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Grundy Business Q Vol. 5, No. 1

Morris Daily Herald Spring 2014

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GEDC and Grundy Chamber host annual awards dinner Also Inside: • Chamber recognizes area businesses and organizations • Moving into 2014 with momentum • A better work environment serves employees, company • Improving office productivity

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PRESORTED STANDARD U.S. POSTAGE PAID MORRIS, IL PERMIT NO. 64


2014

Morris Daily Herald / www.morrisdailyherald.com • Friday, March 28, 2014

| Grundy Business Quarterly

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Moving Into with Momentum

What a difference a few years make. Thankfully, Grundy County is attracting significant new investment and new jobs. During 2013 and into 2014, nearly $150 million in new investment is planned for our communities and those projects represent the creation, and in some cases retention, of nearly 740 jobs.

in unincorporated Grundy County. The company hiring nearly 180 employees for the 77,000 square current employs approximately 60 people and foot building. The strategic Minooka location the expansion will add 11 new positions. was important in their decision to locate in Grundy County. Metalstamp was considering a move outside the area until they found a site in Minooka where Inland Logistics Port of Coal City announced they are now constructing a multi-million dollar its plans to construct a 225 acre rail served facility. Metalstamp is a progressive electronic industrial park. The Village of Coal City and the Here’s a line-up of exciting new projects ahead. metal stamping manufacturer primarily serving Union Pacific Railroad entered into an agreethe auto industry. The new facility will retain 44 ment to construct the lead track into the park, an Trader Joe’s is open for business. Grundy employees and an additional 8 quality jobs will important first step. Further site development is anticipated for 2014. County was successful in attracting Trader Joe’s be provided as the business grows. logistic facility after a multi-state search in 2012. Construction began in late 2012 and opened in Utility Concrete Products, LLC is a lead- Grundy Workforce Initiative. This year, Fall 2013. Slated to eventually employ upwards ing Midwest precast concrete company. UCP the Grundy Summer Internship program will set of 500 people, the $80 million project is a great produces precast concrete products for the a new benchmark. There are 27 internships addition to ProLogis International Centre South. communication, electrical, and transportation available for local high school juniors and seniors industries among others. The company located at 12 different businesses throughout Grundy Airgas, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of in Channahon in 2003 and now ten years later County. There was also a record number of industrial, specialty and medical supplies has is planning a multi-million dollar expansion to applicants. Nearly 179 students have applied chosen a site in Minooka as its new Midwest serve new customers and add new products to its for the positions. This is a great opportunity location. The state of the art air separation unit successful line. UCP is one of the areas larger for students to discover professional careers will be in production in the Spring, 2015. Airgas employers with approximately 120 people on available in their communities while businesses will provide approximately 50 quality jobs. staff and nearly 40 new jobs are anticipated with receive quality students that the future workforce. Thanks to the support of Senator Rezin, and the expansion. business and education leaders, this program Locally headquartered company, Primus Electronics, began construction on an NFI Industries is currently under construc- will continue to be a pipeline for employment expansion to its facilities constructed in 2008. tion in ProLogis International Centre South. It is in Grundy County. Primus is a leading wireless telecommunications anticipated they will be opening for business distribution company located on Sandridge Road this year. The new logistics facility anticipates Article submitted by Grundy County Economic Development


Many people spend more time in the office than they do at their own homes. As a result, the environment at the workplace is especially important, and businesses big and small should attempt to make that environment as enjoyable and supportive as possible. A positive workplace environment not only benefits the company’s employees, but it also benefits the company. Numerous studies have shown a link between workplace environment and error rate, willingness to collaborate with other employees and even absenteeism. For example, a study by the United Kingdom’s Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment and the British Council for Offices found that something as simple as good lighting and adequate daylight throughout the office can reduce absenteeism by as much as 15 percent. In addition to minor changes around the office, there are several other things companies can do to improve the workplace environment.

seems to be reigning over many businesses, open and honest communication with employees is especially important. As a result, communicate more frequently and effectively with staff. Let staff know the company is always open to suggestions, and respond to all suggestions to let employees know their opinions matter. Emphasize respect for others throughout the company. No one wants to come to work and feel disrespected. Foster a culture of mutual respect wherein everyone knows bad behavior between employees simply won’t be tolerated. Workplace bullying is not that uncommon, and employees who feel bullied or disrespected at the office are bound to be unhappy and less productive. Make sure everyone from the company CEO to the summer interns are aware that they must respect others and that they deserve respect regardless of their position within the company.

for ideas on improvement. Employees are on the ground floor every day, and they are an invaluable resource as to what’s working and what’s not working with regards to the environment at the office. Use them to help institute positive changes, and the result will likely be an improved environment as well as employees who feel more valued. Show appreciation. Companies hoping to foster a more positive work environment should always show appreciation to their employees when a job is well done. Appreciation can come in many forms, but companies should never avoid expressing gratitude or appreciation simply because they expect their employees to perform their jobs well. While it’s important to set high expectations for employees, always give recognition and appreciation when employees meet those expectations.

Involve employees when instituting Increase and improve communication. Par- changes. When attempting to improve a ticularly in the current economy, where uncertainty workplace environment, go straight to the source

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A better work environment serves employees, company

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Morris Daily Herald / www.morrisdailyherald.com • Friday, March 28, 2014

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GEDC and Grundy Chamber host annual awards dinner The annual Grundy County Economic Development Awards hosted jointly by the Grundy Economic Development Council (GEDC) and the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry was held Thursday, February 27, 2014 at the Morris Country Club with nearly 240 guests in attendance. The dinner started with a six-minute video depicting how a community rebuilds after disaster, specifically the April 2013 flooding in Grundy County and the tornado that struck Coal City and Diamond last fall. “I think the importance of the event is there are a lot of companies and individuals who are doing great things in our community,” Nancy Ammer, chief executive officer of GEDC, said. “It’s important that people get acknowledged for what they are doing.” The Welcome to Grundy County award began as a way to recognize new businesses that invent in the community. This year’s recipient is WW Grainger located in Minooka. “One important component of the award is that a company not just locate a new facility but truly becomes part of our community,” Ammer said. “Before the doors even opened, Grainger started giving back to the Grundy County community.” Grainger has made significant donations to Channooka Wish, We Care of Grundy County, Special Connections, Joliet Junior College, and Minooka Summerfest. When the tornado hit Coal City and Diamond,

the GEDC reached out to Grainger, which said it would have a truck there by noon. Rob Favaro, director of DC relations at WW Grainger, said he moved to Minooka from Minnesota and quickly found himself welcomed into the community. “One thing is when I walked into a grocery store and they saw I worked for Grainger, they started asking about Grainger,” Favaro said during his acceptance speech. “It made me feel great that I came to a community where we are welcome.” He said it’s the philosophy of WW Grainger associates that when they come to a community, they don’t just build a location, they become involved. The Partnership Award was presented to Coal City and the Union Pacific Railroad. “Successful projects are built on collaboration and cooperation,” Ammer said. “Emerging from one of the toughest recessions in recent history, the Village of Coal City has made a big commitment to attract new industrial taxpayers and quality jobs, partnering with the Union Pacific Railroad to help kick start the Inland Logistics Port of Coal City.” The Village of Coal City is constructing a lead track in the industrial park. In exchange, the Union Pacific Railroad has entered into a revenue sharing program with the village. “Whether you are a municipality, a county, or a state, it takes persistence and patience to make things happen,” Coal City Mayor Neal

“Welcome to Grundy County Award” WW Grainger “Partnership Award” Coal City & The Union Pacific Railroad “Business of the Year Award” LyondellBasell

Nelson said. The logistics facility will be on 285 acres on the southwest edge of Coal City. It will have 2.8 million square feet under one roof. The logistics facility will be shovel-ready with the addition of the lead track that this partnership is building. LyondellBasell was named Business of the Year by the GEDC. “Thanks to market conditions and the price of natural gas, a primary feedstock for the Lyondell facility, the Morris plant is growing, investing, and hiring again,” Ammer said. “Most recently, they have spent significant capital upgrading the facility and also added a new rail facility.” LyondellBasell has been in Grundy County since 1969. Although the company has had several name changes, it still is providing jobs to people from the area with an annual payroll and benefits in excess of $50 million. “We’re committed to the local community,” Brian Angwin, plant manager, said. “We’ve had many names, and even though the names change the commitment stays the same.” Lyondell employees and their families donate to We Care of Grundy County, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross and, most recently, the Mazon City Park. Ammer also thanked Lyondell for sponsoring four interns this summer for the Grundy County Internship Program.


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Opposite page- (left to right) Scott Seibert, GEDC Board Chairman, Aux Sable; Rob Favaro, WW Grainger; Matt Fritz, Village of Coal City; Coal City Mayoy Neal Nelson; Nancy Ammer, GEDC CEO; Wayne Borg, The Union Pacific Railroad; Brian Angwin, LyondellBasell. Top - (top row, left to right) John Adler, Chamber Board president; Lois Darlington, Clayton’s Tap; Tami Hansen, D Construction; Scott Darlington, Clayton’s Tap; Kaitlin Redmond, Twin Oaks Savings; Jeff Wold, Patrick Minor and Lisa Allen, Channahon Minooka Rotary; Lilly Darlington; Cary Ann jenkins, Morris Rotary; Caroline Portlock, Chamber Executive Director.

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Morris Daily Herald / www.morrisdailyherald.com • Friday, March 28, 2014

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Chamber recognizes area businesses and organizations

Organizations of the Year Morris Rotary Club & Channahon-Minooka Rotary Club

From a table in the crowd, William “Clayton” and raise funds to get children Christmas presents. Marian Darlington watched as their son, Scott, “We learned from Joe Schmitz how to hold a his wife, Lois, and their grandaughter, Lilly, took fundraiser, and from Missy Durkin as well,” he the stage to accept the Entrepreneurs of the Year said. “Since then, we’ve held benefits to help award from The Grundy County Chamber of many friends and community members. We just Commerce. get ‘er going and get ‘er done.” “I’m proud as a puffed-up bear,” Clayton, the It’s not just their commitment to nonprofits that original owner of Farmer’s Paradise, Clayton’s stands out. It’s their commitment to growth and Tap, now just Clayton’s Tap, said. “That’s what I change and their love for downtown Morris. wanted, my son to take over.” They have renovated two buildings, added Scott, who started tending bar before he was gathering rooms and entertainment areas, as able to drink, said taking over the bar that had well as hosted APA pool tournaments and Yappy been in his family since 1973 wasn’t always in Hours, happy hours for pets. the plans for him. In 2004, things changed. “We recently converted the laundry mat to “I was working at ComEd and didn’t think a private room in the front,” Lois said. “We I’d take over the bar,” he said. “But then I got didn’t think we’d need that much space, but as laid off and my parwe do more busients were ready to ness, we’ve had retire. Things just to expand.” Scott said when happened in the he was young and right order.” stood behind the The family was chobar, he would look sen by the Grundy at the business and County Chamber think about things of Commerce to he’d change. That’s receive the Entresomething their preneurs of the Year 6-year-old daughter award because of Lilly now does from their commitment to a stool at a table. the community and “I like the light up passion for hosting stuff and the markspecial events. “They are very pasers to draw,” Lilly said. “When I run it, sionate about their I want to change it community, hosting to a birthday party many special events place, and call it for local not-forKatie’s Place after profit organizations my cousin Katie.” and even more pasThe place has made sionate about their Scott, Lois and Lilly Clayton of Clayton’s Tap accept the Entrepreneurs of changes throughout family and friends,” the Year award from The Grundy County Chamber of Commerce. its life on WashingCaroline Portlock, executive director of the chamber, said during ton Street, but its past is ever present, including the presentation on Thursday night to a crowd of the bar, which was bought by former owner Hank nearly 240 people at the Morris Country Club. Briscoe at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. It The dinner was hosted by Grundy Economic still graces the establishment today. Development Council (GEDC) and the Grundy “We’re huge supporters of downtown Morris, and if we are able to shop there, we do. It’s totally County Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The number of fundraisers they have hosted for thrived, and we are happy to be a part of it,” Lois people they know or friends of people they know said. “As I drive around downtown Morris, I’m always amazed at what we have.” is truly amazing,” Portlock said. Scott said the first fundraiser they held was for Portlock and John Adler, chamber board “Operation St. Nick Laus Inc.” in Morris to help chairman, presented the award to the Darlingtons

as well as awards for Business of the Year, Organization of the Year and Ambassador of the Year. Business of the Year was awarded to “D” Construction, which was founded by Kenneth Sandeno in 1982. “The company has been recognized by the Illinois Department of Transportation and many major construction publications for their work and thanked by hundreds of organizations for their philanthropic efforts,” Portlock said during the presentation, “In fact, you cannot drive by a ballfield, pick up an event program or attend a fundraiser without seeing the ‘D’ Construction logo. Their ongoing generosity is simply amazing.” Organization of the Year went to two groups, Morris Rotary Club and the Channahon-Minooka Rotary Club for their service to the communities they serve. “To serve and benefit the community for which it is a part” is the mission of both clubs. When it was brought to their attention that many children in the area were going with little or no food because a school meal wasn’t available on the weekend, they launched a Backpack Program. The program provides nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods, which are sent home in backpacks on Friday to make sure the children have something to eat until they return to school on Monday. “The Backpack programs are making a measurable difference for the students and participating schools,” Portlock said. “The clubs are made up of some very dedicated men and women, and we are honored to recognize the impact they have made on the community.” Dr. Cary Ann Jenkins, president of the Morris Rotary Club, said Rotarians are proud of the Backpack program. She said they have sent home 13,000 packs of food to kids in Morris. Lisa Allen, president of the Channahon Minooka Rotary Club, said the club currently is serving 55 children a week with the Backpack program in Minooka. Ambassador of the Year went to Caitlin Redmond, with Twin Oaks Savings Bank. Chamber ambassadors serve as liaisons between chamber members and chamber staff. “They gather feedback and answer member’s questions during calls they make throughout the year,” Portlock said. Caitlin believes the most important thing about being an ambassador is helping and being involved in her community.

Entrepreneurs of the Year - Clayton’s Tap Business of the Year - D Construction

Ambassador of the Year Caitlin Redmond of Twin Oaks Savings Bank


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Improving office productivity morning newspapers. Many people have grown accustomed to that immediacy, so a lack of immediacy can be frustrating. Business owners should keep that in mind when examining their hardware. Older computers, for example, are considerably slower than newer models, and older machinery can compromise productivity and frustrate employThough lack of morale is often assumed to be the ees. Upgrading employee hardware can help busireason behind a lack of productivity among staff, ness owners improve efficiency and productivity such an assumption is not always accurate. Poor and make for a happier, less frustrated workforce. productivity might be a byproduct of the office environment, which could be suffering. The following Look into lighting. Lighting can have a are a handful of steps business owners concerned significant impact on employee productivity. about staff productivity can take to address those Adequate lighting helps employees stay alert concerns and get their organizations back on the throughout the workday, while poor lighting can right track. cause fatigue as the day progresses. If the office is dimly lit, upgrade lighting fixtures, even installing Upgrade hardware. Thanks to the preva- more fixtures in areas that are especially dark. lence of technology, men and women have grown accustomed to getting what they need and want Help employees hone their skills. Employa lot faster than the days of yore. For example, ees who feel as though they have reached a plathe social networking tool Twitter has revolution- teau and opportunities to advance their careers ized the way many people get their news. Top have all but dried up are less likely to be producstories are now broken on Twitter, which has the tive than those who feel they can continue to move ability to instantly share newsworthy items that up within a company. In such instances, employee once were relegated to nightly news broadcasts or morale needs to be addressed, even if there are no Productivity is paramount to a company’s success. A productive staff tends to meet or even exceed its goals, strengthening a company along the way. As a result, business owners often find themselves looking for ways to increase productivity, which could be lagging for a number of reasons.

immediate promotions to be had. Business owners may improve that morale by helping employees hone their skills, be it paying for coursework that allows them to improve existing skills or sending them to seminars where they can learn more about their field. Such efforts are relatively inexpensive investments for employers, but they show employees that their companies are willing to invest in them. Such gestures can improve morale and productivity. Encourage employee input. Determining why productivity is sagging is not always so easy. But many times employees themselves are a business’ best resource with regard to identifying why things have taken a turn for the worse. Business owners can create an environment in which employees know their input is valued. If necessary, instruct department managers to conduct monthly meetings with staff to address issues such as work flow, teamwork and responsibility. During these meetings, which can be valuable during periods of low or even exceptional productivity, managers can solicit suggestions from employees about improving productivity and efficiency.

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Grundy Business Quarterly - Spring 2014