November Voice 2020

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the November 2020 | Volume 33 | No. 11

Celebrating 110 years! of the rockford business community


Candid conversation with Mayor Tom McNamara Chamber President Einar Forsman and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara sat down for a “Candid Conversation with the Mayor” on October 15th. This was a virtual event to Chamber members presented live and unedited, and offered to members of the business community to hear from the Mayor on a host of issues both in our current environment and longer term as well. The presenting sponsor for this event was BMO Harris Bank.


Mayor McNamara was given a chance to share a “30,000 foot” synopsis as to what is going on in our community since November of 2019, which was the last time he addressed the business community. The Mayor started talking about the “good days” pre-COVID-19. “We had the lowest unemployment in the City of Rockford since it’s been measured. We also had a 25% decrease in violent crime. And, we also did not have a homicide from October to March.” The Mayor also focused on the stable or reduced property tax rate where they added over $6 million to the reserves, thankfully putting the city in a strong

position before the current crisis hit our community. The Mayor reminded the audience that what this community is facing is going on in all major metropolitan areas across the country. This includes the global pandemic, civil unrest, civic engagement following the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and a dramatic increase in violent crime. The Mayor also shared his perspective of how we, as a community, have dealt with these issues and will make us stronger over the long haul. “I think when you look at this year and what it has shown Continued on page 3

RFD breaks ground on 90,000-square-foot international cargo facility

Rockford and Harlem schools are set to receive nearly $2 million in grants to improve students’ access to remote learning technology. The Digital Equity Formula Grants from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act are intended to offer students more reliable access to the technology they need to participate in e-learning. School districts can use the funds to expand connectivity and provide students with devices like computers or tablets. Funds will be distributed using a need-based formula. Visit the Illinois State Board of Education website for the full list of schools receiving funds.




Magma Aviation, London, is one of several international companies that are part of Chicago Rockford International Airport’s growing heavy cargo operations.


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Thanks in part to recent agreements with Senator International, Germany, and companies like Magma Aviation, London; Air Atlanta, Iceland, and Longtail Aviation, Bermuda, RFD Executive Director Mike Dunn announced the building of a new, modern cargo facility at a press conference on Oct. 13. The 90,000-sq.-ft, International Cargo Facility will be located on the south side of Chicago Rockford International Airport and house Emery Air, Senator International and other cargo operators. It’s expected to be completed by summer 2021. Emery Air will perform ground handling operations (loading and unloading of aircraft). “We have been working very hard over the last several years to bring in what we call heavy freighters from all over the world,” Dunn said. “With the expansion, we now anticipate the arrival of more new cargo aircraft from around the world in addition

to the UPS and Amazon operations.”

High-Flying Rankings So far for 2020, the airport is on pace to break its own record with 30 percent continued year-over-year cargo growth. Senator International has been flying one 747 freighter a week from Frankfurt, Germany into RFD since June 2020. In mid-October, Senator increased to two flights a week, and RFD anticipates three flights a week after the first of the year. RFD is home to UPS’ second largest North American air operation and is one of Amazon Air’s largest air operations. It ranks as the 19th largest cargo airport in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2019 All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports. It makes the list with far larger airports in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami and Atlanta, and ranks ahead of airports in Phoenix, Portland, Denver and Baltimore. v

PLAN TO IMPROVE AREA’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES The Winnebago County Community Mental Health Board presented key findings from its Environmental Scan Survey of mental health and substance abuse services to the Winnebago County Board on Oct. 8. The findings will guide the development of a three-year strategic plan to improve services. Funding for the services comes thanks to a community vote during 2020 Winnebago County primary election to raise the sales tax one half cent on a dollar to fund mental health services in the area. The halfcent tax will raise an estimated $12 to 13 million each year. Chairman Frank Haney appointed the members of the mental health board. The board will prioritize sales tax proceeds towards services that help individuals whose illnesses prevent their functioning in ageappropriate social roles, with an aim towards helping them remain in the community.



November 2020


EINAR FORSMAN Rockford Chamber President

US Chamber Releases Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll

Across the country, more small businesses report reopening and have cautious optimism about the future despite concerns about a resurgence of the coronavirus according to the latest MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll. The survey focused on the ongoing impact from the coronavirus. This month, more small businesses say they are open, mostly due to an increase in businesses saying they are fully open. Small businesses that temporarily closed at some point since the pandemic began, are more likely to say that they reopened this month (69 percent) rather than in late May (43 percent). This month, 86 percent of small businesses surveyed report they are either fully (52 percent) or partially (34 percent) open, up seven points from 79 percent in May. Still, most small businesses are concerned about financial hardship due to prolonged closures (70 percent) and more than half worry about having to permanently close (58 percent). This month, more expressed concern over the lack of guidance on proper reopening

procedures, up eight percentage points from late May (56 percent vs. 48 percent in May). Though small businesses are pressing onward, concern over a second wave remains high. Two-thirds of small businesses (65 percent) are concerned about having to close again or stay closed if there is a second wave of COVID-19. Concern is particularly high among small businesses that already had to temporarily close (85 percent). The most common actions taken to prepare for a second wave are purchasing additional supplies or products to prevent a future shortage (32 percent), updating websites or social media profiles (29 percent), and increasing e-commerce or digital payment options (25 percent). When it comes to the economy, perceptions of the national economy have steadied after declining sharply earlier this year. Though the overall number saying the national economy is in poor health is unchanged, slightly more say it is “very poor” compared to late May (24 percent now vs. 18 percent then). At the other end of the spectrum, 28 percent say the national

economy is “good” (statistically similar to 24 percent who said the same in May). Fewer small businesses perceive their local economy as in poor health (39 percent) when compared to the national economy (55 percent). Overall, small business views of the local economy are steady: 31 percent view their local economy as in “good” health compared to 28 percent in May. 39 percent see the local economy in “poor” health, statistically unchanged from May (38 percent). 55 percent of small businesses report good overall health, statistically similar to what was seen in late May (53 percent). In comparison, 65 percent reported being in good health in the first quarter of this year. Comfort with cash flow holds steady this month (55 percent reporting comfort now versus 56 percent late May), although significantly below historical readings (above 80 percent in each quarter of 2019). Over the long term, small businesses show signs of guarded optimism, but feel it will be some time before things return to normal. More than half of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the small business climate returns to normal (56 percent), in line with late May’s 55 percent. Another 7 percent think that it will never return to normal. More than half expect next year’s revenues to increase (53 percent vs. 50 percent in May and 47 percent in April), while 18 percent expect them to decrease. Small businesses are now more likely to report plans to increase investments in

the upcoming year (35 percent), up eight percentage points from May. Staffing levels are in flux. 60 percent of small businesses report maintaining the same size staff over the last year (down from 67 percent in May), 20 percent report increasing staff over the same period (up from 13 percent in May), and 17 percent report decreasing staff during that time (similar to 18 percent in May). However, hiring expectations are somewhat improved: More small businesses anticipate increasing staff in the next year, up seven percentage points (30 percent versus 23 percent in late May). v Source: US Chamber of Commerce. For the full report go to https://www.uschamber. com/report/july-2020-small-business-coronavirusimpact-poll

Let your Voice be heard The Rockford Chamber of Commerce welcomes and encourages member submissions for The VOICE of the Rockford Business Community. Deadline is the 15th of the month preceding publication date. Send news releases and other items of interest to the business community to: The VOICE Rockford Chamber of Commerce 308 W. State St., Ste. 190 Rockford, IL 61101 For information about advertising contact Customer Service at 815-987-8100. The VOICE of the Rockford Business Community (USPS 784-120). ISSN number 1086-0630, is published monthly by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, 308 W. State St., Ste. 190, Rockford, Illinois 61101. Periodicals postage paid at Rockford, Ill. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The VOICE of the Rockford Business Community, 308 W. State St., Ste. 190, Rockford, IL 61101.


CANDID CONVERSATION Continued from front page

about our community, it has revealed tremendous strength, tremendous grace.” He specifically cited the business community and how they have adapted and responded during this time. The Mayor also mentioned that the civil unrest we’ve experienced now provides us the opportunity to lasso that long-sought engagement from the community; continue to encourage that communication, and to move our region forward. President Forsman went into the “tough stuff” currently being experienced: crime and violence, the growing homicide rate, pandemic response, protest groups, and city budget issues.

Double the Trouble With regard to crime, the Mayor talked about community policing, and how COVID-19 has interfered with it; how it has been difficult to engage directly with the community in a faceto-face or personal setting. Climbing unemployment rates are linked to an increase in crime, and is impacting family stress. Warring gang factions are the largest contributors to violent crime. These gangs do not share information with the police, making


November 2020

The Mayor also express his concern for the negative impact on bars and restaurants and his and Representative Maurice West efforts to work with the Governor’s office to find solutions to assist them. it difficult to solve certain crimes. The City is investing heavily in technology to further address crime, including body cameras, license plate readers, social media analysis and other resources. Regarding the protest groups, the City has been responding on a number of fronts, including training all employees on implicit bias, cultural awareness and other programs to be responsive to the community. The Mayor also addressed areas of transparency and accountability and “stepping up our communication” on issues associated with police incidents.

Keeping in Touch with the Public The City has held over 25 public and private listening sessions that helped them develop themes around accountability, community engagement, investment in our community, and

transparency. The Mayor and City officials have had regular meetings with community groups throughout Rockford. With regard to mental health calls for public safety, the City recently announced a pilot program whereby a social worker, EMS officer and a police officer will respond jointly to de-escalate the incident. The Mayor touched on the importance of Rockford Promise to the community, giving people hope for their own future, supporting education and workforce. A program like this can bring more residents to the community, lower crime through higher education attainment, and providing youth the education they need. “I feel a need that is incumbent on us not to offer a hand out, but a hand up, and give them the opportunity to see something that they may not be seeing in their own home, or block or even in their city.” In discussing pandemic response, the Mayor emphasized that we, as a community, have to be vigilant about our own safety and protection to get through this crisis, including following the protocols recommended by our health officials. The Mayor also expressed his concern for the negative impact on bars and restaurants. He and representative Maurice West are working with the Governor’s office to find solutions to assist them.

Stimulus and Finances President Forsman and the Mayor also discussed pending stimulus discussions going on nationally and how they can assist local businesses as well as local governments. From a financial perspective, the City has put together a balanced budget each of the last three years. They have also built up their reserves to $6 million dollars, and dropped the property tax rate by thirteen percent since 2017. The City sees an impact on having a potential deficit, but, is in a position to mitigate that from reserves and other actions. Next the Mayor shared his perspective on some difficult circumstances with the Rockford Park District and their proposed action plans. These include the closing of Riverview Ice House, Mercyhealth Sportscore I, and the deemphasis of tourism-related sports activities at the UW Sports Factory. The Mayor cited a moral and equitable argument, a civic argument, and a financial argument about his concern over the proposed action plan. Looking forward, the Mayor was asked to comment on the goals and priorities for the community, including public safety and economic development. The Mayor spoke of the recent opening of the Family Peace Center, a significant success for the entire Continued on page 17



November 2020

New Chamber Board Members slated The Chamber’s nominating committee, headed by board member Rick Zumwalt presented a slate of nominees for the Chamber Board of Directors at its October 27 meeting. In announcing the slate of candidates, Chamber President Einar Forsman noted that there were many qualified candidates for each position on the board. “We’re confident those members nominated will represent the Rockford area business community with distinction.” New Board members are recommended to be nominated for a three-year term to begin January 1, 2021 are.

Joel Prah, Mercyhealth Lesly Couper, workplace For an additional three-year terms, the following individuals are recommended for reappointment under our bylaws: Doug Curry, Stenstrom Construction Group (For a 2nd term) Terry Voskuil, Woodward (For a 2nd term) Kim Blascoe, Wipfli LLP (For a 2nd term)

Dan Ross, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (For a 3rd term) Ira Grimmet, Collins Aerospace (For a 3rd term) Mike Paterson, Mid-West Family Broadcasting (For a 3rd term) Rebecca Epperson, Chartwell Agency (For a 3rd term) Timothy Honquest, Honquest Family Funeral Home with Crematory (For a 3rd term) To be elected as an officer for the coming 2-year term, to begin January 1, 2021 and expire December 31, 2022: Vice Chair, Don Daniels, SwedishAmerican, A Division of UW Health Treasurer, Amy Ott, Boylan Catholic High School Rick Zumwalt will complete his service on the board on December 31, 2020. The Board will vote on the nominating committee’s recommendations at its November 24, 2020 meeting. For more information about the board nomination process, contact Einar Forsman at 815.316.4304.

Sponsoring an NIU College of Business consulting team Northern Illinois University College of Business is offering organizations – from large to small; established to startup; non-profit to for-profit – an effective way to extend its workforce, using a team of college students that can address their nagging business issues. There’s two consulting programs to choose from: the Experiential Learning Center (ELC) and Business in Action (BIA). Organizations served in the past have included Caterpillar, RAMP, YMCA of Rock River Valley, Echo Global Logistics and Rock King LP (Burger King).

The Experiential Learning Center The College of Business Experiential Learning Center strives to create unique real-world educational experiences for NIU students while providing measurable value to external organizations. Consultant teams of four to eight hand-picked upperclassman and graduate students, assisted by sponsoring organizations, faculty coaches, assistant coaches and advisory board members, work on a business issue and provide solutions and strategies to help the organization move forward. Topics addressed in the past have included marketing strategies, KPI development, business plan development,

new product launch, employee retention strategies and data analytics. Visit www. to see examples of existing partnerships.

Business in Action Business in Action student consulting projects provide organizations with external perspectives, extra research horsepower, unbiased recommendations and general business knowledge. Sponsoring organizations have a unique opportunity to build their consumer and employment brands with more than 100 NIU College of Business Freshmen. Throughout the 16-week semester, Business in Action consulting teams get to know the early start-up; small, local business or established franchise, including its culture and values. They offer solutions in sales and marketing channel assessment, marketing strategy development, product catalogue development, formalization of accounting systems, pricing strategy analysis, mitigating the impact of the minimum wage increase, strategy development and more. For more information on sponsoring a team, please contact Jason Gorham, director, business consulting for the College of Business at or 779-702-1671


November 2020




Header Die & Tool:

PASSING THE TORCH FROM FATHER TO SON By Paul Anthony Arco During high school, Lucas Derry worked in his father’s company – mowing lawns, learning machine work and cleaning sludge off the floor. Little did Lucas know that he’d one day take over for his father as president of that company, Header Die & Tool. Founded in 1954 as a cold forming tooling supplier to local fastener manufacturers, Header Die and Tool is now a global supplier of cold forming tooling and other specialty manufactured parts. Tom Derry, Lucas’ father, joined the company in 1976. Eventually he bought out the owners and ran the company until Lucas purchased it in 2009. “When the company started in the 1950s, Rockford was a major supplier of fasteners that supported World War II,” Lucas said. “Fastener manufacturers were vertically integrated; they made their own tooling to make their fasteners. They had all that knowledge under one roof. Our founders focused on only tooling, which let our customers focus on making fasteners. It was revolutionary at the time.” Today, Header Die & Tool makes tooling for clients in a number of markets

including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical and agriculture. According to Lucas, the company focuses on short run tightly tolernaced parts, short lead times and complicated specifications. The company opened on 20th Avenue before moving to its current 40,000-squarefoot facility on Eastrock Court in 1984. Over the years, Header Die & Tool has expanded, installed new equipment and reorganized its floor more than once. Following college, Lucas worked for a steel company for a couple of years before returning home to help his father with sales. Lucas has been with the company for 18 years, including 11 as president. “The company wasn’t growing or shrinking, it was at a standstill,” said Lucas. “My father and I often talked business, and he kept me in the loop. I was young and inexperienced, but my dad needed help, and I came back to work with him.” In 2006, Tom Derry suffered a stroke and never returned to work. He died four years ago. “My dad always taught me to surround yourself with good people,” Lucas said. “I believe in elevating people and giving them the space to do what they do.”

All in the Family

Header Die & Tool moved to its current 40,000-square-foot facility on Eastrock Court in Lucas comes from an entrepreneurial 1984. It’s expanded, installed new equipment family. Uncles Jim and Bill run Field Fastener and reorganized its floor more than once. and another uncle, Pat, was president and 40 under 40 honoree. “We always talk CEO of Rockford Process Control. Christmas dinner at the Derry family about continuous improvement being a always included some conversation about journey.” That means Header Die & Tool will work. “It’s who we are,” Lucas said. “A vast continue to evolve. “We’re looking at majority of what you do in life is work.” Header Die & Tool is also like a family. increasing topline revenue which means The company has 50 employees, including growth across the board – more people, skilled machinists, purchasing, sales and more equipment, continuing to diversify,” customer service personnel. The company Lucas said. One thing is certain. Tom Derry has many long-tenured employees; three recent retirees left with more than 100 years would be pleased. “He might not agree with some of the decisions we’ve made, of experience. “Our staff is great,” Lucas said. “They but ultimately he would be proud of the are especially knowledgeable about what organization he worked so hard to build,” we produce, and what our customers need. said Lucas. “This company is about the We’re really informed about the final employees. I’m just fortunate to lead it.” application and that’s what sets us apart.” Header Die & Tool was named the Rockford Chamber’s Manufacturer of the Year in 2013. “It was a neat way to be recognized for many of the changes we’ve made over the years,” said Lucas, a former

HEADER DIE & TOOL President: Lucas Derry 3022 Eastrock Court 815-397-0123



November 2020

Is the “nontraditional student” becoming more typical? The U.S. Census Bureau compiles percentages of students working full time, married, with kids.

Rockford University increases enrollments across the board By Barbara Connors Rockford University announced some of its largest enrollment numbers in more than three decades, with a freshman class this fall that increased 39 percent over last year, from 152 students to 212. Overall, the university has 924 full-time undergraduate students, representing a 10 percent increase year-over-year. Enrollments had been tracking ahead of goal since last fall, according to Dr. Eric Fulcomer, president of Rockford University, and with the start of the pandemic, never leveled off. In fact, the university experienced a bump in enrollments throughout the pandemic. “Students seemed to want to stay closer to home, possibly thinking a smaller school would provide more opportunities for in-person education.” This trend seemed particularly strong among the newly graduated high school students entering freshman year. The university has a few classes solely online but the majority are hybrid, with students from the same classes alternating in-class and remote days for greater spacing in the classroom. Enrollments also increased for the university’s master of arts in teaching program (up 36 percent) and the master of education degree program (up 53 percent) over last year. “The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has resulted in many students reevaluating career paths and determining that now is an ideal time to pursue a higher education,” said Michael Quinn, interim vice president for enrollment management. “It bodes well for our region.”

Nationwide Decline in College Enrollment The trend overall was a decrease in enrollments in higher education this year, according to Dr. Fulcomer. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse, launched a new report to go over the next two years on how the pandemic is changing higher education, including student success and completion rates. Data will be collected from more than 3,600 postsecondary institutions; representing 97 percent of the nation’s postsecondary enrollments in degree-granting institutions. According to the center’s Spring 2020 Current Term Enrollment Estimates report, there already was a pre-pandemic decline in enrollment of 1.3 percent, However, this was less than the 1.9 percent decline in spring of 2019.

Educational Engagement: New Challenges More than 85 percent of college and university presidents reported to the NSCRC being highly concerned about accelerated rates of student attrition due to remote learning. From a long-term perspective, 81 percent were concerned about their ability to maintain student engagement. In April 2020, 98 percent of institutions reported replacing the majority of in-person classes with remote learning. Yet the July supplemental report showed that most students stayed enrolled in spring 2020, with only 7,000 students taking leaves of absence. Continued on page 18


November 2020


Resources for managing teleworkers Both the public and private sector workforces are on the brink of a powerful shift towards advanced and highly efficient mobile working, according to the U.S. General Services Administration. Even before the onset of Covid; forcing a large portion of the workforce to set up shop at home, it’s been common practice for group projects to involve staff members working in disparate locations.

The Basics Implementing telework in an efficient manner means following a judicious evaluation of the needs and constraints of the organization, as well as a clear delineation of roles. Facilitate a teleworking protocols meeting with your team: Host a conversation to identify your organizational norms and protocols for teleworking to reach consensus on what “teleworking as a team” looks like for your work environment. Build a trusting environment: Use telework as an opportunity to foster trust between employees and management. Rigid monitoring of employees’ daily activities hinders productivity and creates an environment of distrust. Established, agreed-upon metrics for productivity ensure long-term team success. Monitor performance: Hold employees accountable for their work fairly and promptly. Telework does not create inefficiencies, but rather exposes them. Host check-in opportunities for mobile and in-office team members. Stay connected: Ensure all team members know the best and expected vehicles for communication. Commit with each other to an acceptable response period. Be just as responsive to direct reports and colleagues as you expect them to be. Be transparent: Use shared calendars, instant messenger, email out-of-office messages, desk signage and other transparent communication vehicles to inform your team members of your work status. Manage by results, not by physical presence: Do not confuse worker activity with the results those activities produce. Establish a clear definition of objectives

and performance indicators, and ensure close monitoring of those indicators along with ongoing training for teleworking employees.

Technology for Telework Ensure that your mobile workplace has the following capabilities: ■ Access to shared digital drives, databases and regularly used computer programs from multiple locations or computers. ■ An instant messaging tool for quick, efficient online dialogue between colleagues. ■ Email capable of being accessed remotely, perhaps hosted “in the cloud,” on an external digital server. ■ Mobile phones, along with the ability to tether that device to a mobile laptop and connect to the Internet anywhere the phone has cellular service. ■ Creation and use of digital signatures in writing and PDF applications.

Telework Meeting Etiquette ■ When scheduling any meeting, set up a conference line so that coworkers always have the option to participate remotely if necessary. ■ When sharing documents during the meeting, plan ahead and send files to any coworkers who will be participating remotely, or setup a virtual collaboration room, using agency-approved technology; such as Adobe Connect, Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc. ■ If there are more than two or three people in the physical meeting, make it a habit of stating your name when you speak to help avoid confusion about who is talking. ■ Encourage participation from remote participants. Team members sitting in on the other end of the phone line have no way of signaling to the group that they want to speak. ■ Manage engagement. When possible, have remote workers lead a portion of the call so that they have an active role. ■ If there are several remote workers

on the line, take time at the beginning of the call to ask them to mute their phone lines when they are not talking in order to minimize background noise.

Conference Call Etiquette ■ When participating in meetings, find a quiet space and join the meeting from somewhere free of loud background noise; mute your phone to minimize background noise. ■ If some team members are physically in the room, make sure they speak close to the phone so people on the conference line are able to hear clearly. ■ Be an active listener by verbally acknowledging that you are listening; using short statements to paraphrase the main takeaways and asking for permission to ask questions. ■ Regularly give and receive feedback. When giving feedback to your colleagues, ensure it is specific, constructive and empathetic. Use your feedback to discuss outcomes and actions. ■ Be fully engaged. Avoid multi-tasking or reading emails. ■ If you have something to contribute or missed something that someone said, be sure to jump in rather than waiting to be asked as meeting facilitators cannot read your body language and may not recognize the need to pause and invite

your participation. ■ If participating in a meeting via webcam, be presentable. Remember, getting dressed for work will help you get in a mindset for work. ■ Keep your calendar up to date to avoid confusion and breakdown in communication.

Ways to Stay Connected ■ Let colleagues, managers, and customers know where and when you are working. It is important that others know how to reach you, and when you are available for meetings. ■ Share your calendar with your team members. ■ Use the email subject line to alert the reader to the topic, the level of urgency and the required action. ■ Stay connected by answering calls and responding to emails promptly. ■ Agree to communication guidelines with your manager and team members to establish a common expectation for responding to queries and emails. ■ Decide with your manager and team whether it would be helpful to designate core hours or days when team members are in the office or available for meetings and conference calls. Sources: and



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Small Business Enterprise Women entrepreneurs— from ideas to businesses MIKE MASTROIANNI SBDC

Challenges faced — and overcome — in building a successful business

October is Women’s Small Business Month, and so, we would like to highlight a few of our clients. The SBDC has worked with a large number of clients this year due to the Coronavirus, but also due to the people still trying to start or grow their business. Fifty-three percent of our clients are woman-owned businesses, and 53 percent of our clients are minorityowned businesses as well. Here are some thoughts from our female-owned and co-owned businesses.

Brisa Berumen My company is Seabreeze NonEmergency Medical, and I am the CEO. We transport individuals to medical and community events; working with at-risk populations that need our services. We take extra precautions to ensure that the members are transported safely and that

the employees are protected. I have faced challenges with stereotypes and attitudes from vendors (they sometimes think I’m the secretary and ask to speak to the owner) and from providers at times too. My husband sometimes is treated differently when servicing vehicles as well. But we are going strong, and are grateful to the SBDC for their help, especially in marketing and financing.

Bryanna Herron My company is Rose Paralegal and Typing Services. I am doing really well, despite the pandemic. A lot of employers are hiring, and my resume business is helping people get jobs. I help people locally, but also nationally. My greatest challenge has been access to capital. Because of that, I still need to work, because I can’t do the business full

time without it. I am currently working on a building and on marketing my services. The SBDC has helped me with advising, tools and resources to help with marketing and sales projections and the business planning software that really helped me organize the intricate details of my business.

Amy Randolph My husband and I purchased the Cherry Valley Garden Center in 2020. When we looked at the property, my husband John said we should take the leap, and I reluctantly agreed. With his knowledge of technology and repair, it made the decision easier. I have been in retail for 30-plus years and am an avid gardener. I’ve done every job in retail except sales. Our customers have been the best I’ve ever had the joy of working with. We hit the ground running when we opened and planted in February. Then the pandemic hit, and we had to close; then, we were told we were essential and could do curbside pickup. I run the day-to-day operations and update the website that the SBDC helped us create. They also helped us with due diligence when first considering buying the business and helped with the business plan.

The most challenging part of being a woman in business was to find my voice and juggle family time. I’m still learning new things. You’ve heard “Behind every great man is a woman.” For me, I’m lucky to say, “Behind every great woman, there is a very patient and supportive man.”

Eva Kretschmar RBG Janitorial started in January of 2018. I am it’s owner and president. The SBDC helped provide countless strategic resources and connections that took us from idea to a company serving three states in just two years. Many of our staff come from local organizations, those aiding veterans and from people of all abilities. With the pandemic, we are catering our services and pricing to small- to medium-sized businesses.




including touch-free disinfection. Like most women, the challenge is to balance everything. I want to do it all and do it well, but I realize that by surrounding myself with good people, I can accomplish that goal. Mike Mastroianni is director at the Illinois Small Business Development Center in Rockford.





Annual Illinois requirement for employers by year-end

Illinois law now requires what has always been a good idea: Sexual harassment training for all employees. 775 ILCS 5/2-109. The law became effective Jan. 1, 2020, and the training must be provided at least annually to all employees, so an employer can still satisfy the requirement by training employees before Dec. 31, 2020. All employers with employees working in the state of Illinois are required to use a sexual harassment prevention training program created by the Illinois Department of Human Rights or another program that satisfies the law’s requirements. There is an exception for government agencies subject to another law. There is a special training program for restaurants and bars. The program must contain: 1. an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the Human Rights Act; 2. examples of sexually harassing conduct; 3. a summary of federal and state law

concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and 4. a summary of employers’ responsibilities to prevent, investigate and correct sexual harassment. The department’s program is available in PowerPoint® and pdf format. The department also requires the employer to keep a paper or electronic record of the training, including the names of employees trained, date of training, a copy of certificates of participation (if any), a copy of written training materials and the name of the training provider. The employer should retain the record, but not send it to the department.

How Good is the Department of Human Rights’ Training Program? From an employer’s point of view, the department program is legalistic and generic. The training focuses heavily on contacting the Illinois Department of

November 2020

Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, rather than emphasizing that the employee should first report sexual harassment internally. The department’s program also ignores the employer’s sexual harassment policy, which should be the first line of defense against sexual harassment, not an afterthought. An employer that relies solely on the department’s training program will miss an opportunity to educate employees about its sexual harassment policy and about conduct of special concern in its


workplace. The employer should instead consider creating its own program using qualified advisors, or, at least supplement the department’s written materials with a discussion of the employer’s own sexual harassment policy and how to report sexual harassment under the policy. John Rearden, Jr., is an attorney with Oliver Close LLC. The views expressed are those of Rearden’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

Gov. Pritzker proposes principles to modernize criminal code Governor JB Pritzker has proposed seven guiding principles to reform and modernize the state’s criminal justice system, in partnership with the General Assembly. 1. End the use of the cash bail system and limit pretrial detention to only those who are a threat to public safety. The cash bail system would be replaced by a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of a defendant’s appearance at trial and if there is a threat to public safety posed by a defendant’s pre-trial release. 2. Modernize sentencing laws on theft and drug offenses and use a public health approach to address mental health and addiction. Illinois would decrease unnecessary admissions into prison, match modernized sentencing standards across the country and limit criminal justice system involvement for non-violent offenders who need and would benefit from a public health intervention. 3. Reduce excessive lengths of stay in prison by providing pathways for people to earn opportunities for rehabilitation. The state will increase access to sentence credit and timelimited supervised release while limiting penalty enhancements and short-term commitments that disproportionately trap low-income families and people of color in generational cycles of incarceration. Prioritize rehabilitation and 4. reduce the risk of recidivism by increasing access to housing and healthcare for returning residents. The state is committed to expanding opportunities, supports and services for people who are exiting the prison system so that they are set up to succeed upon return to their communities, and which will save taxpayers money by reducing the number of people trapped in a cycle of recidivism. Increase police accountability 5. and transparency for police officers and police departments. Advocate for licensing of police officers, strengthening the role of the State Police Merit Board, working alongside police departments to ensure compliance and proper use of body-worn cameras, creating a state-level

avenue to investigate systemic police misconduct and removing barriers for civilians to report officer misconduct, like the signed affidavit requirement. 6. Update and strengthen statewide standards for use of force by police officers. Modernize the legal standard for use of force and implement common sense policies and trainings that are consistent with best practices and improve police-community relations. This includes requiring police officers to apply first aid after using force, prohibiting no-knock search warrants, requiring the use of de-escalation techniques and requiring officers to intervene and report when excessive force is used by another officer. 7. Improve interactions with police by decriminalizing minor non-violent offenses, improving police response to crowd control and increasing language and disability access. Decriminalize minor non-violent offenses, create policies and trainings for police response to nonviolent crimes and protests and increase language and disability access for civilians.

Actions Already Taken In partnership with the General Assembly, the administration has established policies for discretionary parole for young adults facing long sentences and increased the amount of incentives available for educational and wellness programming through sentencing credits. Illinois also has banned private correctional centers and private immigration detention centers. The governor signed legislation that ensured that the 20,000 people detained pre-trial can vote while in detention. This, in addition to offering first-time registration forms to interested eligible voters in custody, as well as nonpartisan educational sessions on the voting process, current events and government institutions for those near the end of their incarceration. Through the law legalizing cannabis, more than 11,000 individuals have been pardoned for low-level cannabis offenses, with more expected over the coming months.


November 2020


DAN WADE HolmstromKennedyPC

Is your company liable if an employee’s family member gets COVID?

May a business be liable if an employee contracts COVID-19 in the workplace and then passes it on to family members? At least two such cases have been filed in Illinois. A case filed in Kane County by the daughter of Esperanza Ugalde alleges that Ugalde died of COVID-19 after Ugalde was exposed to the virus at work and brought it home. A second case in Will County alleges that Miriam Reynoso suffered serious organ damage after contracting the virus from her husband, who allegedly contracted it at work. These cases assert that businesses should be held responsible if they expose their workers’ families to the virus by failing to adequately protect their workers. They are based on “take-home” asbestos cases, allowing suits against businesses for personal injuries to family members caused by workers bringing asbestos dust home on their clothing. Two appellate courts in Illinois have considered the viability of these asbestos claims and are split on the issue, with one allowing

the claim and the other declining to do so. Neither the Illinois Supreme Court nor our Second District Appellate Court has ruled on the issue. Unlike workers compensation claims, in personal injury cases actual damages are not capped and punitive damages are available. To mitigate the risk of such litigation, businesses should pay close attention to and be compliant with current requirements and guidance from local, state and federal health organizations. Links to these resources may be found at

Take Precautions, and Document There are many reasons to remain compliant with the latest guidelines. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Acts were amended to create a rebuttable presumption that “front line employees” who contract COVID-19 did so in the workplace. “Front line” employees



Be aware: New cases in Illinois are setting a precedent include workers at essential businesses who encounter members of the general public or work in employment locations having more than 15 employees. The presumption of job-relatedness may be rebutted through evidence the employee was exposed elsewhere, was off work 14 or more days before the onset of the virus, or that the employer complied with the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). While the precautions to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace vary by industry, some apply to all businesses. To reduce the risk of transmission, IDPH recommends face coverings, adjustment of workspaces and other measures to maintain social distancing, hand washing and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces. It also is important to educate employees and use signage as reminders of precautions. Employers also need a plan for documenting and containing COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace. The CDC states that the following are examples of policies that should be modified in accordance with recommended best practices and consulted during an outbreak: employee health screening, health monitoring, sick/ medical leave policies, telework policies,

return-to-work criteria, training policies, respiratory protection programs, and standard operating procedures. If an outbreak occurs, employers should take immediate action by identifying affected employees and areas through contact tracing, isolating those employees based on latest quarantine guidelines, and thoroughly disinfecting the affected area. For contract tracing, employers may follow a “6-15-48” rule: identifying those who worked within 6 feet of an infected employee, for 15 minutes or more, within the period starting 48 hours prior to a sick individual showing symptoms and ending when the infected employee is cleared to discontinue self-isolation. These “6-15-48” employees should self-quarantine for 14 days. The COVID-19 pandemic is continuously evolving and guidelines are frequently updated. Businesses should review the latest guidelines on a weekly basis and update their workplace policies accordingly. Dan Wade is an employment law attorney with HolmstromKennedyPC and may be reached at dtw@hkrockford or 815-962-7071. The views expressed are those of Wade’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.



November 2020



Patent Office Pilot Program to encourage COVID19-related inventions

On Sept. 17, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (patent office) launched a new pilot program in an effort to incentivize inventors to find solutions to COVID-19. Under the new pilot program, filing fees for provisional patent applications may be deferred and, in some cases need not be paid at all if certain conditions relating to COVID-19 are met. The pilot program is reserved for provisional patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(b). Nonprovisional patent applications or international applications designating the United States are not eligible for participation. Currently, inventors enjoy the economic advantage provided by the patenting right of exclusion. In exchange for the right of exclusion, the patent application is laid open to the public so that its technical subject matter becomes part of the total available information in the field of the invention. This information sharing permits others to improve upon the invention and even to practice the invention once the patent term expires. As inventors seek to address the COVID-19 outbreak, the patent office recognizes that COVID-19 requires creative solutions to solve. The intent of its new pilot program is to further incentivize inventors by providing a cost-effective means to disclose their ideas without losing their right to claim what is described and enabled by their disclosure. The patent office believes the public may benefit from the efforts of inventors seeking to address the COVID-19 outbreak sooner than would otherwise be possible. The belief is that early public disclosure will facilitate collaborations, partnerships or joint ventures that will speed up the development of important solutions to COVID-19.

How to Qualify To qualify for the pilot program, the subject matter disclosed in the provisional patent application must concern a product or process related to COVID-19, and the product or process must require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for COVID-19 use, whether the approval has been obtained, is pending or will be sought prior to marketing the subject matter for COVID-19. Participants in the pilot program are required to submit a technical

In exchange for the right of exclusion, the patent application is laid open to the public so that its technical subject matter becomes part of the total available information in the field of the invention. This information sharing permits others to improve upon the invention and even to practice the invention once the patent term expires. disclosure, a provisional application cover sheet and a certification and request form to participate in the pilot program. The patent office will upload the technical disclosure and the certification and request form













and the cover sheet as a filing of a provisional application. In exchange for the disclosure of the technical subject matter, the pilot program participants may defer payment of the provisional application filing fee until a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application is filed. The basic filing fee does not need to be paid by those who desire publication of the technical subject matter in the collaborative database but do not make a benefit or priority claim in a corresponding later-filed application. Later-filed nonprovisional, international or foreign application should be filed not later than 12 months after the date on which the provisional application was filed if a benefit or priority claim to the provisional application is to be made. Applicants are advised to take into consideration the prior art implications of their submissions. Timothy P. Naill is a registered patent attorney in the Rockford office of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., and a member of the Intellectual Property Practice. Contact 815-654-5625 or The views expressed are those of Naill’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.



Spelling it out in your employee handbook JAMES KANE Sosnowski Szeto, LLP

Adding policies to meet today’s critical workforce issues

During the current pandemic, many companies are left to wonder where to even start regarding the rapid changes to the day-to-day administration of their company and their employees. In the ever-changing climate of employee administration, anticipating and understanding the needs of your company and your employees is of paramount importance. Having an employee handbook as a one-stop-shop for most employee questions will ensure equitable administration of company rules and will provide your employees with the tools they need to succeed. There are several policies that companies should consider adding to address effective employee administration in a COVID-19 world:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Leave Policy A FFCRA policy should contain definitions of “child,” “individual,” “childcare provider,” and “school closure.” This policy should further spell out when employees are eligible for leave, what documentation is required for an employee to qualify for this leave, whether the leave will be offered in intermittent increments, and if and when an employee will be required to substitute or run concurrently paid accrued time with this leave.

remote workforce. Employers should keep in mind that Illinois law requires employees who incur necessary expenses to work from home, to be reimbursed for these expenses. Personal computers, mobile phones and in-home Internet service are just a few of the examples that could likely constitute necessary expenditures that need to be reimbursed at a reasonable amount. However, by establishing a written employee expense reimbursement plan which specifies the types of expense that are “necessary,” employers can limit this reimbursement. Specifically, an employee is not entitled to reimbursement when: 1. the employer has an established written expense reimbursement policy and the employee failed to comply with the policy; or 2. the employer did not authorize the employee to incur the necessary expenditure.

Data Privacy and Security/Use of Company Equipment Policy

Generally speaking, all policies that apply while employees are on company premises will apply while employees are at home. However, monitoring employee conduct in a remote workforce can be difficult. Employer liability for harassment and discrimination does not change when employees begin working remotely. Employers should consider outlining expectations for establishing a home office and should try to set fixed work hours and meal/rest periods. Employers should consider implementing strict policies regarding times when work may be performed by non-exempt employees. To limit the potential for employees accruing overtime, companies should consider implementing restrictions on checking emails/performing work outside of normal work hours without express authorization by a supervisor.

Should employees need to take company property home (i.e., computers, scanners, USB drives), there should be a policy in place to dictate what the appropriate use of this company property is. This policy should also address protocols for employees who use their personal computer/laptop to access company files via a remote server or for checking their work email. If companies are supplying laptops or tablets to remote workers, they should make sure they have purchased enough software licenses for each device. Companies should always read the End User License Agreement (EULA), which dictates what you can and cannot do with software, including how many copies you can install, what the software company can do with your data and what additional software the company can install on your computer. At Sosnowski Szeto, LLP, our firm has seen firsthand in our client representation the importance of crafting and maintaining an employee handbook. As the traditional workplace evolves with a greater emphasis on remote work, it is crucial for your company to have an employee handbook with policies specific to helping navigate the current employment landscape effectively.

Employee Expense Reimbursement Policy

James Kane is an attorney with Sosnowski Szeto, LLP.

Employers should consider creating an employee expense reimbursement plan to limit the costs of engaging a

The views expressed are those of Kane’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

Telecommuting Policy


November 2020




Giving each other just a bit more grace

Last fall, I lost about 30 lbs. I was consistent in my food choices, sticking to my plan and really working on the “why” behind my emotional eating. While I was nowhere near “skinny” (whatever that means), I felt good – both physically and mentally and was excited to keep on my journey. Then, the holidays hit, and I found a few pounds. I wasn’t too worried – all my clothes still fit and it was just 3 to 4, at most. I figured after the holiday season and my daughter’s first birthday in early January, I’d be right back on track! And I sorta, kinda was, if memory is serving me correctly. February was approximately 8,248,582 years ago, so who knows? What I do know, is it all went south in March. In March, I found those 30 lbs. I had hidden them in containers of Ben & Jerry’s. Snuck them away in bags of chips. Tucked them neatly in fast food containers. It took me a bit to search high and low to find every last pound, but sometime by mid-summer, I think I had re-completed my collection. Things didn’t fit like they used to. I found myself stressing over the weight constantly volleying back and forth between being so disappointed in myself and trying to find the grace in all of the stress. Today, I still have those 30lbs tucked neatly on all parts of my body. I can’t hide it. I can’t tuck it away in a closet or Photoshop it out, as much as I would like.


Leadership Development

Things lost … and found … in this year CAITLIN PUSATERI Rockford Chamber



But this story isn’t actually about weight. It’s about grace. Let me be clear – I understand that emotional eating and unhealthy food choices have longlasting consequences on every aspect of your health – mental, physical, emotional. I’m not advocating for carefree, unhealthy lifestyles, though that’s somewhat how I’m currently surviving. I’m not actually talking about food at all – I’m talking about finding the ability to give ourselves – and everyone around us – copious amounts of grace right now.

We’ve All Been Affected COVID-19 has hit us hard. For some, it has meant extreme loss or sickness. For others, it’s been a shuttering or slow dismantling of their business. For others, it has bred loneliness and isolation. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – no one is really left untouched by this. For me, it has been extremely stressful. At the start of the pandemic, my husband and I were abruptly (but thankfully) transitioned to workfrom-home … with a toddler … and no daycare …. And no family help. My mom is currently in active treatment for her second breast cancer, which means, among a host of other things, she cannot get sick. With very little of her immune system still intact (the double edged sword of chemo), a sickness like

COVID could be deadly (as it is for many people, cancer or not). My husband and I began getting up at 4 a.m., to try to fit in work before my daughter woke up. We took turns playing with her and trying to get work done, while trying to keep maintaining a household. We worked after she went to bed and before we dropped our exhausted bodies into bed ourselves, just to do it all over again the next day. And please, I can’t not overstate this – we have been the lucky ones. We have not lost jobs, we have not lost our business, we have not been sick, we have not lost family to this terrible disease. And yet, we have sat surrounded by stress disguised as laundry strewn about, toddler toys everywhere, and a dog who just needs to go on a walk, tears streaming wondering how we’d get through another day. And so, we relied on old, unhealthy habits to give us moments of cookie-dough-filled pleasure. Moments of cheesy-basked hope. Small seconds of salty reprieve. Was it healthy? Nope – in no way. Did it help right then and there? A little. And that’s what we needed. I know my story isn’t unique. When we see people in the flesh again, our arms may be filled with more of them to hug than pre-pandemic. I’m hoping we are just so happy to be embraced that we don’t mind the extra rolls. People’s faces may be fuller, their eyes a little darker – we’ve all been through trauma and may still be struggling with grief. Or, perhaps there will be a bit less of someone as we hold their hands and just sit in silence, relishing in the memories of someone taken too soon. It’s hard to say how each and every person will be transformed,

but it’s easy to say that, in some way, they will be different than before. As leaders, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to see that change and hold space for it for others. We don’t need to acknowledge the 30 pounds – no one likes that. Holding space may mean giving extra grace on a deadline, if possible, when you know someone’s struggling with balancing remote learning and work. It may mean an extra Zoom call just checking in to see how they are really doing. It may mean more patience, more understanding, and more humility in how we share our stories. No one likes to admit they’ve found 30 pounds. But I’m guessing I’m certainly not alone in my treasure hunt of treats. Now is not the time to tout how strong, brave and unaffected we have been by this. We need less “strength” and more understanding. Less “rising from the ashes” and more invitations to take up flying lessons again as we all stumble through. Less “you should be over this by now” and more conversation over coffee actually listening, acknowledging and sharing our grief, trauma, and perhaps triumph. There will be so much growth out of this pain. Sometimes it’s vertical growth – in our careers, our marriage and our passion projects. But sometimes it’s horizontal growth – a deeper understanding of self, new pants that allow for more breathing room, the understanding that more quiet may be needed in this crazy, busy world. But hey, growth is growth. And there’s something to learn, gracefully, from all of it. Caitlin Pusateri is vice president, leadership development at the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


SPECIAL SECTION Investment Banking & Financial Services

November 2020


IRS reminds taxpayers of home office deduction rules Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home.

With many people working from home, the thought undoubtedly has come up: “Can I take home office deductions on next year’s taxes?” The Internal Revenue Service encourages self-employed taxpayers, independent contractors and those working in the gig economy to consider taking the home office deduction if they qualify. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the business use of home deduction from 2018 through 2025 for employees. Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home.

Qualifying for a Deduction There are two basic requirements: The taxpayer needs to use a portion of the home exclusively for conducting business on a regular basis. The home must be the taxpayer’s principal place of business. The taxpayer must use part of their home for one of the following: ■ Exclusively and regularly as a principal place of business, or as a place where patients, clients or customers are met in the normal course of a trade or business. ■ A separate structure not attached to a home used exclusively and regularly in connection with a trade or business. ■ On a regular basis for storage of inventory or product samples used in a

trade or business of selling products at retail or wholesale. ■ For rental use. ■ As a daycare facility. The definition of “home” for this deduction: ■ A house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property. ■ Structures on the property, like an unattached garage, studio, barn or greenhouse. ■ No part of the taxpayer’s property is used exclusively as a hotel, motel, inn or similar business.

Qualified Expenses Deductible expenses for business use of home normally include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, casualty losses, utilities, insurance, depreciation, maintenance and repairs. In general, a taxpayer may not deduct expenses for the parts of their home not used for business; for example, expenses for lawn care or painting a room not used for business.

Claiming the Deduction A taxpayer can use either the regular or simplified method to figure the home office deduction. Regular Method: Taxpayers compute the business use of home deduction by dividing expenses of operating the home between personal and business Continued on page 15


November 2020


Experiences during a pandemic

use. Self-employed taxpayers filing IRS Schedule C, Profit or Loss from figure this deduction on Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home. Simplified Option: Taxpayers use a

The U.S. Census Bureau is collecting data to measure household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. The goal is to provide near real-time information to help in the federal and state response and recovery planning. Phase two of the survey runs from Aug. 19 to Oct. 26. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Phase One Results

prescribed rate of $5 per square foot

Aug. 19 to 31

Sep. 16 to 28

of the portion of the home used for



business (up to a maximum of 300

Expect someone in their household to experience a loss in employment income in the next four weeks.

square feet) to figure the business


use of home deduction. A taxpayer claims the deduction directly on IRS Schedule C. Revenue Procedure 201313 provides complete details of this safe harbor method.

Daycare Facilities Taxpayers who use their home on a regular basis for providing daycare may be able to claim a deduction for part of the home, even if it is used


Household Pulse Survey

Continued from page 14

Business (sole proprietorship) first

SPECIAL SECTION Investment Banking & Financial Services


Live in households where at least one adult substituted some or all in-person work for telework because of the coronavirus pandemic. 10.3%


Lived in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the previous seven days. 7.2%


Not current on their rent or mortgage payment, or have slight or no confidence in making their next payment on time. 33.4%


Percentage of households not current on rent or mortgage that report eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is either somewhat or very likely.

as the same space for nonbusiness



purposes. To qualify, both of the

Live in households where it has been somewhat or very difficult to pay usual household expenses during the pandemic.

following requirements must be met:


■■ The business must provide daycare

Households with post-secondary educational plans that had those plans cancelled or changed significantly this fall.


for children, people age 65 or older or people who are physically or mentally

Total Telework

unable to care for themselves. ■■ The business must have applied



Total Individual Number Population Age 18+


United States


85,824,785 1,012,735







for, been granted, or be exempt from having a license, certification, registration or approval as a daycare center or as a family or group daycare home under state law. v

Telework Percent Margin of Error +/-



Shown is the percentage of adults in Illinois and the United States where at least one adult in a household had substituted some or all of their typical in-person work for telework because of the coronavirus pandemic. This graphic depicts information gathered from Sept. 2 to 14.



November 2020

DR. EHREN JARRETT Superintendent RPS 205

Looking towards the next facilities master plan

The pandemic has radically disrupted our world. That applies to education, too. For 100 years, schools looked pretty much the same. Students sat in rows of desks, their learning dictated by the bus schedule and the bell schedule.

discipline. We improved our facilities. We turned our schools into places where teachers can more easily use the tools of modern technology and collaborative learning. Even so, we can’t rest on our laurels. Our





57 years old and require ongoing

Because one thing is for sure: maintenance and investment. Upkeep There will be no “return to

and replacements ignored today will


cost us more tomorrow. We also must

The coronavirus has changed all that. However, in the Rockford Public Schools, our transformation began before March. We have had to make dramatic shifts because of the pandemic, of course, but it’s also a continuation of a conversation: How will we transform our system for the needs of today and the needs of the next generation of students? Because one thing is for sure: There will be no “return to normal.” We can’t sit back and wait for what lies ahead. But thanks to new, multiyear budgeting tools and processes, we are preparing for our future: projecting our revenues, anticipating pain points and planning for spending beyond the traditional one year into five years. The board will make decisions on restructuring our debt to heed today’s economic conditions, especially the low interest rates that are likely to continue. What’s more, we will be able to address areas in which planning and sustained investment is critical, especially teacher training, technology and facility needs. In 2022, we will close out our 10-year facilities master plan after having built two new elementary schools -- Constance Lane and Cherry Valley -- and having updated all of our buildings. Thanks to two voter-approved referendums, we were able to complete these upgrades. Not only that: We were able to hold the line on our tax levy and give relief to taxpayers in a way that exceeded even our rosiest projections. Our estimated levy for 2020 nearly matches the levy in 2008. We have been able to reduce the tax rate from $7.94 in 2015 to $6.55 for 2020. We were helped by an increase in the estimated assessed value of property in Rockford, which outperformed expected growth. While the EAV has not recovered to pre-2008 levels, we’re certainly in a better place today.

our student population shifts. We can’t

Taking a Fresh Look at Schools Led by our board, we did what we said we were going to do: We practiced fiscal

consider school boundary changes as have some schools near capacity and others underused. The next facilities master plan and the next round of investment in our infrastructure won’t look like 10 years ago, in scope or price tag, but it will reflect the new realities of education. We need to prepare for a future in which school buildings might not be utilized to the extent they were, prepandemic. We don’t know how many of our students might continue learning remotely, follow a hybrid of remote and in-person learning, or choose in-person learning like before. We do know that technology and connectivity will be key. We also know that teachers -- the experienced teachers as well as the brand-new teachers -will need more training in how to best deliver education to all of their students. That applies whether those students are at a desk in a school building or at home in their bedroom. The pandemic is prompting a fresh look at our school system. It’s an unprecedented, unpredictable time of change in education delivery. We didn’t choose it. We will, however, choose to innovate and plan for the future regardless. We will retrain our teachers, continue to invest in technology, protect taxpayers’ investment in our facilities and, most importantly, prepare our students for an uncertain world. Because this we also know for sure: An uncertain world will demand all the skills we can help students develop. Dr. Ehren Jarrett is superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. The views expressed are those of Dr. Jarrett’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


November 2020

 Destination



JOHN GROH Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Stroll on State experiences reimagined for 2020

Visit and like the Facebook page Enhancing civic pride, bringing in the holiday season and helping to spark economic development embodies the essence of Stroll on State since its creation in 2013. With this year’s pandemic, matched with the need for continued regional hope, there may be no better time or bigger moment than this holiday season. Through the creativity of the Destination Development team of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, partners, volunteers and sponsorship support led by Illinois Bank & Trust, we are happy to introduce, Stroll on State, reimagined. Since the onset of the pandemic, it has been our fervent hope that we would be able to hold Stroll on State as we’ve known it in prior years. However, of course, that is not possible or responsible this year. So, while we are not able to gather all together at the same time, we can still come together as a community to celebrate the holidays, support local businesses and look with wonder to the future and the possibilities it holds. With responsibility and safety top of mind, this year’s reimagined Stroll experiences are set to begin Saturday, Nov. 28 in downtown Rockford before extending region-wide with an at-yourleisure, safe selection of in-person and virtual programs. This year’s refreshed Stroll traditions and experiences include a variety of ways to engage from home, experience the Merry and Bright season responsibly and explore locally in support of our small business community.

Some 2020 Highlights ■ Expanded decorations in downtown Rockford and Davis Park, with a relocation of the official City of Rockford Christmas Tree to Davis Park. ■ Extended SantaLand at Rockford City Hall; and six locations around town to drop off letters to Santa. ■ A Merry & Bright Holiday television production on Channel 13, co-produced by WREX, RACVB and Heartland Community Church that will feature a tree lighting program from 6 to 7 p.m., that will conclude with fireworks at multiple locations city-wide, on Saturday, Nov. 28. In addition to Stroll, Dasher Dash supported by Fleet Feet returns as an “At

Home” 5K run/walk. This year’s Dasher Dash is an at-home edition that gives each participant the flexibility to complete the run anytime between Nov. 28 to Dec. 24 and to compete for hometown pride. Participants can make their run/walk more festive and fun by using the RACE JOY app FREE for the Dasher Dash. Those planning to be out of town can also participate, and packets can be mailed out for an additional fee.

More Announcements to Come Core to Stroll on State is supporting local businesses, and we have some exciting ways to help our locally-owned businesses this holiday season. This will include special marketing promotions to help encourage others to share in the support of locally-owned businesses in the region by shopping at local shops and galleries, dining out responsibly or ordering to-go at your favorite local restaurants or bars to share in the important message of taking care of our own. As we look back at this year’s planning, we must thank those who see and understand the vision behind this year’s reimagined event and have shown as such, through their volunteer, in-kind and financial support. Thus far this year, 18 local companies and organizations are providing financial support through sponsorship of a reimagined Stroll on State and Dasher Dash At-Home 5K. Their investment allows RACVB to present the event as a free gift to the community. Thank you to all of our 2020 sponsors and supporters, including our Presenting Sponsor Illinois Bank & Trust. With so many details and more announcements to come, we encourage our community to stay tuned by visiting and like the Stroll on State Facebook Page. While this year’s experiences may look a little different, the passion remains the same: To bring our community together through the heart of the holiday season. John Groh is president/CEO of Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. www. The view expressed are Groh’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


CANDID CONVERSATION Continued from front page

community in addressing domestic violence and human trafficking. This effort involved multiple government agencies working together. There are now 15 agencies tied to the Center providing services. The establishment of the Family Peace Center was accomplished in two years. This is notable as it would normally take 5-10 years. The growth at the Chicago Rockford International Airport, in regards to cargo, was addressed, including the rapid rise in jobs and freight activity. The Executive Director Mike Dunn received tremendous compliments from the Mayor including the great leadership he has provided. Recently, an additional cargo building expansion was announced. Additionally, the Mayor cited development interest in southwest Rockford, and reminded us that we are in the process of having the Hard Rock Casino established in our community. At an October 29th meeting with the Illinois Gaming Board, the decision has been delayed for six months. The City still hopes the proposed casino license will move forward. The Mayor spoke of ways to address blight in neighborhoods and our community as a whole. He


The Mayor cited development interest in southwest Rockford, and also reminded the community that we are in the process of having the Hard Rock Casino established in our community. mentioned that property values have been increasing year-to-year and blight elimination certainly contributes to this. The Mayor touched on efforts in education, including early childhood education and Headstart; where dedicated learning hours per child have doubled. He also acknowledged the work of RPS 205, Alignment Rockford, and other organizations working on early childhood education. In closing, President Forsman asked the Mayor for any thoughts he wanted to leave with the audience, as the conversation was ending. The Mayor emphasized the “we” in the community, and that “we” all need to tackle our challenges together. “Let’s rebuild — let’s make our community, our business community, our education community, our government community — be the community we want.” v



November 2020


“The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has

PHIL EATON Rosecrance

Eaton prepares to pass over leadership after 38 years

resulted in many students

An environment that’s a place of second chances

is an ideal time to pursue a

When Phil Eaton started at Rosecrance in 1971, the 22-year-old social worker saw a great need for the small agency’s services. Working closely with troubled youth, Eaton’s compassion evolved as he grasped the depth of the challenges they faced, and he became a passionate advocate for their care. “It was very overwhelming to contemplate the enormity of taking care of other people’s children,” Eaton recalls. Five decades later, Eaton prepares to step aside from the organization he has led for the past 38 years, now a nationally respected behavioral health network with 60 locations in three states, serving nearly 50,000 individuals each year. Rosecrance president, Dave Gomel, has worked with Eaton for nearly 30 years. “ Phil’s guidance, specifically his relentless pursuits in behavioral healthcare, uncanny ability to successfully push boundaries, and unremitting attention to managing details, has made Rosecrance the leader it is today,” Gomel said. “Working directly for him all of these years has offered an irreplaceable vantage in leadership.” Throughout his career, Eaton has worked to reduce stigma towards substance use and mental health disorders. He has served on the boards of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers and Illinois Association for Behavioral Health. He also has served as president of the Northern Illinois Chemical Dependency Services Network, and is a member of the American College of Addiction Treatment Administrators. He represented behavioral health on

transition teams for three governors. But when asked about his accomplishments, Eaton always points to others: dozens of committed board members, business leaders who provided fundraising support, but first and foremost, the staff. “That fire-in-the-belly passion of our staff to change lives very day,” Eaton reflects. “They are what truly make Rosecrance a place where miracles happen. It’s them.” Chief Marketing Officer Janis Waddell has been with Rosecrance for more than 30 years and knows Eaton’s contributions will be enduring. “I don’t believe it is possible to overstate the number of lives and families that have been saved and healed thanks to the leadership of Phil Eaton,” Waddell said. “His impact on behavioral healthcare, our region and the Rockford community will be felt long after his retirement.”

It’s Taken a Community Eaton also recognizes the longstanding support from the community. Local churches and board leadership have embraced program shifts and expansion that seemed risky in the 1980s and 1990s but ultimately set a visionary course. A partnership with Rockford Public Schools provides teachers at the adolescent residential campus school. Eaton is particularly grateful to Justice Kathryn Zenoff and Judge Janet Holmgren, who pioneered the problem-solving court program in Winnebago County to better serve individuals in need of treatment. Eaton also recalls Rosecrance responding to local employers seeking services for workers struggling with mental health or substance use

reevaluating career paths and determining that now

issues, providing treatment in lieu of termination. “We have been blessed to do this in Rockford, which offers a unique values system and culture that has been so welcoming,” he said. “I truly believe it’s a place of second chances.” Despite all the success, Eaton remains




challenges for behavioral healthcare funding and ongoing work to reduce stigma regarding mental health or substance use disorders. “We’ve made great strides in many sectors, but we haven’t won the battle yet,” he said. “We try to educate, negotiate and prioritize the needs of behavioral health so we can have adequate resources for everyone.” Reflecting on a career of service, Eaton shares the greatest reward has been the many stories of recovery. He maintains that none of his accomplishments would have been possible without his wife of 50 years, Cherri, who was also the young wife of that new social worker and has supported both Eaton and Rosecrance through every challenge and success. When asked to summarize his legacy, Eaton said, “It has little to do with me and is much more about the staff and leadership who have shared the journey. I was just fortunate enough to position things to fulfill a vision. I’ve been blessed to witness the miracle of recovery day in and day out, and how it has healed and changed lives and families. What a privilege.”

higher education.” Michael Quinn, interim vice president for enrollment management.


Heightened Socioeconomic Barriers Students with social and economic barriers, such as consistent access to the internet, a safe learning space and the right technology, were of particular concern to educators with the transition to online learning. Another area was transfer policies and practices. Ascendium, a guarantor of Federal Family Education Loans, provided a grant to the NSCRC with the hope that more reports to come will produce tools to help postsecondary leaders and policymakers make decisions that ensure learners from lowincome backgrounds have equitable opportunities to achieve their postsecondary goals. “Data show that current transfer policies and practices do not result in equitable outcomes,” said Carolynn Lee, program officer. “Improving and refining transfer pathways to better meet the needs of students, especially those who have been historically underserved, will be one of the most important issues we address during and after the pandemic,” said Sarah Belnick, senior program director for College Success at ECMC Foundation, another granting agency.

Article provided by Rosecrance Health Network.

Barbara Connors is editor of The VOICE.


November 2020





Cornel West, American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author and public intellectual said, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” How do we make sure justice is what is happening in our beloved city of Rockford, where many of us live and work? I believe all of us need to play a part in answering this question. How do we ensure that Rockford is a city where justice happens, and as a result, all its citizens are seen, heard and feel like they belong? This is not a question only for our mayor or county board or police department or fire and police commission or our chamber. We must listen to residents to co-create solutions and use ALL our voices to nudge and support leadership to make changes. There are a number of ways one can be involved in solutions to systemic oppression in our city. Ask yourself: Have I been involved in the community book and movie discussions being hosted for the public via Zoom by Eliminate Racism? Have I listened or witnessed

Justice is what love looks like in public

Have I listened or witnessed the calls for

The time for silence is over!

Market and downtown?

the calls for justice that were ringing out every Friday for many weeks near the venue of Rockford City Market and downtown? Have I showed up for the open forums that the mayor and the City of Rockford has held to hear people’s concerns about racism, oppression and violence and get information on initiatives? How many of us are working on addressing issues of equitable inclusion and belonging in our workspaces? How long are we going to continue to see these issues as someone else’s problem to address? Are we going to stand by and allow social differences to be used as fault lines to divide and conquer?

Getting an Outside Perspective Sometimes it helps to have someone from outside our community give us some perspective when we are struggling with system issues that may have left us at an impasse. NICNE, Transform Rockford and other organizations are helping us tap into the expertise and

justice that were ringing out every Friday for many weeks near the venue of Rockford City

wisdom of john a powell, jr, who leads the UC-Berkeley Othering and Belonging Institute. He reminds us that people feeling like they belong means people having a seat at the table and input in conversations, ideas and on policies. It means listening, even if the ways in which people may express themselves does not fit with our usual norms of how grievances are to be aired. john a powell reminds us that the opposite of othering is not “saming.” The opposite of othering is belonging. Rockford is not your city or my city-it is OUR city. Let us “co-create it with all our complexities and dreams,” as powell suggests. What are ways to connect with groups who are so tired of being the ones shot at, excluded, dehumanized or not listened to? Can we stop seeing certain problems, such as those of systemic oppression, as too complex or as someone else’s to solve? Several businesses host training on team building and bringing folks to the table to hear diverse viewpoints. The chamber does a variety of things

to welcome new professionals and businesses. Can we draw from some of these practices? Please join us in making Rockford a city where we see equity, justice, love and belonging as the path to bringing about success for all our citizens! Get to know those you do not understand right now. Share your ideas and input with NICNE or Transform Rockford, or your city representatives and leaders -- all of whom are committed to Rockford’s progress and success and need to hear from diverse voices in our community. Shiraz P. Tata is a psychotherapist, meditation teacher and social justice facilitator and retired from NIU. Pam Clark Reidenbach is executive director at Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence. The views expressed are those of Tata’s and Reidenbach’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.



November 2020



COVID-19 saliva testing delayed at College of Medicine Set up for testing site continues to move forward in Rockford The roll-out in Rockford of SHIELD Illinois’ COVID-19 saliva testing, developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and originally targeted for use in Rockford at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford in late October, tentatively will take place in January 2021 – possibly earlier. The saliva-based COVID-19 test has been used since July to test students and staff at the Urbana campus in the hopes of allowing it to safely reopen. Saliva samples have been analyzed at the U of I’s own labs. By the end of September, more than 400,000 tests have been processed and 2,000 positive COVID-19 cases identified since the beginning of the semester. The delay in getting testing out to partner sites has occurred after the FDA notified the university that UIUC’s lab never received emergency use authorization, which would allow UIUC to make the testing broadly accessible throughout the country. The authorization process is underway, and expectations are for approval shortly of the test for diagnostic and screening purposes. The first Shield Illinois lab will open at the SIU School of Medicine campus in Springfield to validate each aspect of the testing process.

Answering questions you might have of IGNITE Professional development; community engagement are key

IGNITE is the region’s young professional group and is a part of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. IGNITE members do not have to be Rockford Chamber members to join, but IGNITE members are always welcome to learn more about being a member. Our mission is to attract and retain young professionals to the Rockford region. We do this by connecting and engaging young professionals with leadership, professional and personal development and volunteer opportunities. IGNITE’s program is suitable for individuals between the ages of 21 to 40; however, all are welcome in our group! Young professionals can be found in a wide variety of careers and IGNITE is not limited to any specific line of work. Our group is full of diversity, and we would love to keep it that way!

Our community is

Alex Stagnaro-Green MD, MHPE, MHA, regional dean at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford, wrote in a letter to the community of his belief that availability of the saliva testing in Rockford and northwest Illinois will be a “game-changer” in allowing the area and economy to return to more normal operations. The College of Medicine is continuing to move forward on minor modifications to its lab for the secure receipt and processing of specimens. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing equipment has arrived and is being tested by ThermoFisher. Laboratory technicians are being hired. For those interested in starting testing sooner, there may be opportunities to collect samples locally and send them to the lab in Springfield once the emergency use authorization is received. Contact Carol Schuster, assistant dean for operations, at or 815395-5642.

constantly changing and so

Low Cost

Fast Notification

Widespread Testing

Ease of Use

High Accuracy

The SHIELD Illinois test costs $20-30, compared to $100+ for a standard nasal swab test Current notification time for the saliva test is only 6-12 hours compared to a 2-3 day turnaround time for most currently-available tests Through advantages in cost, speed and accuracy, the saliva tests can increase access to testing and control spread by identifying pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers The saliva-based test is non-invasive and does not need medically-trained personnel to collect samples. The saliva test has a specificity rate of 99.8-99.9%, with very few false positives. High specificity, combined with frequent testing makes the SHIELD saliva-based text extremely accurate.

opportunities listed on the IGNITE website or you can check United Way. Community: We are constantly looking for new ways to keep YPs engaged in the community. This is an ever-expanding and changing task, but IGNITE is up for the challenge. We are committed to encouraging our members to be a part of their local community. This could mean encouraging YPs to attend a city council meeting or becoming a mentor for seniors through Alignment Rockford. It could mean writing a column in the Rockford Chamber’s newspaper, The VOICE, or getting involved with Transform Rockford. Our community is constantly changing and so is our involvement, but our commitment to Rockford stays the same. We are always

Moving Forward

Benefits of the Saliva Test

resumes. There are multiple volunteer

is our involvement, but our commitment to Rockford

in 100%. Social: During COVID-19 times, our social aspect of IGNITE looks a little different compared to before. Our focus has been on virtual events and trying to engage our members without

stays the same. We are

adding to the Zoom burnout that we

always in 100%.

are all currently facing.

What Can IGNITE Provide Me? IGNITE focuses on professional development, volunteering, community and social aspects of life. Professional Development: Professional development is a key area for YPs. While in the beginning to middle stages of our careers, it is important that we grow as engaged members of our community as well as professionals. At IGNITE, we provide opportunities to meet key leaders in our community through our Lunch with a Leader series. Our Leadership Team is always happy to help make connections such as jobs, board seats, business opportunities and more. We have a job board and open community board positions listed on our website. Volunteering: As young professionals, it is important that we give back to the communities we live, work, learn and play in. Not only does this help our communities grow stronger and healthier, but it also allows YPs an important chance to expand their networks, engage in the non-profit side of our community, learn more and even improve their

Before COVID-19, we had multiple social events, including our After 5 series. This series introduced IGNITE members to local (or locally owned) establishments that frequently also are Rockford Chamber members. This provided a chance for YPs to kick back, enjoy great food and beverage and get to know one another. Over past summers, we hosted IGNITE




tournament. While we long for these “good old days,” we also have learned that virtual events can be just as fun and engaging. Stay tuned for some future virtual events that are sure to be a blast! To learn more about IGNITE, check out our website (, our Facebook at IGNITE Rockford or our Instagram (igniterockfordyp). If there are ever any questions or if you are interested in joining IGNITE, please contact me at info@igniterockford. com. Carmen Brenz is coordinator for IGNITE and event & program coordinator for the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


November 2020


October named ‘Manufacturing Month in Illinois’

Industry retools; makes important contributions amid COVID-19 The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, along with manufacturing industry leaders, announced the proclamation of October as Manufacturing Month in Illinois. The proclamation recognizes that since COVID-19 hit, manufacturers have played an increasingly important role in protecting and powering Illinois communities, with an estimated more 1,000 Illinois manufacturers and distributors shifting operations to manufacture and deploy the life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to fight the pandemic. The proclamation noted the struggle manufacturers have had to continuously fill more than 25,000 ongoing vacancies in high-paying production and engineering careers. Over the next eight years, it’s estimated that 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs will need to be filled nationwide. Manufacturing is the number one contributor to Illinois’ economy; with roughly 18,000 companies employing more than 550,000 Illinoisans and producing $108 billion in total output.

Manufacturing Stats Nationwide ■ Nearly six in 10 U.S. exporting dollars come from manufacturers.

■ The manufacturing sector employed 11.9 million workers in the United States in 2018 – and the average annual employee payroll was $60,260. ■ The value of shipments rose 9.1% to $6 trillion from 2017 to 2018. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Shop Floor Isn’t What It Used to Be Over the years, manufacturing has transformed into an innovative, hightech industry incorporating robotics, automation and 3D printing into production processes. “The perception of manufacturing has changed over the years from a low-skill, dirty and dangerous job to a high-tech, high-skill and high-paying one,” said Randy Tatum, site manager of the LyondellBasell Morris Complex. The employment outlook is very favorable with a shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing sector due to a retiring workforce and lack of qualified applicants. In addition to plant positions, occupations include human resources, information technology, accounting and sales. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturers in Illinois account for 12.54% of the total output in

the state, employing 9.58% of the workforce. There was an average of 592,000 manufacturing employees in Illinois in 2019, with an average annual compensation of $89,853 in 2018.

Value-Added Benefits For every product that gets manufactured, there are numerous benefits to the supply chain, which includes suppliers of raw materials and transportation as a part of the manufacturing process. This equates to more jobs in a variety of career pathways across multiple sectors. Manufacturing generates more economic activity than any other sector. For every dollar of domestic manufacturing value-added, another $3.60 of economic activity is generated elsewhere across the economy. For every manufacturing job, there are 3.4 jobs created in nonmanufacturing industries. No other sector comes close. Source: Illinois Department of Commerce Office of Employment and Training

Illinois workNet Resources Information on manufacturing careers, wages and trends is available at Illinois workNet Careers. Held annually on the first Friday in October nationwide, MFG Day (Manufacturing Day) encourages thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to show the reality of modern manufacturing careers. Source: The Manufacturing Institute



November 2020





economic development


Reimagining what success looks like for our community

How the economy of the future is impacting us now Thomas Walstrum, a senior business economist in the economic research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, joined the RAEDC (Nov. 11) to discuss the current economic situation for the state of Illinois as well as our region. He also talked about forecasts for the United States and our local economies. Undoubtedly, 2021 and 2022 will be transformed financially and economically by this pandemic. Many of the industries in our region are reliant on international trade, international supply chains and travel – all of which have been greatly impacted during 2020. “It is paramount for our region to understand the long-term implications associated with COVID-19 and how we, as a community, can mitigate our

The decision to reopen a business and find ways to safely keep it open involves the difficult balance of considering the safety of employees and customers with the economic viability of the business. It also includes the accessibility of established and new supply chains. The Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) has been assembling resources to help businesses understand the current situation and what steps are needed to protect employees, customers and supply chains. This also goes into considerations relating to the finances of the company, how they may have changed due to receiving loans, grants or having less money in reserves. Resources include finding personal protective equipment (PPE), videos of previously held webinars tackling leadership topics, legal obligations for employers, and obligations of companies who have received loans or grants related to COVID-19. Employers have experienced change after change this year, and with these changes come the need for additional support. During these changes there are four considerations: Recovery, Reopening, Reimagining and the Nerve Center. Our region has recovered and reopened, and we will continue to reimagine what success looks like, what the future looks like, and what role we want to play as our community moves forward.

risk for future life-altering events,” said Jarid Funderburg, VP of business and investor relations with the RAEDC. “Thomas Walstrum’s insight into the economic impact is critical for our region’s leaders.” Walstrum discussed what he expects to remain different as the country moves into a new normal and what will eventually return to what we experienced prior to COVID-19. This is from a trade and tariff standpoint. This event provided leaders of our regional government, business and educational institutions the chance to understand how their role impacts the recovery and future mitigation of risk for other metamorphic events. A video of the webinar can be watched at

Recover Address the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents to the institution’s workforce, customers, technology and business partners. Address near-term cash management challenges and broader resiliency issues during virus-related shutdowns and economic knock-on effects.

Reopen Create a detailed plan to return the business back to scale quickly, as the virus evolves and knock-on effects become clear.

Reimagine Imagine and re-imagine the “next normal.” What a discontinuous shift looks like and the implications for how the institution/business should reinvent itself. Be clear about how the regulatory and competitive environment in your industry may shift.

Nerve Center Managing across recovery, reopening and reimagining may require a new architecture based on a team-of-teams approach. How does your current staff work into this team-based style? You can find all these resources and more at

Rockfordward20/20 Progress The current Rockforward20/20 began Jan. 1, 2016 and will now continue through Dec. 31, 2021. The RAEDC remains committed to continuous improvement, always evaluating our priorities to ensure we’re asking the right questions and pushing for the right solutions. We are proactive in cultivating opportunities that increase the economic well-being of our region. Our region’s success is ours to influence. We embrace a bold vision for our community, to stake our claim on the national stage, to be a Top 25 community because we want the region to be competitive with the best in the United States – a shining example to others. The momentum continues as leaders commit themselves to the future, with the courage to find

the right path – the one that positively affects our community. Our work is conducted with a passion for excellence that is unified in our commitment to one another and to sustainability. The work of economic development critical to attracting and retaining jobs and ensuring our community remains a place people want to live and conduct business. From Jan. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2020, the region has reported the following figures towards the Rockforward20/20 goals.

We have exceeded the Capital Investment goal and are closing in on the other two goals. The unification initiative and decisions means our region has an additional year to reach these three key economic indicators goals. The daily work of economic development is made possible through the support of our investors and is a critical component of creating a business- and lifestyle-friendly region that is competitive with our Midwestern neighbors.

New & Retained Jobs

Capital Investment

New & Renovated Space

Current Total:



5,526,162 square feet

Percentage to goal:










November 2020

on digital


In celebrating its 110-year anniversary, Einar Forsman visits several of the Rockford Chamber’s founding members; thanking them for their service to the community.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., has served the Rockford community for 100 years. Currently its five Rockford branches serve nearly 100,000 customers and more than 5,500 business clients.

RAMP holds a grand re-opening and 40-year celebration on Oct. 22, including a ribbon cutting and daylong building tours, for its completed renovations to the building at 202 Market St., in downtown Rockford. The 100-yearold building originally housed The Cudahy Packing Co.

aMBaSSaDOR DOR SPOTLIGHT Matt Gugliciello I am the property manager for Forest Plaza,

in addition to several other shopping centers

owned by Washington Prime Group in the greater Chicagoland area. I also look for and offer unique opportunities for other small business owners to make use of the high traffic volume in my

centers. Food trucks, variety markets, non-profits J.L. Clark began in 1904 when John Lewis Clark turned his small tin smithing operation in his hardware store on Rockford’s south side into a full-time manufacturing operation producing decorated packaging for a variety of common household items.

like the Scouts, and others are finding my centers to be an excellent way to grow their businesses.

I have had the opportunity to meet so many new business owners, as

well as other chamber members since joining the Ambassadors. The goal

of my chamber membership is to build a network and learn more about an area of Illinois I am not familiar with. This group accomplishes both for me, and has led to several connections I am already using to grow my impact on the community.



November 2020


Rockford Chamber members appear bolded. Thank you for your support of your fellow Chamber members.

1. Kimberly Buchanan

2. Tom O’Connor

3. Kristen Hammel

4. Dr. Dale DiSalvo

5. Dr. Kyle Ver Steeg II

6. Todd Shankland

7. Bridget Jennison

8. Dr. Kinda Muslemani

9. Dr. Sravantika Koneru

10. Katie Calagui

11. Dan Engelkes

12. Ron Priddy

13. Eri Moe

14. Corey Stout

15. State Senator Dave Syverson

16. Heather Geary


Northern Illinois University Alumni named Kimberly Buchanan (1), The Buchanan Group, LLC, to its board. Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners selected Martesha Brown to fill the vacant seat left by the resignation of Commissioner Julianne (Julie) Elliott. Brown will need to run in the April 2021 election to keep her seat.

NEW HIRES, PROMOTIONS, RETIREMENTS Tom O’Connor (2) was named the new president and CEO at SwedishAmerican beginning Nov. 2. He’s an experienced senior healthcare leader from the Minneapolis area. Rosecrance named Kristen Hammel (3), LCPC, as director of mental health services at Rosecrance Central Illinois, and Julie Enockson as regional president at Rosecrance Jackson Centers. Quartz Health Solutions promoted Kelly Davit to director, business development. Ryan Pelz, senior account executive-large group sales, will expand his territory to include northern Illinois. Holly Harris, Medicare account executive, will add small group sales to her responsibilities. Mercyhealth welcomed Dale DiSalvo (4), M.D., to Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside and Javon Bea Hospital–Rockton and Kyle Ver Steeg II (5), M.D., plastic surgeon, to Mercyhealth Galleria Dermatology and Plastic Surgery–Loves Park. Fehr Graham hired Todd Shankland (6) as chief financial officer handling

17. Lisa KelceCampion

18. Chris Weeks

all 10 offices but housed in the Rockford office.

Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois.

Rockford University hired Bridget Jennison (7) as director of public relations and strategic communications.

IMEG Corp named Eric Moe (13) as client executive and manager of the Rockford office and Corey Stout (14) as national transportation market leader.

SwedishAmerican welcomed family physician, Dr. Kelsey Bierdeman, to Valley Clinic in Rockford, APRN Diana Cary to State Street OB/GYN in Rockford, and pediatric cardiologists Dr. Suhaib Kazmouz and Dr. Syed Asif Masood to the Heart Institute. OSF HealthCare welcomed Dr. Eileen O’Halloran to OSF Medical Group – General Surgery Rockford, and Dr. Kinda Muslemani (8) and Dr. Sravantika Koneru (9) to OSF Medical Group – Rock Cut Primary Care. Savant Wealth Management hired Katie Calagui (10) as chief people officer. Van Matre Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital promoted Tonya Markert to business development director. RBG Janitorial hired Cynthia Kohn as chief human resources and administrative officer. LuAnn Groh, executive assistant and office manager, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, retired at the end of October. Rockford Mass Transit District promoted Dan Engelkes (11) to director of operations and Ron Priddy (12) to operations manager. Illinois Board of Higher Education named Sherry Franklin and Andrea Jackson-Sagredo, Northern Illinois University, as new fellows of the

19. Kathy SchottAnderson

20. Cheri Zweep

EMPLOYEE/COMMUNITY RECOGNITIONS, AWARDS State Senator Dave Syverson (15) was named a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Illinois Farm Bureau. He received an 100 percent rating in legislative advocacy. Golden Apple Foundation named Heather Geary (16), fourth grade, Whitehead Elementary School, Rockford, as the 2020 Golden Apple Teacher. Rockford Art Museum named its winners of the 76th Rockford Midwestern Biennial: Judith Meyer, Rockford, Best of Show; Krista Anderson-Larson, St. Paul, Minn., and Kathy Weaver, Chicago, Juror’s Choices, and Victoria Fuller, Chicago, Dean Alan Olson Purchase Award. Lisa Kelce-Campion (17), vice president, Kelce & Company, received a disinfectant certification from the Global Bio-Risk Advisory Council for mold, bacteria and viruses such as COVID. The company celebrated employee anniversaries: Chris Weeks (18), operations manager, eight years; Kathy Schott-Anderson (19), office manager, six years, and Cheri Zweep (20), account manager, five years. State Senator Steve Stadelman (21) was named an environmental

21. State Senator Steve Stadelman

22. Dr. Brant Hulsebus

champion, with a 91.2 environmental score in the Illinois Environmental Council’s first-ever Lifetime Environmental Scorecard for votes cast on environmental legislation in the General Assembly..

OF GENERAL INTEREST Brant Hulsebus (22), D.C., Hulsebus Rockford Chiropractic, attended the International Chiropractic Association annual conference. He’s the Illinois Representative, Medicare Committee Chairman and Legislative Committee Chairman. Kimberly Buchanan, president, The Buchanan Group, LLC, was featured in Forbes. She launched the “Unlock Your Potential Podcast” for the ambitious, career-focused woman who wants to do more. She was a workshop speaker for the virtual, NavigateHER Women’s Leadership Conference on the “Pitfalls to Avoid as Women Leaders.” Michele St. Clair (23), V2 Marketing Communications, completed management and production of the week-long virtual InkWeek 2020 Technical Conference, on behalf of the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers, along with Ink World and Printed Electronics Now publications. Faith Center announced the passing away of Apostle Donald M. Lyon (24) on Oct. 2. Apostle Lyon founded the interdenominational church, Faith Center International Ministries, in 1978. Other notable accomplishments include founding two Christian radio stations, 100.9 FM WQFL in 1974 and 88.3 FM WFEN in 1991. Announcement to come of the new administration.

23. Michele St. Clair

24. Apostle Donald M. Lyon



November 2020



Rockford Chamber members appear bolded. Thank you for your support of your fellow Chamber members.

Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront hosted Home with the FAM in October, a live virtual familiarization tour for national event operators, trade publication partners and media. It showcased the region as a destination for leisure and group travel; focusing on conventions, meetings, reunions and sports markets for events in 2021 and beyond. Two Rockford certified public accounting firms, Boeke & Associates, Ltd and Benning Group, LLC, merged on Sept. 15. It will operate as Benning Group, LLC, with offices in Rockford, Freeport and Monroe, Wis. Benning Group, LLC partners Curt Kleckler and Jake Thompson welcomed Roger Boeke as a partner, along with longtime Boeke team members Luke Boeke, Sue Boeke and Kris Jones. WATT Global Media launched, formerly, with complete news coverage on the impact of COVID-19, sustainability and trade deals on poultry processing. It features a Poultry Future channel and WATT Poultry Chat.

Blackhawk Bank presented $35,000 from its Targeted Impact Fund to local charities in the southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois area addressing the ongoing needs of populations hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis: Boone Co Council on Aging, Belvidere; The Ivy Academy, Elgin; Miss Carly’s, Rockford; ACTS Housing, Beloit; YWCA Rock County, Janesville; KFACT Inc., Rockford, and the Youth and Family Center of McHenry County, McHenry. Midway Village Museum received grants to assist in its financial challenges due to COVID-19 from Bergstrom Inc., the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, and the Elaine Green Fund and the Janet Kjellstrom Foundation at Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. The OSF HealthCare website was updated with a current listing of insurance plans and free counseling services through the Senior Health Insurance Program for Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers. OSF partnered with Health Alliance to offer OSF MedAdvantage, a new Medicare Advantage health plan that debuted in 2020. Visit www.OSFMedAdvantage. org for information on online seminars throughout the enrollment period. RBG Janitorial is providing electrostatic spraying services to disinfect against COVID-19 with a touch-free, electrostatically charged chemical mist that clings to and disinfects any kind of surface. The business is nationally certified by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council and follows CDC, EPA and OSHA guidelines for cleaning workspaces during the pandemic. Rockford Art Deli, Rockford Area

Rockford Art Museum’s 2020 Rockford Midwestern Biennial exhibition is open Thursdays to Sundays through Jan. 31. Admission is free for the remainder of 2020. The 76th juried exhibition features 76 pieces chosen from 70 artists in six states. Seven hundred pieces of new work were submitted. Convention & Visitors Bureau and Rockford Area Arts Council released its third round of $500 grants from the Our Journey Micro-Grant program to area art-focused organizations: Sounds of Good News (SOGN) Productions for The “YES” Club “Healing America” projects; Now What Pop-Ups; The Arc of Winnebago, Boone and Ogle Counties for Community through Color, and The Music Academy for pop-up performances along the bike path on Sept. 12. WATT Global Media’s 9th International Poultry Forum China in August drew more than 600 experts, entrepreneurs and representatives from the poultry meat and egg industry. The event included in-depth analysis and discussion on the difficulties and opportunities of the poultry industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. OSF HealthCare was recognized by the American College of Cardiology in the “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report as one of the top health systems in the United States for top quality care to heart patients in 2020 -- one of only 72 health care systems to be included. The City of Rockford Fire Department received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Award for quality improvement measures as the first medical point of contact for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. WinMan LLC launched WinMan Cloud, a comprehensive cloud-based ERP solution designed for manufacturers, with a complete toolkit to support business processes and assist with remote working. Chartwell Agency completed work on enrollment marketing campaign for Faith Christian School, an independent, Christ-centered PreK to 12th grade school in Walworth County, Wis. It was named agency of record for Edgebrook Shopping Center and Rock Valley Credit Union. Kelce & Company has developed a comprehensive plan including following

proper Bio Risk Contamination Cleanup Guidelines for businesses compromised by COVID-19. Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital– Rockton saw its first patients at its new Endoscopy Center, a more than $50 million dollar investment, with four GI/ endoscopy procedural suites, one bronchoscopy lab and one Endoscopic Retrograde cholangiopancreatography room for upper GI/endoscopy and X-rays. OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center teamed with the American Cancer Society to host the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer experience with a pinwheel garden at Rock Valley College in October. Funds raised support breast cancer research, patient care programs, public awareness and community outreach. Illinois Bank & Trust will donate $20,000 to Lewis Lemon Elementary School to purchase much-needed tools and materials as a partner with the national non-profit organization, Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois’ LifeLaunch program was one of only 10 in the country to receive funding for a pilot program. With a virtual reality (VR) Oculus Quest headset and $5,000 stipend, it will test a career readiness tool to help those involved with the justice system. The Indoor Golf Practice Center at Rockford Park District’s Mercyhealth Sportscore Two is open through April 2, 2021. Golfers can work on their short game during the winter months. Those under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Visit www. Kelce & Company celebrates 40 years in business. Per Mar Security Services acquired Martin Security Systems, Inc., based in Valparaiso, Ind. Founder Robert Martin’s sons, Rich and Rob Martin, joined the Per Mar team along with Jan Graves. Forest City Gear now can perform hard fine finishing of larger diameter cylindrical gears faster and more efficiently in higher volumes with the

addition of a new Reishauer RZ 410 Threaded Wheel Grinding Machine. The Greater Rockford Airport Authority Board renewed its contract with Zethmayr LLC to continue administering Foreign Trade Zone #176 (FTZ #176), which allows manufacturers delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign merchandise. Savant Wealth Management (formerly Savant Capital Management) was named to Barron’s Top 100 Registered Investment Advisory firms ranking for 2020 and to RIA Channel’s Top 100 Wealth Managers list for 2020. The Hunger Luncheon Committee launched Soup’s On, a Go Fund Me campaign for local pantries, replacing the annual Mayor’s Hunger Luncheon this year. It resulted in more than $87,000 donated by the community. Funds will be divided equally among the members of the Greater Rockford Pantry Coalition: Christ the Carpenter Pantry, Christian Union Pantry, Cornucopia Food Pantry, Emmanuel Lutheran Food Pantry, God’s Glory Food Pantry, Unity in the Community, Rock River Valley Food Pantry, Salvation Army Food Pantry, St. Elizabeth Community Center and Soul’s Harbor Food Pantry. Rockford Systems’ Ejection Curtain Guarding Kits for Presses, most commonly used on H-presses or compacting presses that are hydraulic powered, are helping address the estimated 250,000 industrial workers struck by ejected debris such as metal chips, nails, broken cutters, blades, tools and dislodged grinding wheels. Steel mesh ejection curtains such as these were originally intended to protect people in the vicinity of a bomb blast. KMK Media Group completed the design and development of branding for the Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education; encompassing 13 school districts in Boone and Winnebago counties. Midway Village Museum will open its Victorian Village and main museum Continued on page 27


November 2020




(continued from page 26)

center free to the public, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 22, as overwhelming attendance at the All Hallows’ Eve Drive Thru special event resulted in many visitors arriving, yet unable to be part of the day. Reservations are required for two-hour tours at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. Only 20 tickets available for each time. Visit freetourweekendsatMidway. Chartwell Agency was hired by TexAmericas Center, which owns and operates one of the largest mixed-use industrial parks in the United States. Boylan Catholic High School hosts Future Titan Tours for prospective freshman for the next school year, Tuesdays or Wednesdays through Nov. 18, 4 to 6 p.m. Attendees will receive a voucher for 50% off the registration fee. Pre-register at least 24 hours in advance at 815-877-0531. The placement test will take place on Dec. 5 and is required for all incoming freshmen to determine appropriate courses. Any student scoring in the 95th percentile or above will receive a $4,000 tuition grant. Visit enrollment/placement-testing. Mercyhealth Prehospital and Emergency Services Center–Rockford earned accreditation by the

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for Medical Services Professions. Its paramedic program met or exceeded quality benchmarks in training, coursework and services based on a two-day onsite survey. Rock Valley Credit Union presented $7,500 in donations in October to local nonprofits Carpenter’s Place and Miss Carly’s through its Targeted Impact Fund for organizations hardest-hit by COVID-19 and promoting equity and opportunity for communities of color. Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital– Rockton Cardiac Rehabilitation Center received the cardiac rehabilitation certification by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, valid for three consecutive years. It’s based on improving the quality of life of patients using standards of care for six areas of risk: blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, hemoglobin A1C, functional capacity, smoking cessation and depression. Judson University is providing a Back To School Book Voucher, valued at $100, to a select number of adult students who start accelerated degree programs in November. The associate’s degree program starts Nov. 30 and bachelor’s and master’s degree

Rockford Chamber opposes proposed Graduated Income Tax Constitutional Amendment

Rockford Chamber supports switch to County Executive Form of Government

Benson Stone Company celebrated its 90th anniversary with a storewide anniversary sale. programs start Nov. 9. Primarily six-week courses with students enrolled in one course at a time. Degrees in approximately two years or less fully online. Request information at Rockford Park District is selling Stay ’n Play Activity Boxes for $25 with new themes each month for 5- to 12-yearolds. Includes three interactive activities, a bonus activity, step-by-step instructions and supplies. Visit or the Nicholas Conservatory gift store. J.L. Clark’s Heritage Team recently completed an update of the company’s display at Midway Village Museum’s Industrial Gallery. It gives a timeline of the company’s 115-year history and numerous examples of the packaging produced. The museum’s Victorian Village also houses a replica hardware store from J.L. Clark’s early years.

Illinois’ current flat rate income tax is

inherently more fair than a graduated income tax since everyone pays the same rate and tax increases uniformly affect everyone. A

flat rate tax does not promote divisive class warfare rhetoric or purposefully attempt to

Lifescape cancelled the 2020 Senior Expo due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead is offering a 2020 Senior Expo Resource Guide at Serola Biomechanics, Inc., received the President’s “E” Award for Exports, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for expansion of U.S. exports. The manufacturer of orthopedic medical devices exports to 30 foreign markets and has experienced strong growth in export sales over the previous four years. Rockford Park District announced that the 2020 AAU-Central District Cross Country Qualifier on Oct. 24 was held for the first time at Clarence Hicks Memorial Sports Park. All eligible participants will advance to the National Cross Country Championship in December.

fairness standard. A flat rate tax requires all taxpayers to vigilantly stand guard against excessive government spending. We encourage a “No” vote on the

re-distribute income according to a subjective

Constitutional Amendment.

On the November 3rd voting ballot, voters have a question before them on switching the form of government in Winnebago County from the Township Form to the Executive Form of government. Given all that has transpired in the past few years in Winnebago County government, it is clear that stability and leadership is necessary and will not be achieved under the current form of governance. That a County Board can ignore the wishes of its local voters and add or strip powers of the County Chairman based on changes in relationships, attitudes, etc., it is clear that this process is not working and the County residents need to be served better. An Executive Form of government puts an elected official in control of the County, but,

the powers of that individual could not be changed mid-term. When you vote for your county leader, you elect that person to make the decisions on your behalf. This adds a greater level of fairness and accountability for Winnebago County Voters. The ballot question reads as follows: Shall the County of Winnebago adopt the county executive form of government and elect not to become a home rule unit? Yes ❑ No ❑ Why is home rule referenced in the question? It is done so to ensure home rule powers do NOT apply to this change in government. Please vote YES on this referendum!



November 2020


Building your success story

Expand your knowledge, learn from others, get new clients The pandemic hasn’t stopped the networking. The Rockford Chamber of Commerce now hosts four Advantage Clubs or BNGroups, made up of business owners, decision makers and sales associates who network and refer business to one another. Only one member from each industry is accepted into each group. Visitors are welcome to attend a meeting before making a decision to join. For information on openings, contact Kristin Muehlfelder, 815-3164315 or

IGNITE Business Networking Group Designed for young professionals (under 45) Meets virtually until further notice second and fourth Tuesdays, noon Contact breitsch@


Advocacy to pass the Student Tax Option legislation

401 S. Main St., Ste. 1445, 61101 John Frana 202-768-9403 JERSEY MIKE’S SUBS

Sub sandwiches sliced and grilled to order

6284 E. State St. 61108 Mark Michalak 815-226-0118 www.jerseymikes. com/27026/rockford-il OUR WORLD ENERGY Illinois Shines Solar Program

913 N. Main St., 61103 Paul Spoonmore 623-262-0803 www.bettercallpaulsolar. com SUSTAIN ROCKFORD, INC. General contractor

502 Seventh St., Ste. 203, 61104 Brad Roos 815-703-9330

Advantage Club Originals Meets virtually until further notice second and fourth Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m. Contact Josh Berven, 815-3983434 or

Advantage Power Network Club Meets virtually until further notice second and fourth Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m. Contact Michelle Bowman, 815636-6665 or michelle.bowman@

NEW!! ALLSTARS Business Networking Group Meets virtually until further notice, first and third Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Contact Susan Contrady, 815-505-8468 or susancontrady@

MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS Thank you to members who renewed with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in September 2020 Alpine Body Shop, Inc. American Advertising Federation of Northern Illinois Area Erectors, Inc. Baymont by Wyndham Rockford Berg Industries, Inc. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crosby Starck Real Estate Bobcat of Rockford Briargate Management, LLC Burpee Museum of Natural History Campbell Science Corporation Carpenter’s Local 792 Chartwell Agency City of Rockford CliftonLarsonAllen LLP Cremation Society of Illinois Custom Training Resources Digital Hive Mind Ebiss USA

Forest City Diagnostic Imaging Giuseppe Verdi Society/Verdi Club Global Spiritual Organization Header Die & Tool, Inc. Hilton Garden Inn Holiday Inn Express Home2 Suites by Hilton InterActive Safety Solutions Inc. Keller Williams Realty Signature Key Realty, Inc. McMAHON Mid-West Family Broadcasting Nelson Fire Protection NLT Title, a division of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. Olson Enterprises LLC Peterson Meadows Pines Edge Apartments LLC Rasmussen College Riverview Inn & Suites at


Rockford Cosmopolitan Club Rockford Fastener Inc.

Rockford Symphony Orchestra Rockford Systems, LLC Rockford Toolcraft, Inc.

Satori Pathway Network

Satori Pathway Network - Anam Memory Care

ServiceMaster Restoration by DSI Sikich LLP

Sinnissippi Apartments Inc. Studio GWA

Sutkay Insurance Group (SIG) Taylor Company

Title Underwriters Agency

Upper Cervical Care Center

Winnebago County Bar Association

NOVEMBER MEMBER ANNIVERSARIES Thank you to our members celebrating their anniversaries with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce

45-YEAR MEMBERS CherryVale Mall Holiday Inn of Rockford


Fehr Graham Rock River Water Reclamation District Rockford Housing Authority

30-YEAR MEMBER Camelot World Travel

25-YEAR MEMBERS Illinois Bank & Trust Mid-City Office Products Ray King REALTOR

15-YEAR MEMBER Lindstrom, Sorenson & Associates, LLP


Children’s Home & Aid GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Rockford Promise

15-YEAR MEMBER Louis Bageanis


November 2020



Discovery Center Museum presents a virtual class for children, Take it Apart, 1:30 to 3 p.m., at 711 N. Main St., Rockford. Advance registration at www. or 815-963-6769.

Deadline is Nov. 9 for individual artists, arts organizations and non-profit Rockford Park District’s Nicholas organizations to apply for Access Conservatory, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, presents Día de los Muertos Grants for 2021. Grants are supported by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, City (Day of the Dead), 3:30 to 5 p.m. of Rockford and Rockford Area Arts Advance registration required by noon Council. Maximum is $2,500. Visit on Nov. 6 at or call nicholas-at-night. 815-963-6765. Rockford Park District’s Nicholas THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12 Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, hosts Predatory Plants: University of Illinois – Extension The Carnivorous Plant Display presents Eldercare Services and through Nov. 7. Tickets at www. Professionals: How to Maneuver Through the Maze, part of a six-part

Rockford University presents a free, virtual session, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force, part of its Current Issues in American Foreign Policy series. Features Eliot Cohen, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies for Johns Hopkins University. Available by 9 a.m., at

Judson University’s start date in its Accelerated Online Degree Programs for bachelor’s and master’s degrees is Nov. 9. Associate’s degrees start Nov. 30. Courses are six weeks, with one course at a time, and programs can be completed in two years or less, fully online. Visit

University of Illinois – Extension presents Speak Clearly, Listen Carefully, part of a six-part Discover Caregiving Relationships webinar series, 6:30 p.m. Registration required at



Discover Caregiving Relationships webinar series, 6:30 p.m. Registration required at

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 Rockford University presents a free, virtual session, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order, part of its Current Issues in American Foreign Policy series. Features Ambassador


Rockford Chamber members appear bolded. Thank you for your support of your fellow Chamber members.

Richard Haass. Available by 9 a.m., at

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30 University of Illinois Extension hosts a web-based Certified Food Protection Manager course, 9 a.m. to noon, on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 3, with an exam on Dec. 4 in-person at Highland Community College Student Conference Center, Freeport. Preregistration required at 815-235-4125 or

DECEMBER 2020 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18 Jim Brickman performs a live virtual event, Comfort & Joy at Home 2020 to benefit the Coronado Performing Arts Center. Tickets at www.

STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION 1. Publication Title: The VOICE of the Rockford Business Community 2. Publication Number: 784-120 3. Filing Date: 09/30/2020 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12 6. Annual Subscription Price: $25 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 308 W. State St., Ste. 190, Rockford, IL 61101-1104 Winnebago County. 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: Same as above. 9. Publisher: Rockford Chamber of Commerce, 308W. State St., Ste. 190, Rockford, IL 61101-1104. Editor: N/A Managing Editor: Doug Hessong, same as above. 10. Owner: Rockford Chamber of Commerce Complete Mailing Address: 308W. State St., Ste. 190, Rockford, IL 61101-1104. 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities. Full Name: N/A Complete Mailing Address: N/A 12. Tax Status (For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at special rates.) The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes: Has Not Changed During Preceding 12 Months. 13. Publication Title: The VOICE of the Rockford Business Community 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data: September 2020 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Chamber members and distribution sites in the community. a. Total Number Copies (Net Press Run): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 5,750 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 6,000 b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail): (1) Outside-County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 327 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 331 (2) In-County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 3,126 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 3,072 (3) Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid or Requested Distribution Outside USPS®: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: N/A No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: N/A (4) Requested Copies Distributed by Other Mail Classes Through the USPS (e.g. First-Class Mail®): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: N/A No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: N/A c. Total Paid and/or Requested Distribution [Sum of 15b (1), (2), (3), and (4)]: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 3,453 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 3,403 d. Nonrequested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail) (1) Outside County Nonrequested Copies Included on PS Form 3541: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: N/A No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: N/A (2) In-County Nonrequested Copies Included on PS Form 3541:

Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: N/A No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: N/A (3) Nonrequested Copies Distributed Through the USPS by Other Classes of Mail (e.g. First-Class Mail, nonrequestor copies mailed in excess of 10% limit mailed at Standard Mail® or Package Services rates): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: N/A No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: N/A 4) Nonrequested Copies Distributed Outside the Mail (Include pickup stands, trade shows, showrooms, and other sources): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 1,808 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 2,385 e. Total Nonrequested Distribution [Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3), and (4)]: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 1,808 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 2,385 f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 5,261 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 5,788 g. Copies not Distributed: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 489 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 212 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 5,750 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 6,000 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c divided by 15f times 100): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 65.63% No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 58.8% 16. Electronic Copy Circulation a. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: N/A No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: N/A b. Total Requested and Paid Print Copies (Line 15c) + Requested/ Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 3,453 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 3,403 c. Total Requested Copy Distribution (Line 15f) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 5,261 No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 5,788 d. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c times 100): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 65.63% No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 58.8% I certify that 50% of all my distributed copies (electronic and print) are legitimate requests or paid copies. 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership for a Requestor Publication is required and will be printed in the November 2020 issue of this publication. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties): Signed: Doug Hessong, Dir. of Publications and Technology Date: Sept. 30, 2020

2020’s most, least politically engaged states With Election Day coming up and only 61.4% of the voting age population having voted in the 2016 presidential election and 53.4% in the 2018 midterm, WalletHub released its report comparing states across 11 key indicators. Illinois ranked as the 20th most politically engaged state.

in the 2016 Presidential election

Most Politically Engaged States

■ Change in percentage of

■ Percentage of electorate who actually voted in the 2018 midterm elections ■ Percentage of electorate who actually voted in the 2016 Presidential election electorate who actually voted in the

Key Stats

2016 elections compared with the 6. Utah 2012 elections 7. Oregon ■ Total political contributions 8. Montana 9. Virginia per adult population 10. Massachusetts ■ Civic education engagement Maine has the highest share of ■ State preparedness for voting citizens who actually voted in the in a pandemic 2016 presidential election, 72.68 percent; 1.5 times higher than Hawaii ■ Voter accessibility policies with the lowest percentage. It also ■ Preregistration for young voters had the highest share of citizens who policies actually voted in the 2018 midterm elections, 65.60 percent; 1.5 times ■ Volunteer political campaign higher than Arkansas with the lowest opportunities per capita percentage. ■ Percentage of residents who There is a 0.6 correlation between the overall ranking of the states for participate in local groups or political engagement and the level organizations of education in each state (at least a Data was collected from the U.S. Census bachelor’s degree). Bureau, Center for Responsive Politics, Blue states are more politically Ballotpedia, Corporation for National and engaged, with an average ranking of Community Service, National Conference of 18.20, compared with 30.37 for Red State Legislatures, Center for American states (1 = Best).

1. Maine 2. Washington 3. Colorado 4. Maryland 5. Wyoming

Based on What? ■ Percentage of registered voters

Progress, Indeed and the Brookings Institution.



November 2020

Small Business Saturday® is Nov. 28 Shopping local during Thanksgiving weekend In 2010, American Express started Small Business Saturday® as a way to encourage people to “shop small” and bring more dollars to small entrepreneurs. It’s considered a counterpart to Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day. The first event took place in Roslindale Village, Mass. The U.S. Small Business Administration joined as a cosponsor five years later and has become an important part of how many small businesses launch their busiest shopping season.

A Timeline 2010. Digging out from the recession American Express launches Small Business Saturday® following the 2008 market crash. 2011. Help from the feds The U.S. Senate unanimously passes a resolution in support of the day. Officials in all 50 states participate. 2013. Neighbors helping neighbors More than 1,400 individuals and organizations sign up as “Neighborhood Champions” to rally their communities with events and activities on Small Business Saturday. The number grows to 7,500 by 2018. 2018. Record spending U.S. consumers report spending around $17 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday®, according to the 2018 SBS Consumer Insights Survey. The nine-day SBS total (since 2010) reaches an estimated $103 billion.

Some Stats ■ 99.7% of all U.S. businesses are small businesses. ■ 64% of new jobs created in the United States between 1993 and 2011 were from small businesses. ■ Small businesses donate 250% more to non-profits and community causes. ■ Small businesses have a personal connection to their community, as they usually are supported by the locals surrounding them. Donating to charity allows them to give back to the community that gives to them, earn some philanthropy points and spread awareness of their business’ existence and values.


How to Celebrate Small Business Saturday® Make a point of organizing a shopping day where you visit small, local enterprises, along with friends and family. While you may or may not end up paying more, it’s important to remember that spending your money at a small business generally puts more money into the local economy. Small business owners might find that Small Business Saturday® is a great time to run marketing promotions and further capitalize on the increased foot traffic of the holiday shopping season and on their online traffic.

If you own a small business, run some

promotion for the day, and otherwise, put up a post on your Facebook page. If your small

business does not have a Facebook page or

online presence, you should seriously consider

taking Small Business Saturday® to go ahead and

do that.





November 2020

ADVERTISERS INDEX Blackhawk Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Northern Public Radio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

BMO Harris Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Northwestern Mutual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Brian Thomas Photography. . . . . . . . . . . .16

OSF HealthCare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Comcast Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32

Quartz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

CoyleKiley Insurance Agency . . . . . . . . . .14 Edward Jones – Erna Colborn. . . . . . . . . . .7 Illinois Bank & Trust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Rockford Chamber of Commerce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13, 19, 21, 23, 31 Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren P.C. . . . . . .11 Sosnowski Szeto, LLP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Leading Lawyers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Stillman Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Mercyhealth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Thayer Lighting, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Morgan Stanley – The Custer/Meisch Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

Van Matre Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6



Chamber Staff / Call 815-987-8100 ..........................................Direct Line Jeff Bailey, Membership Development Executive ..................................815-316-4336 Carmen Brenz, Program & Event Coordinator ...................................815-316-4302 Einar K. Forsman, President & CEO .......................................... 815-987-8100 Heidi M. Garner, Chief Operating Officer .................................... 815-316-4312 Olivia Guzman, Administrative Assistant/Customer Service Rep..........815-987-8100 Doug Hessong, Director of Publications & Technology ................... 815-316-4338 Lynette Jacques, Vice President, Member Investment .................... 815-316-4317 Kristin Muehlfelder, Member Relations...................................................815-316-4315 Caitlin Pusateri, Vice President, Leadership Development ....................815-316-4337 Doug Rand, Accounting Manager/Controller ............................... 815-316-4316 Joan Sundvall, Membership Contact Coordinator ......................... 815-316-4320 Mike Mastroianni, Executive Director, Small Business Development Center ...................................................815-987-8100



Chair of the Board Michele Petrie Wintrust Commercial Banking & Mortgage Chair Elect Dan Ross Community Foundation of Northern Illinois

Brent Bernardi Alpha Controls & Services LLC Kimberly Blascoe Wipfli LLP LaVonne Brown Savant Wealth Management Paula Carynski OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center

Vice Chair Jean Crosby Samuel J. Castree Berkshire Hathaway Staff Management, HomeServices Crosby Inc. Starck Real Estate Doug Curry Treasurer Stenstrom Amy Ott Companies Boylan Catholic Don Daniels High School SwedishAmerican, A Immediate Division of UW Health Past Chair Richard Zumwalt Z Resource

Rebecca Epperson Chartwell Agency

Eric Fulcomer, Ph.D. Rockford University Ira Grimmett Collins Aerospace

Tim Honquest Honquest Family Funeral Home with Crematory

Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green Univ. of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford

Jeff Hultman Illinois Bank & Trust

Terry Voskuil Woodward

Michael F. Iasparro Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Robert Young Midwest Packaging and Container

Carly LaMonica LaMonica Beverages, Inc.


Kris L. Kieper Machajewski YWCA Northwestern Illinois Mike Paterson Mid-West Family Broadcasting Denise Sasse RSM US LLP

Einar K. Forsman President & CEO, Rockford Chamber of Commerce John Groh Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

John Schuster Rosecrance Health Network Teresa Sharp American Precision Supply, Inc.

DECEMBER VOICE SPECIAL SECTIONS Philanthropy & Fundraising and Honoring Women In Business & Manufacturing For information on advertising, call 815


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