclectic offerings together. The result was the Krannert Center District, a neighborhood encompassing several blocks surrounding the Krannert Center. With help from the City of Urbana, these businesses are bringing visitors to their part of town to shop, dine and take in some culture. Participants include Blues BBQ and the residents of Gregory Place West and Gregory Place East, including Heartland Bank & Trust, Rosatiâ€™s Pizza, Sandella's Flatbread CafĂŠ and other restaurants. Business owners and employees meet periodically to devise better ways to market the neighborhood and attract visitors.
Participants hope the Krannert Center District (KCD) will be a unique place for local artists to showcase their talents. Last fall, the group developed Krannert Center District Fridays, which pairs a different artist, performing or visual, and a different business each month. When visitors come to enjoy a KCD Friday, the hope is that they will shop, dine or take in another performance while in the neighborhood. The 2008 Pygmalion Music Festival was centered in the Krannert Center District, and audience members found themselves within walking distance of dozens of concerts. Ongoing events in the Krannert Center District include special meal pricing on Mondays and cultural performances in conjunction with international groups on the U of I campus.
Relocation Welcome & Development
Our experience makes the difference Steve Tock )
'# )! ' Jim Welch ' '' (& )! ' Maurice Bouslog
There is a difference.
( '% ( %!!$ www.hickorypointbank.com "
Chamber Member Banks
Whether youâ€™re looking for a bank as a newcomer to Champaign County or a current resident refinancing your home, find the right place to take care of your personal banking needs in Champaign County at any of these Chamber member banks. Area code, unless specified, is 217.
Relocation & Development
BankChampaign, N.A. 2101 S. Neil St., Champaign...................... 351-2870 5 Convenience Center Rd., Champaign..... 351-2876 Busey Bank 100 W. University Ave., Champaign........... 351-6500 314 S. Randolph St., Champaign............... 351-2700 614 S. Sixth St., Champaign...................... 365-4552 909 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign................... 384-3400 907 W. Marketview Dr., Ste. 1, Champaign.................................. 355-1580 2011 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign........ 351-2854 3002 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign.............. 351-2820 312 E. Main St., Mahomet......................... 586-4981 200 E. Sangamon Ave., Rantoul................. 892-2181 1231 Grove St., Rantoul............................ 892-4121 108 Arbours Dr., Savoy.............................. 384-3424 104 N. Main St., St. Joseph....................... 469-7631 101 N. Main St., Thomasboro.................... 892-2181 128 E. Holden St., Tolono........................... 485-6021 201 W. Main St., Urbana............................ 365-4500 2710 S. Philo Rd., Urbana......................... 365-4930
C Central Illinois Credit Union 2106 W. John St., Champaign................... 356-9721 2611 N. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.................... 367-0257 Commerce Bank 1015 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign.............. 359-9790 Community Plus Federal Credit Union 1005 Bloomington Rd., Champaign........... 693-3440 526 E. Champaign Ave., Rantoul................ 893-8201
F First Bank of Savoy 1251 Woodfield Dr., Savoy......................... 351-3526 First Busey Corp. 201 W. Main St., Urbana............................ 365-4556 First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust 2229 S. Neil St., Champaign...................... 359-9837 601 S. Vine St., Urbana.............................. 367-8451 First Midwest Bank 812 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign.......... 378-7629 2004 Fox Dr., Ste. K, Champaign............... 378-7634 First State Bank Windsor Rd. & Neil St., Champaign........... 239-3000 FREESTAR Bank 631 E. Green St., Champaign.................... 351-6688
12 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
1205 S. Neil St., Champaign...................... 352-6700 1611 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign............ 351-6620 806D Eastwood Dr., Mahomet................... 586-5322 410 N. Broadway Ave., Urbana.................. 351-2701 1819 S. Philo Rd., Ste. A, Urbana............... 351-2867
H Heartland Bank & Trust Co. 1101 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign.............. 359-5555 2101 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign........ 359-5555 602 S. Vine St., Urbana.............................. 359-5555 1103 W. Oregon St., Urbana...................... 359-5555 Hickory Point Bank & Trust, FSB 701 Devonshire Dr., Champaign................ 351-7100
J JPMorgan Chase 201 W. University Ave., Champaign........... 353-4470 303 S. Mattis Ave., Champaign................. 353-4428 405 N. Broadway Ave., Urbana.................. 351-3271
M Marine Bank 2434 Village Green Pl., Champaign........... 239-0100
N National City Bank, now a part of PNC 30 E. Main St., Champaign........................ 351-0500 1771 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign................. 363-4070 505 E. Green St., Ste. 5, Champaign......... 363-4080 507 S. Broadway Ave., Urbana.................. 255-6959
P Prairie State Bank & Trust 1902 Fox Dr., Champaign.......................... 239-7617 Prospect Bank 1601 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign............ 352-0077
T TCF Bank 809 S. Wright St., Champaign................... 265-6500
U U of I Employees Credit Union 206 E. University Ave., Champaign............ 278-7700 2201 S. First St., Champaign..................... 278-7700 1401 W. Green St., Urbana........................ 278-7700
unlimited Access eDuCaTion
U of I’s Disability Resources and Educational Services
he University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign is one of the top-ranked educational institutions in the country for students with disabilities. It was the first higher education institution to give these students unlimited access to all facilities, services and academic courses, and it continues to be a leader in equal access for all. The Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), a unit of the College of Applied Health Studies, serves roughly 1,000 students a year, and every year that number increases by an average of 100. Seventy-five percent of students registered with the division have cognitive or psychological disabilities. As the need for these resources continues to grow annually, the services at the University of Illinois are expanding.
Academics When students with disabilities enter U of I as freshmen or transfers, they must first contact DRES. Each student is assigned to a resource facilitator who assists the student in contacting every one of his or her professors to make arrangements for appropriate accommodations based on the student’s disability. The resource facilitator can recommend DRES services that may be helpful and can also assist professors in accommodating their students. At the start of every semester, DRES sponsors a book run during which the Illini Union 14 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
bookstore closes to the public for private shopping by students with disabilities. This allows DRES students to avoid the massive crowds that usually pack the bookstore during the first week of school. DRES buses pick students up at their dorms to make the trip smoother. Throughout the school year, the office also provides parking passes, note-taking assistance and testing accommodations. DRES assists students with a wide variety of disabilities, including cognitive and psychological disabilities, learning disabilities, mobility disabilities, and sensory disabilities in vision and hearing. Areas with specially trained staff members include sign language and oral interpreting, testing accommodations, assistive technology training and
The office offers a fully accessible gym as well as physical therapists who
support, document conversion (into formats like Braille, large text or video captioning), and accessibility and transportation issues. The office offers a fully accessible gym as well as physical therapists who can develop strengthening and training programs. Physical
therapists are assisted by student volunteers from academic programs like sports training and pre-occupational therapy. The University of Illinois has programs for students with disabilities that few schools, if any, can offer. U of I has a national reputation as a leader in accessibility, and it’s that reputation that draws prospective students here. “They go to visit other disability services offices,” said Kim Collins, assistant director of DRES, “but they see we have all these services that can’t be matched. It makes a difference.”
Housing Many students with disabilities graduate from high school lacking the ability to live independently. Because the transition from high school to college can be overwhelming, U of I offers Beckwith Residence Hall, a building operated by DRES that offers independent living with resources like 24-hour emergency assistance, a specially equipped computer lab and housekeeping. Personal assistants can help with activities from showering and dressing to navigating the dining hall. One of the most important things about living in Beckwith is students’ involvement in their transition to independent living. Residents help to hire, train and schedule personal assistants. “For incoming freshmen, the staff starts with the initial hiring and training. But over
Athletics For decades, the Fighting Illini have been leaders in wheelchair basketball, winning games, sweeping tournaments and spurring development of new wheelchair technology and design. The Fighting Illini men’s wheelchair basketball team has won seven national
collegiate titles and has gone to the postseason every year. The women’s team has won eight national championships. With its annual dominance and the offering of summer camps for high school students, Illinois’ wheelchair basketball teams attract the strongest and fastest players from around the country. U of I also offers a wheelchair track and field team. Current and former students have trained for and raced in national, international and Olympic events. The Fighting Illini wheelchair track and field team is the only one in the nation. Coaches and students act as leaders in the development of the sport and of wheelchair technology. Alumni include Jean Driscoll, eight-time winner of the Boston Marathon’s Wheelchair Division. The U of I’s wheelchair athletics program has a national reputation, and Fighting Illini Wheelchair Athletics is proud of its strong history and tradition of winning.
time, the students take on more responsibility and learn independence,” said Collins. Beckwith residents learn to manage their needs while creating a plan to transition to mainstream housing later on. As demand for this program increases, DRES is working with university housing to build a new Beckwith Hall and to renovate existing residence halls to increase their accessibility. The new residence hall, to be completed in 2010, will have features like keyless entry, a fully accessible kitchen and all ground-floor living units.
Growing & Green New U of I College of Business Facility
hat’s orange, blue and green all over? It’s the University of Illinois’ Business Instructional Facility, the brand-new home of the College of Business and the first “green” building in the university’s 141-year history. The Business Instructional Facility opened in September 2008 and houses state-of-theart classrooms, a 300-seat auditorium, faculty and administration offices, and a career center. The building, located at the corner of Sixth and Gregory streets, was designed b y Cesar Pelli, a world-renowned architect and University of Illinois graduate. With energy costs skyrocketing, the College of Business wanted a building that would reduce its consumption of campus resources like power and water and would also save money. The design called both for materials that save energy, like triple-pane windows and zinc roofing, and materials that reuse resources, like plantings on the roof that reduce rain run-off and solar panels that convert sunlight into The HVAC system has energy. Automatic dimmers been designed to run help regulate the amount of energy used for lighting and more effectively than also turn off lights in empty rooms. The HVAC system has traditional systems, and it been designed to run more improves air quality. effectively than traditional systems, and it improves air quality. There are even bike racks and showering facilities to encourage the use of bicycles. With plenty of open-air commons space, the Business Instructional Facility serves as a home base for current students and alumni. Its green design sets a new standard at the University of Illinois, and future buildings on campus are likely to integrate its building and design practices. 16 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Parkland College Rises to Meet Growth, Community Needs
employers hired a Parkland College student at some point over the past 10 years.” Parkland students who completed their education in fiscal year 2005 and worked year-round saw a 15.1 percent average increase in earnings over pre-enrollment wages. While a third of Parkland students enroll in professional programs that allow them to obtain jobs right after graduating (nurses, paramedics, graphic artists, police officers, mechanics, Web designers and the like), another third come to Parkland intending to transfer to a university. They enroll in general education courses that lead to Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees and, with proper advising, enjoy 100 percent transferability of their coursework. More Parkland College students transfer to Illinois than any other school. Parkland and Illinois recently teamed to create the “Parkland Pathway to Illinois,” an initiative that guarantees dual admission to a variety of majors in many colleges at Illinois. Parkland College faces challenges arising from uncertain economic times, including increased staffing needs, a decade-long
decrease in state fiscal support, and increasing competition. Many of the facilities at its 36-year-old campus require more time, attention and a growing share of fiscal resources for vital upgrade and expansion. In response, Parkland recently revised its 1996 Master Campus Development Plan (by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) and Paulien & Associates, Inc). The original plan assessed Parkland’s campus as having a deficit of 127,000 square feet of space for existing and contemplated new programs, as well as space deficits for student lounge and service space, food facilities space and administrative services space. Since Parkland’s campus space deficits must be addressed now despite decreasing state funding, the college has remodeled newly purchased additional space, Parkland College on Mattis at 1309 Mattis Ave., for its Health Professions programs. The college also anticipates breaking ground for a new facility for technical programs in engineering and automotive technology in summer 2009.
ith annual enrollment 7.4 times greater today than when it opened in 1967, Parkland College is facing evolving community needs, campus space challenges and decreased state funding head on, with bold, innovative steps to address them. Increasing numbers of community members are realizing the benefits of Parkland. More than 20,000 residents from ChampaignUrbana and surrounding communities enroll at the college each year, with about 250,000 credit students served since 1967. Residents take advantage of the college’s 100-plus career and transfer degree/certificate programs, its impressive selection of online courses, and its popular community workshops and classes. More and more Parkland graduates are also choosing to stay in Illinois to live and work. According to a 2007 study by the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) at Northern Illinois University, 95 percent of Parkland graduates are employed in-state — 74 percent of them within the college district. The study also shows Parkland’s positive economic impact on its district, as “nine out of 10
Champaign Residents Devote Time, Talent and Energy to Improving Education.
hey’re very different: a community volunteer, a math teacher and a group of eight bilingual educators. But while they specialize in different areas of education, they all have one thing in common: nomination for the Illinois State Board of Educators’ “Those Who Excel” awards. These individuals have devoted their time, talents and energy to improving education for students in Champaign schools. Brian Minsker, Community Volunteer When Brian Minsker began his PTA (Parent Teacher Association) involvement at Robeson Elementary School, he noticed the shortage of men attending meetings and was disappointed in how few faculty members were involved. He came up with big ideas, including incentive drawings, teacher recognition and membership discounts for couples. In just two years, he more than doubled the PTA’s membership to 210 members, with 100 percent faculty participation and more men in attendance at meetings. Moving on from Robeson Elementary, Minsker became president of the Champaign PTA Council, where he was the primary channel of communication between 16 separate PTAs and district administration. Brian completed three terms as president of the PTA Council and is now director of PTA District 10, a regional PTA made up of members from eight counties. Minsker also holds a spot on the Vision Committee, a group that did long-range planning for the next two decades of growth in Champaign schools. He’s also a member of the Illinois PTA State Board of Managers, and he volunteers in the community as a Cub Scout pack leader and a youth soccer coach. Years after his departure, the Robeson Elementary PTA remains a testament to Minsker’s hard work, with one of the largest memberships in the district and a record-high level of faculty involvement. 18 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Tracey Jones, Math Teacher at Franklin Middle School Math teacher Tracey Jones has been a staple at Franklin Middle School for more than 22 years, and her success earned her recognition as one of nine finalists for the 2008–2009 Illinois Teacher of the Year award. Her unique teaching tools include a math café, where special-needs students learn addition and subtraction in a realistic setting. Her classroom has a “word wall” filled with only positive adjectives, and at the end of every class she selects one person to choose a word that describes how the class acted that day. Jones started a dessert club, bringing homemade cupcakes for students who have earned A’s and B’s, and for her breakfast club she buys an early-morning meal in the cafeteria for students who have shown great improvement. A proponent of integrating special-needs students in mainstream classrooms, Jones worked hard at Franklin Middle School when it transitioned from a magnet school to a regular middle school. She continues to encourage students to achieve at higher levels, scheduling underrepresented students into honors classes and helping them with their work after school. She also pushed for the implementation of an all-girls math class, the first in the Champaign School District.
The Bilingual Teaching Team at Booker T. Washington Elementary They are eight women of varying ages and backgrounds, but they share a belief in the power of bilingual education. This group, comprised of Sherry Alimi, Mary Borgeson, Lorena Rodriguez, Marisanta Adams, Claudia Fradkin, Lauren Heckelman, Guadalupe Ricconi and Olga Halpern, includes teachers from various specialties and grade levels. These women make up the Bilingual Teaching Team at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.
Along with a special emphasis on The teachers’ care performing arts, the school has a strong English as a Second Language for these students (ESL) program. B.T. Washington has a helps to foster a significant Spanish-speaking population, and it’s the Bilingual Teaching sense of community Team’s belief that students educated in their native language will make in the school. greater strides in English proficiency and other academic subjects. The Teaching Team also firmly believes in the importance of Spanish-speaking parents’ involvement in their children’s education, so they send home notes and report cards in Spanish, do parent/teacher conferences in Spanish, and volunteer to translate at PTA meetings. The teachers’ care for these students helps to foster a sense of community in the school. It is not uncommon for the members of the Bilingual Teaching Team to transport students to doctors’ appointments, arrange for donations of food and clothing, or attend family celebrations.
eDuCaTion www.champaigncounty.org 19
Creativity in Curricula Projects in Urbana Public Schools
erforming arts at Urbana High School have taken off. Bands are winning awards, choirs are in high demand and the drama program hasn’t done the same show in 30 years. With all that’s going on, the performing arts faculty at Urbana High are pleased to be working with students in a town that is supportive of creativity and the arts.
Vocal Music There are three different choirs at Urbana High School, including an entry-level choir for freshmen and an honors choir. The school also has an a capella group, “Vocal Chords Required,” which traveled to Los Angeles for a performance tour in 2007. In recent years, the school’s choirs have performed at such wide-ranging venues as Carnegie Hall and Cedar Point Amusement Park. And vocal music at Urbana High is gaining in popularity. “This year we’ve got the most advanced freshmen,” said Angi Franklin, vocal music director. “In terms of readers, it’s a really strong group.” Franklin sees more students every year auditioning for the Illinois Music Educators Association’s all-district and all-state choirs. Roughly 10 percent of all Urbana High School students participate in vocal music, and Franklin, along with assistant Todd Taylor, has seen more students seek vocal coaching as they work on new material for community theater and college entrance auditions. Drama Every year, Urbana High School’s drama club presents several productions. When it comes time for the fall play or spring musical, Drama Club advisor Greg Chew schedules a minimum of five performances spread out over two weeks, saying it allows “the productions 20 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
to benefit and grow from the interaction with the audiences.” Students also put on a children’s show that draws 1,000 students from Urbana’s elementary and middle schools. The drama program is strongly supported by the community. “Our houses get larger with each performance based on word of mouth,” said Chew. “Usually we can expect between 1,000 and 2,000 people to attend during the run of the show.” Many Urbana High School alums have continued to study the performing arts, but their interests don’t stop at theater. Chew can rattle off the names of successful graduates, but he hates to single people out when Urbana alums have explored so many different avenues. “We have former students running dance troupes, performing in opera overseas, working in television as successful writers and producers. We also have playwrights,” he said. Instrumental Music Urbana High’s instrumental program offers groups with widely varying performance styles. There’s a marching band with about 50 students and a symphonic band with roughly 40. Students must audition to be part of the school’s wind symphony, and all musicians who participate in symphonic band or wind symphony are also members of the school’s pep band, which performs for boys’ home basketball games. Despite the fact that he just started in 2008, new Marching Band Director Leif Hall has already seen great things happening in the music program. He credits the community for students’ success in the arts. “I feel fortunate to teach in a community that is rich with resources, such as highly qualified private music teachers and volunteers from the university, that help make this growth possible,” he stated. “I plan to do everything that I can to maximize these resources.”
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Education 22 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Private Schools in Champaign County The High School of St. Thomas More 3901 N. Mattis Ave., Champaign 217-352-7210 :: www.hs-stm.org
Holy Cross School 410 W. White St., Champaign 217-356-9521 :: www.holycrosselem.org
Holy Cross School, located west of downtown Champaign, has been educating students for more than 95 years. Serving kindergarten through eighth grade, Holy Cross has an annual enrollment of about 360, with 15 percent being non-Catholic students. This Catholic, faith-centered school’s comprehensive curriculum includes morning prayer, schoolwide religious celebrations and community service. The challenging traditional curriculum includes project-oriented science courses that feature a simulation of a NASA space mission.
St. Matthew School 1307 Lincolnshire Dr., Champaign 217-359-4114 :: www.stmatt.net
St. Matthew, located in Champaign, opened in 1962. Enrollment in 2008–09 was 457 students in kindergarten through eighth grade with just under 30 faculty, including three sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. The school has grown at a healthy pace, and in 2006 added a performing arts/gymnasium facility. Students use this facility for band and swing choir concerts as well as an Advent program every December and an annual spring musical. Students can participate in handbell choir, which performs at weekly allschool Masses. The new building is also used for student athletics, which include crosscountry, basketball, track, baseball, softball and girls’ volleyball. The eighth-grade girls’ basketball team celebrated a state championship in 2008. A traditional academic curriculum includes English, math, science and social studies, as well as a full technology program, art, music, band and physical education. Student activities
include learning programs like Scholastic Bowl, Science Olympiad and Geography Bee. The school’s religious education program includes weekly Mass, catechism, and Sacrament and Confirmation preparation.
Judah Christian Elementary and High School 908 N. Prospect Ave., Champaign 217-359-1701 :: www.judah.org
The largest private school in the county, Judah Christian School opened in 1983 offering seventh through 10th grades, adding an additional grade every year. By 1986, Judah offered kindergarten through 12th grade, and in 1991, Judah added a preschool. The school’s 2008–09 enrollment was 590, with 25 teachers in the elementary school and 20 in the high school. Elementary students can participate in basketball, volleyball, soccer, track and cross country, competing in the IESA/IHSA division. The elementary school also has concert band and jazz band, Grandparents Day every spring, speech competitions, Math Olympics and annual spelling bees. One of the highlights of the school year is Missions International Week, when students learn about missionaries from different parts of the world. The high school offers eight sports and competes in the IHSA ECIC conference. Judah high school students can participate in band, choir, art, drama, community service, retreats and mission trips. Judah Christian is planning to build a new high school, with the goal of eventually moving the elementary grades to the same campus. This new campus will have enough land for both academic buildings and athletic facilities. www.champaigncounty.org 23
The High School of St. Thomas More (STM) opened in 2000 with just 70 students. Enrollment for 2008–2009 was 377 students. There are 34 teachers on staff, including Fr. Joseph Dondanville, the school’s chaplain. Located in northwest Champaign, St. Thomas More offers 17 different sports and competes in the Sangamon Valley Athletic Conference. The recently completed Henneman field, a football and track field, features an eight-lane all-weather track and a grandstand with a press box. Popular activities at STM include the Fall Follies, a Battle of the Bands competition and the school’s spring musical. Community volunteering is an important part of education at St. Thomas More, and last year’s seniors completed over 15,000 hours of service. STM’s Campus Ministry offers daily Mass, weekly confession and periodic retreats.
Computer literacy is an important part of education at Holy Cross, and every grade level has weekly computer instruction. The school’s computer lab has 28 eMacs, and individual classrooms have Internet access. Holy Cross offers extracurricular sports, music education, an aftercare program and a full library with over 9,000 volumes. Arts education rounds out the educational experience with music, theater and visual arts. Sports include cross country, track, boys’ and girls’ basketball, girls’ volleyball, boys’ baseball, and cheerleading.
Carle Cancer Center Houses Research, Technology, Treatment
he numbers are devastating. In 2008, there were an estimated 59,000 new cases of cancer in Illinois. Men have a less than one in two lifetime risk of developing cancer, while women have a more than one in three risk. In 2007, cancer treatments cost the country over $219 billion. But the numbers can also be encouraging. Cancer mortality rates are going down, and cancer incidence rates have steadily declined since the early 1990s. With a brand-new, $60 million facility for treatment and research, Carle Cancer Center is on a mission to come up with more of the good numbers. The new Carle Cancer Center, a collaboration of the Carle Clinic Association and Carle Foundation Hospital, is a 100,000-square-foot building that unites medical staff from all specialties to treat patients in one central location. It houses clinics dedicated specifically to prostate cancer and head and neck cancer, as well as the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. Warm and inviting, Carle Cancer Center was designed to offer a comforting atmosphere conducive to patientsâ€™ healing. The building hosts researchers from the University of Illinois who could hold the key to the future of cancer treatment and prevention. 24 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Mills Breast Cancer Institute
Support System Every patient who receives a diagnosis or treatment at Carle Cancer Center sees a licensed social worker who can supply information on available services, research, financial aid and community resources. Two full-time, oncology-specific social workers are trained in helping patients deal with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Genetic counselors and nutrition counselors are also available to patients, and volunteers from the community provide transportation to and from appointments. Carle Cancer Centerâ€™s shop features wigs and prosthetics as well as items helpful to those undergoing cancer treatment.
Doug and Linda Mills, an active couple known for their success in local business, were no strangers to cancer. Linda first fought off breast cancer in 1991. After 10 years in remission, her cancer returned, and she once again started her fight. It was her will to battle cancer that led the couple to donate $10 million to fund the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. Sadly, Linda Mills lost her life to breast cancer in 2006. But her battle continues, as the new facility funded through her generosity brings treatment and comfort to patients and hope for a cure. Mills Breast Cancer Institute treats patients with advanced technology in a calming environment. The Institute offers digital mammography as well as two fellowship-trained radiographers with expertise and experience in mammography. Upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, every patient is immediately put in touch with Mills Instituteâ€™s nurse navigator, who helps patients through their diagnosis and treatment with education and support.
Research Carle Cancer Center has devoted the entire top floor of its three-story building to research and is a participant in more than 100 research studies focusing on a wide range of cancers as well as cancer prevention. Carle Cancer Center is an active research facility linked with the National Cancer Institute; its primary research affiliation is with a research group from world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Cancer survivors and family members are Carleâ€™s patient advocates, offering emotional support and helping to explain the ins and outs of participating in clinical trials. Patients who participate in clinical trials have access to drugs and therapies they may not otherwise receive under the care of a regular oncologist. Any member of the community can participate in a clinical trial, and many healthy residents of Champaign County are currently in trials that focus on cancer prevention. www.champaigncounty.org 25
easy Access Christie Clinic Convenient Care
f it seems like Christie Clinic Convenient Care locations are popping up all over the place, it’s probably because they are. Since November 2005, Christie Clinic has opened three Convenient Care offices in Champaign: one at Christie on Windsor and two at County Market grocery stores on Kirby Avenue and Glenn Park Drive. In late 2008, Christie in Urbana began offering Convenient Care, and a new Convenient Care at the County Market in the Burnham 310 building on campus opened in 2009.
Convenient Care at County Market Christie Clinic was the first health care provider in central Illinois to bring a Convenient Care to a non-medical retail establishment. “To truly provide medicine for your life, we need to be as accessible as possible to our patients,” said Alan Gleghorn, Christie Clinic’s CEO. “Partnering with County Market not only makes us more accessible to current patients, but also lets us bring our world-class medical services to even more people in the community.” With the success of the first Convenient Care at County Market on Kirby and the recent openings of the Glenn Park and Burnham 310 locations, Christie Clinic is preparing to open more Convenient Care offices, with additional County Market locations in the works.
26 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
What Is Convenient Care? Christie Clinic Convenient Care is the place to go for allergies and infections, abrasions and bruises, colds and flu, and sprains and pains. Convenient Care provides health care for non-emergency conditions, making it ideal for anyone with kids, people who work the same hours as their doctor and anyone who needs medical attention on a weekend or in the evenings. Christie Clinic Convenient Care offers extended hours, including weekends. Patients don’t need an appointment; they can just walk right in. Convenient Care at Christie Clinic is open to nonChristie patients as well. Led by Dr. Vicki Browder, Christie Clinic Convenient Care is fully staffed with certified physician assistants, family nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses.
Centralized Services Provena Covenant Opens Community Centers
t’s hard to recover from injury and illness when under stress, and traveling all over town for doctors’ appointments can make for a rough road to recovery. Provena Covenant recently launched two new programs that aim to treat patients more efficiently, making health care more convenient and recovery a little easier.
In the past, University of Illinois students were forced to either see health care providers at the university’s health center or travel off-campus for doctor’s appointments. But that changed last fall when Provena Medical Group opened a new Campus Clinic at the corner of Oregon and Gregory streets, adjacent to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The Provena Medical Group Campus Clinic is home to Dr. Lenley Jackson, M.D., a family practice doctor who offers holistic options as well as traditional medical care. Dr. Jackson is himself a U of I graduate. The office has free wireless Internet for patients who want to work while they wait. While Dr. Jackson’s office is open during traditional hours on weekdays, Provena recently opened a clinic in the same location. Students who need to see a doctor for illness or injury now have another option in choosing their medical care during evening and weekend hours.
Human Motion Institute As technology rapidly advances, health care providers constantly add new orthopedic services, whether it’s joint replacement or reconstruction, sports medicine, spine care or rehabilitation. The increase in orthopedic treatments, coupled with the aging baby-boomer population, means doctors are seeing more patients at a higher frequency and sending them off for a variety of appointments with therapists, surgeons and other clinical staff. For a patient dealing with a musculoskeletal disease like osteoporosis or arthritis, this can mean traveling all over town to receive treatment, slowing down recovery and frustrating patients and their families. In 2008 Provena Covenant partnered with Human Motion Institute, a company that helps hospitals develop musculoskeletal care programs. The idea is to locate all services that patients need in just two buildings on Provena’s Urbana campus: one area for doctor’s offices and rehabilitation and a floor of the hospital dedicated solely to patients recovering from joint replacement surgery. Provena Covenant also feels that education is an important part of orthopedic care, especially when some patients may be able to use techniques to delay or avoid surgery altogether. Provena Covenant Medical Center is easing the demands of accessing care for its patients. This is especially helpful for the elderly, who may have trouble getting around, and for families who transport them. “The Human Motion Institute is a team of physicians who are dedicated to quality, and the best way we feel to exercise quality of care is to have all disciplines in one facility,” said Skip Pickering, director of the institute. “Pre-op education, surgery, post-op education and physical therapy for orthopedic care — they’re all in one place.” www.champaigncounty.org 27
The Commerce of Chemistry American Oil Chemists Society’s Efforts Reach Consumers Around the World
ost 100-year-olds have given up on new technology and traveling the world. But the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS), which turns 100 in 2009, remains strong and healthy as it works to bring together scientists from around the globe. An international organization with over 4,000 members, the AOCS is a professional association for individuals and groups with interest in the fields of fats, oils, surfactants (materials that reduce the surface tension of water), detergents and other related materials. AOCS members include governments, academic professionals and industry representatives who work with products like prescription drugs, infant formula, personal care products, edible oils, nutritional supplement oils and a variety of food products. Members from all over the world join AOCS to exchange ideas, get access to training and stay up-to-date in their fields. These members have been involved in the recent development of products like biodiesel engine fuel, omega-3 fatty acids and McDonald’s new trans-fat-free french fry oil. AOCS employs 38 staff members at its office in Urbana’s Stone Creek Commons. While all of the employees serve the group’s membership, only four are scientists, while others have backgrounds in fields like marketing or education. Formerly based in Chicago, AOCS relocated in 1970, choosing Champaign-Urbana because of its central location and the rich pool of highly skilled employees in the area.
28 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
One of the most important things that AOCS has always done is the development of measuring methods for fats, oils and related materials. These methods are used in the creation of many products we consume on a daily basis, from product development, manufacturing and shipping all the way down to the nutritional information on food packaging. Aside from access to the latest news on methods and standards, benefits of AOCS membership include the opportunity to participate in industry-specific conventions and training seminars around the world. At the AOCS annual North American convention and expo, roughly 600 papers are presented. The organization also presents an international convention every four years that focuses solely on detergents, and prestigious industry leaders like Procter & Gamble present the latest information on issues such as washing machine technology and environmental friendliness. Another member benefit is access to AOCS’ technical offerings, including three scientific journals and two annual magazines, as well as books and other reference materials. The organization’s most recent membership offering is AOCS Connect, an online network similar to MySpace that allows members to connect across fields. The goal of AOCS Connect is to make it easy for professionals in different fields to share problem-solving methods that can be used across many disciplines. As it grows in popularity, the staff is continuing to expand AOCS Connect to be as interactive and informative as possible.
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Innovation inspiration The Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership
he Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Illinois is full of offerings for students, professors and the community. The academy’s goal is to increase appreciation and understanding of entrepreneurship, not just in terms of startup companies, but also by creating value in communities, whether through new businesses or artistic or social ventures.
Programs Entrepreneurship Coursework Each year the Academy accepts proposals from U of I professors who want to create new courses highlighting entrepreneurship or to revise current courses to include study on the topic. Professors whose proposals are accepted receive grants to help them develop their courses. Research Grants These funds are available for professors researching entrepreneurship in their fields. Grants are also awarded to graduate students studying entrepreneurship, whether they are developing materials for courses or conducting entrepreneurial research in their fields. 30 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Co-Curricular Activities Five active student organizations allow participants to explore entrepreneurship without committing to coursework or research. These groups include Entrepreneurs Without Borders, an international group founded at the U of I. This group focuses on encouraging students to take what they’ve learned about entrepreneurship and use that knowledge to solve social issues. Global Entrepreneurship Week This international event, hosted in 70 countries around the world, aims to inspire students to think creatively and take action in bringing their ideas to reality. On a local level, activities of the week link students with business leaders to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. Past events at U of I have included film project competitions, wine-tasting events and a showcase of posters, as well as lectures and high school outreach. Community Resource “We function as a center of opportunity for the University of Illinois,” says Academy Executive Director Anthony Mendes, Ph.D., “and we are now supporting people in the community as well.”
The Academy gives $150,000 a year in grants to local entrepreneurs trying to launch or grow a business. And in conjunction with Parkland College, U of I hosts a local weekly television show, Outside the Box, to educate the community on local entrepreneurs and the issues they face. Education and Training The Academy hosts seminars aimed at students new to the study of entrepreneurship. Topics include subjects like marketing techniques, financing options and writing a business plan. In addition to formal education, advisors at the Academy work with students informally on a daily basis, giving them the professional advice they need to grow and succeed. During the 2007–08 academic year, almost 10,000 students were enrolled in a course dealing with issues of entrepreneurship, making U of I one of the top colleges in the nation for entrepreneurial studies.
Chamber Champions Job seekers Workforce Solutions: Trailing Partners/Intern Connect
helly Hooker moved to Champaign County when her husband took a job with a video game developer. She found herself in a new town with no friends or family, few contacts and no job. It wasn’t until she found the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s Trailing Partners program that her career search picked up speed.
“I think this program not only helps the spouses, but also
“I had two job interviews thanks to their help,” Hooker said. “I think this program not only helps the spouses, but also helps the families behind them. I am really grateful for this program.” It wasn’t long until Hooker herself was hired by her husband's business and resumed her career. In addition to Trailing Partners, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce also has an Intern Connect program, linking local companies with student interns.
helps the families behind them.”
hen an individual relocates to Champaign County due to a spouse or partner’s job, it can be hard to find new employment. But for those whose spouses or partners work for a participating member of the Trailing Partners program, help is just a phone call away. After submitting a résumé, participants receive a consultation so the program director is familiar with their skills and experiences. The Workforce Solutions staff then develops a networking process to put the individual in touch with local employers. Participants are given information on local employers’ Web sites, community job boards and networking groups in their fields. Workforce Solutions staff sends potential employees’ résumés to appropriate companies and can touch base with local contacts to highlight a potential hire. The program began in early 2008. The Chamber realized it was hearing the same concerns from local employers over and over: Valuable employees were taking positions here only to have their spouses unable to find work. Laura Weis, president and CEO of the Chamber, came up with the
idea without a model, and staff members sorted out the details as they developed the program. The Chamber has received national attention for this valuable program, and local employers are eager to participate. Every company that has been approached has wanted to join the Trailing Partners program, and there are roughly 200 local employers involved. Just knowing there’s someone to help newcomers to the community has eased the minds of those relocating to Champaign County. “Knowing there is someone willing to help with the job search and transition process took a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Joe Evans, a trailing partner from San Antonio, Tex. The program offers participating employers another benefit in recruiting talented employees from around the nation. Every employer who participates in referring trailing partners also agrees to review the résumés of qualified trailing partners from other businesses. In its first year, Workforce Solutions helped over 50 trailing partners with their local job searches.
Between Parkland College and the University of Illinois, there are many outlets for students and employers to connect. But if a company wants to network with potential interns from a wide variety of these organizations, the Workforce Solutions: Intern Connect program is the way to go. Intern Connect functions as one central point of contact between more than 20 career services offices from both schools. When a company wants a highquality intern, whether it’s to help with a special project or to test out a potential employee, Intern Connect can help find students with the right skills. The program is beneficial for career services staff at the schools as well. “We have been able to reach out to companies who may not have known who to contact to recruit Illinois talent for internships or short-term projects,” said Amy Fruehling of the University of Illinois’ Business Career Services. In addition to intern-matching services, companies get help setting up and maintaining their intern programs. Workforce Solutions holds quarterly seminars on topics like starting an intern program or hiring interns. There’s also a best practices seminar, in which panel members from companies with outstanding intern programs share their experiences and insight. Local companies are finding this program to be of great value, as an aging workforce and competitive market calls for the infusion of young, fresh talent. www.champaigncounty.org 31
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WoRKfoRCe & business seRviCes
hile $25 million is an impressive amount of money, it might be more impressive when it’s money saved instead of spent. By saving $25 million as members of the Chamber of Commerce’s Electricity Co-op, local businesses have spared consumers the effects of increased energy costs, keeping the prices of their goods and services low and keeping life in central Illinois incredibly affordable. In 2006, the Illinois energy market was deregulated, and prices from traditional suppliers skyrocketed. Suddenly there was more than one energy supplier — and businesses were left to decide between a number of retail electricity suppliers with varying rates. Many business owners were overwhelmed by this task and disheartened by the drastic increase in expenses. They knew that increased energy costs would mean raising prices and passing on the expense to valuable customers. But the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce started to think big. What if all these concerned businesses joined together? By increasing their buying power, a united group of commercial customers was likely to get better rates than members would as individuals. So the Chamber’s Electricity Co-op was born. Chamber members pay an initial fee of $300 per property; large corporations
34 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
can include all their locations as long as at least one is located in Champaign County. New rates are negotiated every 12 to 48 months, based on the current market, and when the new rate is announced, members of the co-op can either accept it or stick with their current provider. When the negotiated contract is up, rates are renegotiated and the process starts again. New members can join throughout the year since the Chamber starts a new co-op group Collectively this group of close to 500 businesses has saved over $25 million on electricity bills, and that figure continues to grow.
every time there’s interest from at least 25 local businesses. Collectively this group of close to 500 businesses has saved over $25 million on electricity bills, and that figure continues to grow. But how have individual businesses done? “We have saved an average of 15 to 20 percent,” said Jim and Tanya Gould, owners of popular downtown Champaign restaurant
Jim Gould. “The change was ‘invisible’ to us as it only results in us receiving a bill from a different company.” On average, small businesses have saved between 8 and 10 percent a year, while mid-sized businesses have saved about 10 to 14 percent a year. Large companies are seeing savings of about 20 percent a year. Part of the Electricity Co-op program has been educating business owners on how the energy market works. Just before members receive a bid, the Chamber holds meetings to educate members on current trends in the energy market and the prices they can expect to see. “We have heard from countless businesses how thankful they are for this program,” said Chamber President and CEO Laura Weis. “Our members continue to save money and have avoided raising prices to keep up with the nationwide jump in energy costs. These businesses are keeping the cost of living in east central Illinois affordable, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the success of the co-op.”
Bobcat of Champaign Find the Tools You Need 2005 Jones Ct., Mahomet 217-586-7595 :: www.bobcatofchampaign.com
obcat of Champaign is a business with a lot going on, with small and large products for everyone from families to large contracting companies. Since 2005, the company has been selling Bobcat industrial and construction equipment like loaders, tractors and excavators. It is an authorized dealer of Hustler turf equipment, like riding mowers and compact tractors for large acreages, and a Stihl handheld power equipment dealer, with products for homeowners like hedge trimmers, weed eaters, blowers and chainsaws. In addition to selling new equipment, Bobcat of Champaign sells used Bobcat equipment and rents construction machinery. Homeowners can rent the tools they need for large projects like spreading mulch or gravel, digging a swimming pool or building a fence. The staff at Bobcat of Champaign can help customers track down parts that are hard to find, whether attachments for loaders and excavators or replacement parts for older equipment. In addition to selling and renting equipment, Bobcat of Champaign services customersâ€™ equipment, and its technicians have over 90 years of combined experience.
36 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Triad Shredding Keeping Businesses Safe P.O. Box 423, Rantoul 61866 217-893-4113 :: www.triadshredding.com
Shredding can also destroy electronic media, including tape back-ups, CD-ROMs, diskettes, microfilm and microfiche. Since business has grown since the company’s inception, the facility has as well. “We upgrade our shredders periodically to handle more volume as business grows,” Feig said. The business is environmentally friendly, too. When shredding is complete, 1,000-pound paper bales are hauled directly to a paper mill for recycling.
Farm Credit services Financing Farms and Futures
1100 S. Farm Credit Dr., Mahomet 217-892-6000 :: www.fcsillinois.com
hey can’t make it rain, but Farm Credit Services (FCS) in Mahomet does everything in its power to help farmers in east central Illinois. This farmer-owned cooperative offers its customers financial and credit services as well as crop insurance. FCS offers loans for real estate, machinery and livestock, and operating costs. It finances leases of farm
vehicles or machinery and agribusiness companies like grain elevators and food processors. FCS offers life and disability services and has an investment program with higher returns than traditional savings accounts. FCS also has a loan program for those just starting out, including farmers 35 or younger, farmers who gross $250,000 or less and farmers with fewer than 10 years’ experience.
Farm Credit Services’ slogan, “We Understand,” references staff members’ experience in farming, whether they were raised or worked on a farm. “Our people have backgrounds in farming,” said Rick Swearingen, regional vice president. “We know agriculture better than any other agricultural lender out there.” www.champaigncounty.org 37
The growing problem of identity theft has brought about the development of privacy legislation, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which impacts financial institutions, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Triad Shredding can (or HIPAA) for the nation’s health care industry. So many businesses destroy everything from are affected by this legislation financial records and that there is now a great demand for companies that can properly personnel files to credit destroy sensitive material. Triad Shredding can destroy everything cards, invoices and from financial records and personcancelled checks. nel files to credit cards, invoices and cancelled checks. “Potentially every business could use us,” said owner Lisa Feig. “Every business has employee files, tax documents and other records. We have a wide variety of customers with a wide variety of needs.” Triad Shredding began in 2002 and is a joint venture of co-owners and siblings Lisa Feig and Jim Finger. Triad Shredding works with both commercial and residential customers and offers a variety of services, from weekly pick-ups to annual service. In addition to paper, Triad
Herff Jones Celebrating Educational Achievement 1000 N. Market St., Champaign 217-351-9500 :: www.herffjones.com
Herff Jones, in business for almost 90 years, provides thousands of high schools, colleges and universities across the nation with education-related products, including graduation apparel, diplomas and class rings. Herff Jones’ Cap & Gown Division is headquartered in Champaign. This unit manufactures graduation apparel and outfits both students and faculty for kindergarten, high school and college graduations. The Cap & Gown Division also offers special stoles, tassels, cords and hoods to recognize students with significant achievements. The Champaign facility also manufactures and sells robes and accessories for school and church choirs, ministers and judges. The Cap & Gown Division began in 1926 as a separate company, Collegiate Cap & Gown, in the basement of a building on the University of Illinois campus. Founder H.I. Gelvin managed the company until 1976. After his retirement and several ownership changes, it became a division of Herff Jones in 1979. Many customers wonder how Cap & Gown Division employees stay busy all year long when graduation only comes once annually. “It takes all year!” says plant manager Joyce Goode. “In summer things are flooding back in. We sort, clean, inspect and repair our rental gowns, and that takes us through the first of February, which is when we start to get everything ready to go again.” Factor in the manufacture of choir robes and August and December graduations, and the plant is a busy place. “There’s activity going on all year round,” Goode said. 38 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Coffee News Community Chat
P.O. Box 96, Savoy 61874 217-722-8294 :: www.illinoiscoffeenews.com
ot only is it family-friendly light reading, but Coffee News is also a way for advertisers to reach clients hungry for something to read. This one-page, locally produced paper is free to readers and contains fun facts, short articles, horoscopes, trivia, contests and community news. It’s placed in more than 350 restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses, like medical offices, where customers often find themselves waiting. Because the readers of Coffee News are looking to pass the time, they’re likely to read everything on the page, including the ads. The paper is designed to be read in just 10 to 12 minutes. A rapidly growing international franchise, Coffee News began in Canada in 1988 and came to Champaign County in 2006. In 2008, Jim and Cheryl Stewart became owners of the local Coffee News franchise, publishing three separate weekly editions for Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities. Advertisers like that the ads are affordable. They’re also exclusive, since only one business per industry can advertise each week. Surveys have shown that many readers put Coffee News back where they found it, so a single paper can be read by several readers. The Stewarts, who both grew up in Champaign-Urbana, said they bought the franchise because it provides direct support to small business owners who contribute to the community’s economic growth. They want Coffee News to put a smile on readers’ faces while helping to make the community a better place to live.
From commercial properties to residential projects, F.E. Moran, Inc. Fire Protection has the experience and expertise to perform on time and under budget.
24-Hour Emergency Service Installation, Inspection and Repair Ofﬁces in Champaign & Carterville, IL and Grifﬁth, IN 3001 Research Road Suite A • Champaign, IL 61822 Phone (217) 356-0700 • Fax (217) 356-0777
Swanson Roofing Business Vignettes
Top-of-the-Line Home Repair 1508 E. Grand Ave., St. Joseph 217-355-ROOF :: www.theroofingdog.com
wanson Roofing was started by Cory Swanson in 1996. He began as a subcontractor for general contractors but soon switched his focus to homeowners, and today Swanson Roofing works almost solely on repairing and replacing old roofs. He prides on offering high-quality work at affordable prices. Swanson was born and raised in Rantoul, so it was an easy decision for him to headquarter his business in Champaign County. He has 10 employees, although that number usually increases to about 20 over the summer, when he hires teachers and college students to help during warm-weather crunch time. Because Cory focuses only on roof replacement and repair, he is able to give customers the time and attention he feels they deserve. â€œI donâ€™t subcontract anything,â€? Cory stated. â€œI work on every job with our guys. We try to stay together as one crew to focus on quality. We value taking care of our customersâ€™ homes, and I put the best roof I can on them so that it will last 30 to 50 years.â€? Dedicated customer service for homeowners remains one of Coryâ€™s top priorities. He relies on word-of-mouth to build his companyâ€™s strong reputation for excellence, and customers are not left disappointed. â€œIt would be an understatement to say I was pleased with every aspect of the job Mr. Swanson and his crew did on my roof, from start to finish,â€? said customer and Rantoul resident Don McCall. â€œI was impressed and delighted, from price to workmanship, and would very highly recommend them to anyone.â€?
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Style and Service 410 N. Vine St., Urbana 217-367-4066 1705 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign 217-352-2229 www.cartersfurniture.com
Carter’s Furniture, founded by Allen Carter Sr. in 1954, is still owned and operated by Mr. Carter’s family, and his son, Allen Carter Jr., has been the company’s president since 1979. Carter’s carries more than 40 different lines of fine furniture for living and dining rooms, bedrooms, dens, home offices and children’s bedrooms. The flagship store at the corner of Vine Street and University Avenue in Urbana has 40,000 square feet of showroom and 25,000 square feet of warehouse. Carter’s on Prospect in Champaign has a 14,000-square-foot showroom with the unique ability to showcase furniture as it might be arranged in a home. There are design consultants on staff at both locations. Furniture is a purchase that people may only make every few years. So what keeps customers coming back to Carter’s? Bud Leister, a family member and chairman of the board at Carter’s, thinks the answer lies in the company’s individualized customer care. “Sixty percent of our business is special order,” he stated, “which is different than a lot of furniture businesses in our area. Our customers are able to get exactly what they want when we place an order directly with our manufacturer.”
Tracking Elemental Isotech Laboratory
sotech Laboratory is in the business of isotope analysis. While isotopes may not pop up in everyday conversation, this local company is a major player in its field. Isotech has worked with virtually all of the world’s corporate oil giants and continues to expand its facilities across the globe. Species of atoms of a single chemical element can have the same atomic number and nearly identical chemical behavior, but have different atomic mass and different physical properties. These different atoms within a single element are called “isotopes.” Isotope analysis can sometimes reveal the source of a material, whether liquid, gas or solid. This information is valuable to businesses in a variety of fields, but Isotech’s primary client base is large oil companies. A client drilling a new well retrieves natural gas samples and ships them to Isotech, which then creates a fingerprint of the sample that helps determine where the gas was formed and how it’s stored in the earth. This can tell the client whether the gas is from a large pool or smaller pockets. Isotech was founded in 1985 by Dennis Coleman, Kerry Riley, Jerry Benson and Jack Liu, who all attended the University of Illinois. Three of the founders were employed at the Illinois State Geological Survey. When they started contracting independently with companies using techniques developed by Coleman, business took off and they formed Isotech Laboratories. At first they worked solely with natural gas storage companies but after a few years expanded into other industries. Isotech currently employs more than 30 chemists, technicians and support staff in its Champaign facility. One of the company’s biggest successes is the IsoTube®, a lightweight, inexpensive container created to take samples of natural gas. IsoTubes® can also be used to transport other types of gas, and it is the container most frequently used by companies shipping samples to Isotech and other laboratories. Many of Isotech’s clients are located outside the United States. To better assist clients, Isotech has begun an international expansion, establishing satellite laboratories near areas of active oil and gas exploration. Isotech has contracted with labs in Cairo, Egypt, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to serve clients in the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and South America. Isotech designed and delivered its own analytical systems to these facilities. The host laboratories provide technicians to load IsoTubes® into an autosampler, and analysts in Champaign monitor and control the analytical instruments via the Internet. Isotech’s satellite laboratory concept has allowed it to export its services without exporting jobs. Another satellite facility is expected to open in Australia sometime this year. 42 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Supercomputing Central NCSA
To use NCSAâ€™s supercomputers, researchers from across the country go through a rigorous application process. A national peerreview committee evaluates applications and awards hours of computing time. While these scientists are well-versed in computerassisted research, NCSA staff members provide support to make the supercomputers more user-friendly. Opened in 1986 as one of the National Science Foundationâ€™s five supercomputer centers, NCSA currently employs just under 300 people. NCSA is supported by the National Science Foundation, the University of Illinois, the state of Illinois, several federal agencies and corporate partners from various industries like manufacturing and insurance. NCSA currently has two locations on campus. A third facility is under construction near the research park and is expected to be completed in 2010. This new building will house â€œBlue Waters,â€? expected to be the worldâ€™s largest and most powerful supercomputer for open research when it comes online in 2011. Blue Waters, being developed in collaboration with IBM through a grant from the National Science Foundation, will be capable of performing a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion, mathematical calculations per second. With this kind of power, scientists and researchers will be able to model things like the formation of tornadoes, the spread of an epidemic, the performance of an aircraft and the interaction of molecules with greater detail and more accuracy.
he National Center for Supercomputing Applications, or NCSA, housed at the University of Illinois, is home to some of the biggest and fastest supercomputers in the world. These machines help researchers â€œseeâ€? beyond the reach of the most sensitive observational instruments. Through computer simulations, they investigate fundamental questions about science, such as how the human body functions at the molecular level, how the universe evolved in the moments after the Big Bang, and how atmospheric forces create deadly storms. â€œEverything we do is about enabling science,â€? said Trish Barker, NCSAâ€™s public information officer. â€œThis organization is about supporting researchers, helping them do new research and make important breakthroughs that will benefit our world.â€? In addition to scientistsâ€™ simulations, NCSA also produces images for mass audiences. Visualization experts at NCSA transform dry data into artful animations that have been showcased at the American Museum of Natural History, in an Oscar-nominated IMAX movie, in television documentaries, and at planetariums and theaters around the globe. These animations help audiences better understand scientific phenomena like tornadoes and disease outbreaks.
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What Happens Here â€Ś
Changes the W rld U of I, Local Inventors Pioneer Life-Changing Products and Procedures
Mosaic Web Browser
urrounded by small farming towns and miles of corn and beans, Champaign-Urbana is home to a world-class university and inventors who are changing the world. These inventors are pioneers in their fields, and their work is affecting the world in big ways.
LED: Nick Holonyak Nick Holonyak was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008 to honor his creation of the first light emitting diode, or LED, in 1962.
44 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
LEDs are used in electronic devices, emergency vehicle lights, traffic lights, electronic billboards, Christmas lights, stage lighting and remote controls. Over the last 55 years, Holonyakâ€™s work has focused on lasers and transistor technology. His inventions in lasers are used in medical technology, ophthalmology and CD players. Holonyak joined the U of I faculty in 1963. He has mentored hundreds of scholars and continues to carefully train and guide the next generation of inventors.
Mosaic is the Web browser credited with opening up the World Wide Web to the general public. In the early 1990s, Internet use was limited to individuals working in academia or government. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois developed and released Mosaic for free in 1993, and it wasnâ€™t long before millions of people were on the Web. Mosaic was the inspiration behind the development of Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, and many features of the original Mosaic are still found in browsers we use today.
Micronutrient Delivery Technology
With the potential to improve the health of millions around the world, University of Illinois researchers have developed a new technology to deliver micronutrients to poor or rural populations. Led by William Helferich, a team of scientists has created Nutrigems, in which micronutrients like iron, potassium and vitamin A are combined with staple flours to form a dough that is pressed through a handheld extruder. The result is grain packed with micronutrients that can easily be added to regular food without affecting taste. This technology is easy to use and extremely affordable, costing less than a nickel per child each year. Micronutrient deficiencies affect more than 3 million people around the world, and implementation of Nutrigems could help developing countries combat child mortality and improve childrenâ€™s vision, growth, immune systems and brain development.
Synthetic Cortisone Lewis Hastings Sarett, born in Champaign, prepared the first synthetic version of the hormone cortisone in 1944 and, in 1949, helped initiate a new synthesis for cortisone using materials from coal, air, lime and water. Natural cortisone, a steroid produced by the adrenal gland during stress, can have limited benefits, as its release is not precise and its effects are short-lived. Alternatively, synthetic cortisone lasts longer, can be re-applied and acts quickly, as it is injected directly into the inflamed area, not released into the bloodstream. A powerful anti-inflammatory drug, synthetic cortisone has multiple medicinal uses, including treatment of rheumatoid disorders, such as arthritis; endocrine disorders; and for organ transplants, as it minimizes the bodyâ€™s defensive reaction to foreign proteins.
2008 U of I Olympians
n August 2008, athletes from across the United States competed in the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Seven of them have ties to the University of Illinois.
Tennis – South Africa Anderson played tennis for U of I for three outstanding seasons before turning pro after his junior year in 2007. He and partner Ryan Rowe won the NCAA doubles title in 2006 and finished as runners-up in 2007. He was defeated in the first round of doubles play at the 2008 Olympics but made it to the second round of singles.
Track – Sweden A member of Illinois’ 2001 world-recordsetting shuttle hurdle relay team, Kallur ran track for the Fighting Illini in 2001 and 2002. She has won a number of international races and finished 11th in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She made it to the second semi-final of the 100-meter hurdles in the 2008 Olympics but was eliminated by a fall.
46 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Track – Botswana Masheto, a senior during the 2008–09 season, is a four-time Big Ten champion and twotime All-American. He has competed internationally and recently set the NCAA indoor record for the 500-meter dash. Masheto ran the 400-meter dash in Beijing but did not advance to the finals.
Baseball – Canada Robinson was a catcher at the University of Illinois for three years, leaving for the majors in 2005 after his junior year. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and then traded to the Chicago Cubs, playing in the minor leagues for both clubs. Robinson played for the Canadian national baseball team, which made it to the Olympic finals but lost in the group stage.
Gymnastics – United States At the University of Illinois, Spring was a standout in high bar and parallel bars and a four-time NCAA champion. He holds numerous school records and was a 12-time AllAmerican. After graduating in 2006, Spring was hired as assistant coach of the Illinois men’s
team. He continued training and overcame various injuries, including a torn ACL, knee surgery and back spasms, to land a spot on the 2008 Men’s National Team. Spring competed in vault, high bar, floor and parallel bars to help the U.S. men’s team win a bronze medal.
Basketball – United States A team leader during the Illinis’ 2004–05 run to the National Championship game, Williams left U of I in 2005 after his junior year to enter the NBA draft. He racked up countless awards as a point guard at Illinois and has gone on to become an NBA superstar after being selected third overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2005 draft. He scored seven points in the final game of the Olympics, helping the U.S. men’s team defeat Spain for the gold medal.
Soccer – Canada Zurrer, a senior defender at the U of I during the 2008–09 season, was a two-time All-American and the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Year in her sophomore season. The Canadian women’s soccer team played four games at the 2008 Olympics and reached the quarter-finals before losing to the United States in overtime.
Shots from the Olympics
• International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded in 1894 on the initiative of a French nobleman, Pierre Frédy, Baron de Coubertin. • Olympic motto: “Citius, Altius, Fortius” — “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”
Other Olympic Ties to Champaign County
Tribute to Olympic Athletes Champaign Park District’s Dodds Park, located near Parkland College in northwest Champaign, is home to the “Tribute to Olympic Athletes” monument, which bears the names of almost 30 Olympians, including speed-skater Bonnie Blair, a five-time gold medalist raised in Champaign who attended Centennial High School. Dedicated in 1991, the monument is designed to signify the long and difficult path athletes travel to compete in the Olympics.
• The ﬁve colored rings on a white ﬁeld form the Olympic ﬂag. The colors—white, red, blue, green, yellow, and black—were chosen because every nation had at least one of these colors in its national ﬂag. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Games
Gill Athletics Another Champaign County connection to the Olympics is Gill Athletics, the oldest and largest manufacturer of track and field equipment in the world. The company recently expanded its headquarters, located in Champaign’s Apollo Industrial Park. Almost 80 years old, Gill Athletics builds almost two-thirds of the vaulting poles used in high school, college, national and international competitions and supplied vaulting poles, discuses and javelins for the 2008 Olympics. The company’s research has led to the development of the Pacer Carbon FX pole, a light and powerful pole made from fiberglass and carbon fiber. Athletes from across the nation visit the Champaign factory where their equipment is made. www.champaigncounty.org 47
• There have been two generations of the Olympic Games; the ﬁrst were the Ancient Olympic Games held at Olympia, Greece. The second, known as the Modern Olympic Games, were ﬁrst revived in 1896 by the Greek philanthropist Evangelis Zappas, in Athens, Greece.
“Play Ball!” First Pitch Baseball Brings Tourneys to Champaign
ive years ago, Don Flynn saw that independent travel teams, or “travel ball,” was taking off. He had a hunch teams would want to play in Champaign-Urbana. Flynn and his wife DeeDee own and operate First Pitch Baseball Inc., organizing tournaments in Champaign for traveling baseball teams. These competitive teams, built through tryouts, are for boys ages 9–14. First Pitch primarily draws teams from central Illinois and the Chicago suburbs, but there are often tournament entries from Indiana, Missouri and as far away as Ohio and Kentucky. Almost every tournament sells out. Roughly 35 to 40 teams travel far enough that they must stay in town overnight, and First Pitch’s customers fill an average of 2,500 hotel rooms each summer. Flynn began his involvement with travel ball by coaching his two sons’ teams. As the family toured the region, he frequently heard from coaches who were eager to visit Champaign-Urbana. In 2004, Flynn began to rent Dodds Park in northwest Champaign and Zahnd Park in southwest Champaign. “We have a great relationship with the Champaign Park District,” Flynn said. “They have excellent facilities, take great care of the fields and are easy to work with. Teams come to Champaign to play because we have nice fields and a nice mix of teams.” The tournament season runs from April through late July, and 2009 marks First Pitch Baseball’s sixth season, with steady growth every year. First Pitch’s Web site, www.firstpitchbaseball.com, is the company’s primary tool for doing business, with scores, schedules and standings online. Flynn finds that his customers love to visit Champaign and enjoy their weekends here, shopping, eating out and, of course, playing some ball. “Champaign-Urbana is a very nice community, a great place to raise kids,” Flynn stated. “Other folks are attracted to come here for a variety of reasons; it’s a great place to visit, and a lot of University of Illinois alums want to come back to visit with their children.”
48 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
ittle Illini Soccer Club, or LISC, a notfor-profit soccer organization, has been around for over 25 years. Its unique approach to soccer training puts competition on the back burner and encourages development of skills and enjoyment of the game. The club’s focus on training and friendliness has helped the organization to increase its player retention rate to over 95 percent. “Our focus is on sportsmanship and development,” said Mike Kobylinski, LISC’s director of coaching. “The only kids who have left have gone on to bigger clubs in St. Louis or Chicago.” Kids can play for LISC when they’re as young as 7 or 8, and most keep playing through their teens. Many LISC players go on to play in high school and at colleges across the country, and some continue to play locally, either at Parkland College or on the University of Illinois club team. One of LISC’s most successful alums is Ella Masar, recently drafted by the Chicago Red Stars pro soccer team after a successful college career at Illinois. LISC began in 1982 when parents of players from two independent teams decided to
pool resources and develop more structured play and training at a higher level. What started with a few teams has grown into 360 participants on 22 teams in the 2008 season. About 20 coaches work with the teams, including some who coach or play at U of I. “Our coaches are licensed by either USSF (United States Soccer Federation) or NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America),” said Kobylinski. “Most coaches have played in high school or college, and all have had training in youth soccer coaching.” As they try to draw attention away from the competitive aspect of soccer, coaches look to increase players’ skills through exercises that involve the entire team. • The academy program for players age 9 and under (U9) creates a group of 30 to 40 kids who train together. LISC then mixes rosters for training and friendly matches instead of making cuts once players turn 8 years old. • For the U10 and U11 age brackets, LISC tries to maintain two equally skilled teams instead of dividing players by ability. By allowing kids
to play as equals, LISC hopes to retain players and encourage them to continue playing as they get older. • Once players reach the U12 age bracket they begin to travel regionally throughout central Illinois. • Players in U15 through U19 travel out of state for tournaments and showcases. • In the summer of 2008, LISC had its first U23 team, made up of former Little Illini players, Parkland athletes and others who traveled from as far as Springfield and played on college teams as far away as Iowa and Missouri.
One of LISC’s biggest undertakings is hosting its two popular regional tournaments, one at Dodds Soccer Complex and the other at the University of Illinois soccer fields. LISC’s tournaments bring thousands of tourists to Champaign County, filling restaurants and booking hotels solid. One of the big draws of the tournament is that all players get free admission to Fighting Illini soccer games, a real treat for young players. www.champaigncounty.org 49
Kids Get Their Kicks Little Illini Soccer Club
Gridiron Upgrades Memorial Stadium Renovation
arren Hood has seen a lot of stadium renovations. An associate athletic director at the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, Hood was the go-to guy for the recent renovation of Memorial Stadium. Before he began working on the details, Hood traveled across the nation to over a dozen NCAA Division I schools to see how others have tackled such a massive project. “We took a lot of ideas from a lot of places,” Hood said. The staff at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, or DIA, knew Memorial Stadium was in need of an update that would make games more comfortable and enjoyable for visitors while preserving the architecture of this historic structure. As they began work on the design of the $121 million renovation, Hood and his staff were adamant that the historic aspects of the stadium, which was built during World War I and dedicated in 1924, remain untouched. The exterior of Memorial Stadium claims several proud architectural details like stately columns, original brick façades and ramp towers. Crews worked hard 50 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
to avoid damaging these features during construction, and DIA spent an extra $20 million to ensure that the new structure in the West Stadium remained inside the building, away from the historic façade. Architects and DIA
Along with an expanded press box, there are newly constructed luxury boxes that offer a different kind of game-day experience. staff worked closely with the Illinois Historical Preservation Society throughout the construction process. Work on the stadium began immediately after the end of the 2006 football season and was completed just in the nick of time, with construction crews working right up to game time of the 2008 season home opener. Excited patrons filled the stadium to enjoy enlarged public concourses, updated concession stands, wider aisles and new restrooms. The stadium’s big-screen video board was moved from the
north end zone to the south, and in its place was a brand-new standalone structure with 5,000 permanent seats to accommodate the student section and the marching band. Along with an expanded press box, there are newly constructed luxury boxes that offer a different kind of game-day experience. The presales of luxury boxes played a large part in funding the renovation. DIA is grateful to local businesses and individuals who showed their support for the team and the university by buying into the luxury box program when the plans were just an idea. “We wouldn’t have been able to start if our donors and fans didn’t step forward. Their faith in what we were going to build and have on the field was critical,” said Hood. West Stadium is now home to a nine-story structure housing club seating and a greatly expanded press box. On the first few floors are several different club seating areas that offer a variety of amenities: • The Colonnades Club has outdoor seating under a balcony that protects fans from the elements. Club
members enjoy extra-wide seating in theater-style chairs, along with access to the club lounge, a VIP lobby, enhanced restrooms and exclusive dining options. â€˘ The 77 Club offers similar features as the Colonnades Club, but the luxury seating is indoors. Closed-circuit television helps keep fans involved in the game. â€˘ The Memorial Stadium Suites, the ultimate luxury, are especially attractive to businesses that want to treat employees and clients. The lease of a suite includes 18 tickets to each home game, priority parking, gourmet catering, a private bar and windows that can open in nice weather or remain closed.
During his visits to other schools, Hood came to see that the design of club space was vital to a stadium renovation project. â€œClub spaces have become places for people to have events,â€? he said. â€œMemorial Stadiumâ€™s new club space hosts wedding receptions, community events and fundraisers. We spent more money on finishes and the end product knowing it would be used on a year-round basis.â€? Above the pavilion, in the press box, game-day staff work to ensure that games run smoothly. The new press box offers far more space as well as modern amenities, better seating and improved sightlines. Enhanced technology like high-speed wireless Internet helps members of the press work more efficiently. The network television booth is several times
larger than the old space, and thereâ€™s additional room for outside media. One of the biggest highlights of the renovation isnâ€™t even visible to fans. Along with the new permanent seating structure, the north end of the stadium features a two-story, 30,000-square-foot weight room and a football recruiting lounge. It also houses strength coachesâ€™ offices and locker rooms for coaches and staff. Head coach Ron Zook loves to show off the space to football recruits, according to Hood. Large glass walls allow recruits to take in the sights of the stadium and then walk directly on to the field. â€œTo look right out on the field, sit up next to the band and the students â€Ś thatâ€™s impressive,â€? Hood said.
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Realizing Recreation for All Handicapped-Accessible Fishing Piers
he W.K. Kellogg Foundation has funded a $15 million grant initiative to allow increased access to recreation. Spread throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, the program has funded development of more than 40 new recreation venues. In Champaign County, the Access to Recreation grant is administered by the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois. The foundation worked with the Champaign Park District, the Urbana Park District, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) to evaluate how
this grant money could best be applied. The organizations all saw a need for universally accessible fishing piers for both adults and children. The Community Foundation is overseeing development of accessible fishing piers at Champaignâ€™s Kaufmann Lake, Urbanaâ€™s Crystal Lake Park and the Forest Preserveâ€™s River Bend location. Floating platforms are attached to the shore by an accessible ramp, and transition plates make a barrier-free path from the ramp to the pier. Special railing allows those who are seated to fish through the rail, and small stations are handy for tackle boxes and workspace.
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â€œWhen the fishing piers are completed, they will offer a form of recreation that people with certain disabilities would never have had the chance to experience,â€? said Tony OligneyEstill, CUSR director. â€œCUSR also plans to offer beginning fishing programs to a wide range of people from youth through adult.â€? As part of the grant, the Community Foundation was required to raise a $135,000 endowment to fund additional projects that make recreation accessible for all. The Kellogg Foundation will match this amount dollarfor-dollar, so residents can expect to see more accessible recreation projects in the future.